The dank and sulky tenements
Are wilting weary with the heat;
While from the doorways, children spill
And clot the humid, huddled street.
The pools of faces flood the stoops
And dribble into every space,
Until this packed humanity
Seethes like a vat in every place!
The sallow mothers with their babes;
The playing, sprawling children there;
The flaccid moldy aged men;
The boys with their disheveled hair–
This weltering humanity
Is saturated with the heat
That wedges into every crack,
Pressing and beating on the street!
But while a hurdy-gurdy trolls,
A sentimental tinsel tune;
And cars are droning down the tracks;
And weary pallid mothers croon,
In every eye, a flare or gleam
Reveals the sea-shore in a dream!
This poem was part of Louis Ginsberg’s 1920 collection The Attic of the Past and Other Lyrics.