by Max J. Herzberg

A crow caws wildly in the nest-hung trees—
A distant farmer sowing grain he sees.

Two savages converse with gesturings—
Word of fat deer one to the other brings.

A nomad minstrel tells in lilting ditties
Of war and mighty deeds and far-off cities.

“The battle’s lost!” a blood-stained horseman calls
To a scared village. “Flee! Our country falls!”

A portly townsman reads in his gazette
Of earthquake, hanging, wedding, sale, and debt.

Today, electric messengers devour
All space with speed: time shrinks into an hour.

Today, the whole of mankind pays its dues
Of instantaneous, multifarious news.

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

On May 19, 1791, printer John Woods produced the inaugural issue of Woods’s Newark Gazette from his shop on Broad Street. In a ceremony on the same date in 1928, students of Central High School unveiled a bronze plaque outside the Hahne and Company department store, designating the site where the city’s first newspaper was born.

Max J. Herzberg, head of the English department at Central High and literary editor for the Newark Evening News, composed this poem for the plaque’s dedication. It was one of several poems read at the event and published in William Lewin‘s booklet A Story of New Jersey Journalism.

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