newark’s morning song

by Leonard Harmon Robbins

Image: Charles E. Luffman via

At morn she rises early, as a busy city should
That spends the hours of daylight in the game of “Making Good.”
Across the misty meadows she watches for the sun,
For worlds of work are waiting, and there’s wonders to be done.
She takes a bit of breakfast, she dons her gingham frock,
Then sits before her keyboard, with her eyes upon the clock;
And when the hands point seven, then loud and joyfully
She plays her morning anthem on her steam calliope.

From Belleville down to Waverly, from Bloomfield to the Bay,
She fills the morn with music as her chimes and sirens play.
The piping trebles start the song, the tenors catch her air,
The altos add their mellow notes, the brassy bassos blare;
Their thousand voices blend at last in one great living chord
Of toil and usefulness and peace—a sound to please the Lord!
Listen, O music lovers; was ever heard, think ye,
A nobler tune than Newark’s on her steam calliope?

Now dawns a mighty era in the tale of her career,
Now golden comes the sunrise of a new and glorious year;
And, just as in the old days, her morning sirens call,
“Up! Rouse you up, my children! There is happiness for all!”
Yes, at this New Year’s advent her whistles fill the morn
As sound of heralds’ trumpets when a new world-king is born;
And the magic of her music shall set the thousands free
Who follow to the calling of her steam calliope!

Leonard Harmon Robbins was a contributor to the Newark Evening News, where many of his poems first appeared. The Newarker published this piece in its January 1916 edition, marking the beginning of the 250th anniversary year. It was reprinted in 1917 in The Newark Anniversary Poems.

a prayer

by Henry Lang Jenkinson

Image: Community House of Prayer
Image: Community House of Prayer

God of a Thousand Christmas Gifts,
For any hatred we have thought
And any evil we have taught
Or any misery we have wrought,
Forgive us, now.

God of a Thousand Christmas Trees,
If, thro’ the year, the wrong held sway,
And better deeds were cast away,
We pray Thee, on thy Holy Day,
Forgive us, now.

God of a Thousand Holidays,
We humbly ask that we be sent
A spirit true to good intent,
So Gifts and Goodness may be blent …
God of the Yule Tide, reign.

Henry Lang Jenkinson recruited and led a company of black volunteers from Newark in the Spanish-American War. After service in the Philippines he was engaged in various Newark businesses before joining an artist colony near Woodstock, New York, where he had a metalworking studio.

This poem appeared in The Newarker for February 1916.

the message of the masque

by Leonard Harmon Robbins

Image: Edward Penfield via Gallery East Network
Image: Edward Penfield via Gallery East Network

The lights are out; the rainbow pictures fade;
Their magic beauty and their color-flow
And rhythmic grace no eye again shall know;
‘Tis ended now, the lovely masquerade,
And those who, wondering, looked, and those who played,
Back to the busy commonplace they go,
To toiling life that moves so dull and slow;
And silent darkness cloaks the parkland glade.

The rainbow pictures fade; but still there gleams
The rainbow hope to hold us to our dreams;
And lowly toil grows beautiful and bright
As hearts urge forward to the coming light;
And men in lifelong memory will see
The vision of the city that shall be.

The 1916 Pageant of Newark was a piece of historical and allegorical theater written by Thomas Wood Stevens and produced, literally, with a cast of thousands. It offered an exuberant vision of Newarkers’ collective future.

This sonnet appeared on the front page of the Newark Evening News of June 3, 1916, the day after the final performance.


by Elizabeth Sewell Hill

Image via New Jersey Council for the Humanities
Image via New Jersey Council for the Humanities


Sunset on the hills; with dark below,
The wooded slopes. The evening glow
Blinds where the river-flood runs wide,
Lifts pink and pearl from the other side;
And the woods run down to the splendid stain
Of the river-brim to live again.

One lone canoe drifts idly by
With the sure stroke sweeping back fitfully,
Presaging portents dire and black
From the tangled reaches of Hackensack.

The slopes stand bare on the darker side
Where the clearing spreads, brave, clean and wide,
And the timbers pile in close redoubt
Near where the home-lights twinkle out.

The new post held, the new vows sworn
In the old, old faith—and the town is born.

How the spirit kindles, how greatly goes
Thro’ urgent years, the Passaic knows.


A flame thro’ the whole great countryside.
The spirit carries as the news runs wide,
Unhurried news of wind and tide—
A feathered prow passes the wharf’s long bar
Where the crowded masts of the shipping are—
Of orders coming from oversea,
Of imposts levied wrongfully,
Of tribute demanded of loyalty.

Lo, patriot, rebel and mutineer;
Muster of sloop and privateer;
And, deaf to the urge of amity,
To the arts and crafts of diplomacy,
It is “Tyranny—tyranny—tyranny!”

How the spirit blazes, how greatly goes
Thro’ troubled years, the Passaic knows;
Grappling the issue with immortal peers,
O little town of one hundred years!


The dying roar of artillery.
A nation, torn, in her agony;
One nation, smiling in her agony.

The long grey lines have all swung south,
Worn, proud, unbroken. From river-mouth,
From inlet, from roadstead, the boats go by.
One flag flies in the freedman’s sky.
Blue lines passing, mute and worn have come
Home to the peace of the north hills—home.

The shipping crowds the lower bay.
New duties call—the greater play
Of Love’s great heart of forgivingness;
Wrongs that Right must needs redress;
And civic growth and righteousness.

How the spirit carries, how greatly go
The earnest years, we and the Passaic know;
Scanning the stars, blood of elder seers,
O city of two hundred years!


Sheeted gas flaring down the hard-fought field,
Gouts of white lead, tuns of bursting steel,
Chaos of shells. The thunders sound
Fainter thro’ caverns deep underground
Where the trenches hold. Time’s conquests fall,
Smashed back and back with each interval.
It is hell gone mad; nor shift of grace
Rallies the hurt cry of helplessness.

Merciful seas cool the hurts that drown;
Unarmed non-combatants homeward bound,
Liner and transport going down.

For wanton display of efficiency,
For craven insistence of urgency,
There is “Butchery!” “Butchery!” “Butchery!”

World-thunders threaten down untrod ways,
Banners are flying thro’ anxious days.
How the years shall carry the spirit’s spell
Down abysmal years, the years will tell.


O city of visions memorial,
Back thro’ the years, perennial,
Or dark or light—
                        How the common tongue
Swung glib the name of Washington,
Knew Talleyrand, spoke LaFayette;
Cornwallis spits anathema yet!

The nation born, the common mass
Knew royalty, saw statesmen pass; 
Guessed trouble brewed, applauded France,
Appraised the heir of circumstance.

Now the nation grown past her infancy,
Argued of party, of polity;
Or suspicion scotched into bitter hate—
Delinquency made desperate—
Answered Lincoln and measured Lee
Where Gettysburg grappled with destiny.

You, too, have seen in a larger dawn
A world-empire wheel up San Juan,
Break into foam as the seas spurt red
Were it Sampson or Schley or Dewey led.
Now world-thunders threaten down untrod ways,
Banners are flying thro’ anxious days.

City of visions memorial,
Back thro’ the years perennial;
You who have heard with your ships at sea,
The rattle and roar of artillery;
Who have heard in the thunders, north or south,
Your heroes named by the cannon’s mouth;
Name now your glorious company,
And name the glorious company
That Peace has linked with liberty.

City of visions! What dreams shall glow,
Shall live, the Passaic may not know
Where just beyond, the future dips
To the nations’ dream-apocalypse,
O city of vision, whose spirit steers
Thro’ fifty and two hundred years!

Elizabeth Sewell Hill was a Chicago-based educator. While it is probable that “Newark” was written for the poetry competition held in 1916, any impression it made on the judges is not recorded.

Hill included the piece in her 1917 collection Western Waters, and Other Poems.


by Minnie J. Reynolds

A hundred years he slept beside
The meadows with their salty tide;
Without, the century rushed and screamed—
But still he slept, and never dreamed.

The bees buzzed round him where he lay;
The honied scent of new-mown hay
Came wafted down the village street—
Those hundred placid years to greet.

The second laggard century crept,
Slow loitering on, and still he slept;
But in his sleep he dreamed and stirred—
And on his lips a muttered word.

Troubled, he turned; he vaguely sighed;
His eyes, half opened, saw the wide
Horizons that, beyond his ken,
Swept out into the world of men.

With shriek and shot and clangorous din
Came his third century leaping in;
He sprang to meet it with a roar—
The giant wakes, to sleep no more.

By the salt meadows there he stands,
With knotted muscles, iron hands,
And fills a thousand rushing keels,
And turns ten thousand thousand wheels.

He hurls the rushing trains afar,
He calls where distant peoples are,
And bids them work with sweating speed
His clamorous engines still to feed.

And islands in far southern seas
For him denude their tropic trees;
And in the jungle’s endless night
Toil slaves to feed the giant’s might.

His harvest field is all the earth,
Raw wealth he gleans, and gives it birth
In forms of use for all the world;
His flag of toil is never furled.

By the salt meadows there he stands,
A giant, with his iron hands
Grasping a throttle open wide—
And round him sweep horizons wide.

Image: Library of Congress
Image: Library of Congress

Minnie Reynolds was a journalist and executive secretary of the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey. From the WPU’s Newark headquarters she organized rallies and meetings in factories and neighborhoods, in advance of an October 1915 statewide referendum on the question of extending voting rights to women. New Jersey was one of four states that rejected women’s suffrage that year.

Reynolds’s “Newark” was a prizewinning entry in the 1916 poetry contest held for the city’s 250th anniversary.

the all-summer celebration

by William J. Lampton

Image: Duke University Libraries
Image: Duke University Libraries

Now every day in Newark
        Is a whooptedooden day.
And every soul in Newark
        Seems to rather like that way,
For it keeps the circulation
        Circulating, and the blood,
Mixing with the clay of humans,
        Makes a living, lusty mud,
Which is bound to be so fertile
        That for years and years to come
The growth of coming Newark
        Puts all rivals on the bum,
And the Newark of the future
        Is going to be so great
That New Jersey of the future
        Will be changed to Newark State.

Newark’s Feigenspan brewery advertised on buildings and billboards across the state and the region, branding its wares “P. O. N.” for “Pride of Newark.”  Giant illuminated letters shone from its buildings in the Ironbound even while the plant was shuttered during Prohibition, taken later as proof “that hope burned eternal in the brewer’s breast.” (New Jersey. A guide to its present and past)

Colonel Bill Lampton’s lines appeared in the June 1916 issue of The Newarker, and were reprinted the following year in The Newark Anniversary Poems.


by Martin L. Cox
Image: Newark Story

Come, citizens of Newark, proud,
        Of low or high degrees,
Unite in story, song and ode,
        Float banners on the breeze,
Awake the harp and raise the voice
        To laud our city’s praise,
For Newark Day is here to stay
        Among our festal days.

Our fathers’ spirits shall behold
        Their work was not in vain;
What sires once planned the sons have done
        Upon Passaic’s plain.
By earnest toil, upon our soil,
        As passing years have flown,
The walls of temple, mart and home
        Have risen stone on stone.

Europa sent her stalwart sons
        From English moor and town,
From German vineyard, Flemish farm,
        Or Scottish heather brown,
From Polish plain and Irish bog
        And sunny Roman land,
To build anew their hearths and homes
        Along Passaic’s strand.

And these with those New England men
        Who first sought here a home,
Have labored side by side in peace;
        For under heaven’s dome
No dearer place for them, they felt,
        Could anywhere be found,
And love of country, love of home,
        They learned in tilling ground.

Soon Industry and Thrift came here
        To crown our fathers’ toil;
Their wants were few, but well supplied
        From Jersey’s fertile soil.
Their gratitude to God they gave
        In formal psalm and prayer,
Believing He alone could bless
        Their labor and their care.

What mean these massive walls of brick
        That look like castles old?
No place of idol state are they,
        No keep for hoarding gold;
But busy factories of trade,
        Where lathe and loom and wheel
Are busy servants, helping man
        Promote the common weal.

What wonder if our fathers erred
        In many things they did?
How could they know our present needs
        Which Time from them had hid?
For them Passaic’s lordly flow
        Brought blessings from the hills,
And on his heaving bosom came
        No stain from town or mills.

O citizens, awake and claim
        That river for your own,
Its stream and banks a legacy
        Of fabled worth has grown.
Your buildings for the public use,
        And every park and square,
These are the jewels you must prize
        And make your daily care.

Then, long live Newark, proud and great,
        The home of industry,
Create new beauties for her own
        In stone and spreading tree.
Let all her people join the song
        In one triumphant strain,
And praise the town with heart and voice
        In loving, glad acclaim.

In 1910 the Board of Education proclaimed the first “Newark Day” and in 1911, with money contributed by Newark pupils, the Schoolmen’s Club began to place a series of bronze tablets honoring figures and features of the city’s distant or recent past. Plaques were dedicated on Newark Day, the first Monday of November, over the course of the next eighteen years.

Martin L. Cox, principal of Thirteenth Avenue School, composed these verses for his students’ Newark Day observance in 1916, the city’s two hundred fiftieth anniversary year. The Newark Star printed the poem on October 26, “so as to bring it before the other school children of Newark, in order to instill civic pride in their hearts.”

the bard’s complaint

by Charles Mumford 

Image: Louis Ruyl via The Newarker
Image: Louis Ruyl via The Newarker

I dreamed a dream the other night
That left all others “out of sight;”
Around the Kinney building surged
A mob of wild-eyed men, who verged
On panic, if a panic grow
From masses struggling to and fro.

The mob was decorous if wild,
As cultured gentlemen, beguiled
By visions of good things, though faint,
Would keep their hunger in restraint,
Although, when appetites are keen,
And limbs are shrunk, and ribs are lean,
A well-filled board, in time of need,
Will tempt an anchorite to feed.

These men, who thus besieged the Kinney,
(All far from fat, and mostly skinny),
Though eager as a hound in leash,
Were strangely reticent of speech.
With well-groomed men they would not pass
For fashion-plates, for they, alas!
Were chiefly garbed in sombre black,
Of cut and style a decade back;
Their “pants” (those of a later pattern)
Shone like the sun (the parts they sat on),
While rusty coats and hats betrayed
The pinching of the wearers’ trade.

One thing I’ll say, and oft repeat,
These men, in dress so incomplete,
For classic nobs could not be beat
Within a league of Market Street.
Though seedy most, yet here and there
Was one who looked quite debonair;
“O-ho!” I cried to one of these,
Who sauntered ’round, quite at his ease;
“Pray tell me,” (for my sense grew hazy)
“Have all these gentlemen gone crazy?”

“O, no,” he said:  “Each one’s a poet;
(Though all their verses do not show it.)
They’re here because a dozen prizes
In brand-new bills of different sizes,
—One thousand plunks in all, I hear,
Though it does sound a little queer—
Are offered to the poets who
Can put in odes the best review
Of Newark’s glorious career
For this, her Anniversary year.
There’ll be a ton of rhymes, at least,
For gods and men a bounteous feast.”

“One thousand—what!” I shouted: “Whew!
You’re guying me; it can’t be true!
How can some humble poets hope
To get away with so much dope?”

He said (and confidential grew):
“It is the truth I’m telling you;
But bards are few of either sex
Who ever see a double X.
Do’st know why poets fare so ill,
While plodding tradesmen get their fill?”

I answered: “No; tell me.” He said:
“’Tis competition with the dead.
The heroes of the shop and plow
Have only rivals living now
To test their wits, while every man
Who wrote in verse since time began,
Is just as much alive to-day
As when he turned his toes up (say)
Some forty centuries away!
You surely know it is not so, sir,
With your shoemaker and your grocer!
Had Homer dealt in ducks and geese,
His fame long since had found surcease.
Could eggs of Virgil’s day compete
With fresh-laid eggs on Commerce Street?
Yet fresh-laid poets of today
Find ancient bards blockade their way!”

Just then the crowd thinned out; a few
Received their checks; the rest withdrew
To brush their threadbare coats anew.

A sunbeam through my window broke
And touched my eyes, and I awoke.

The Newark poetry competition of 1916 awarded prizes to only thirteen of the more than 900 poems submitted. The governing Committee of One Hundred did not, in fact, distribute checks outside its Kinney Building headquarters, but mailed them to the (female, as well as male) winning contributors.

“The Bard’s Complaint” appeared in The Newarker of September-October 1916.

newark knows how

by J. Fred Smith

Image: Digital Commonwealth
Image: Digital Commonwealth


In this glorious land of peace and plenty,
        There are cities rich in fame.
But o’er all this land there is none so grand
        As this “Wonder City” I shall name.
There they make almost all things you can mention,
Over all this world its products you will meet;
In the Garden State it’s that city great,
        That was founded by Robert Treat.


How we all love the sight of Military
        Or a stroll through Branch Brook Park,
How we love to gaze at the bright light’s rays
        Such as Broad and Market after dark.
We are proud of the statue of Abe Lincoln
As he sits upon his throne in Court House Square.
They all sing our toast clear from coast to coast
        For they all know that Newark’s there.


Newark you’re a city of perfection,
Newark for you thousands hold affection.
        Good folks are a-journeying, they come from far and wide,
        Come to celebrate the year to which we point with pride,
For twelve score years and ten you’ve led them all,
        To you they bow:
Newark you’re the pride of this great nation,
Others look at you in admiration,
        Even New York with its millions is jealously awed,
        Admits she hasn’t any traffic like Market and Broad.
This world watches ev’ry thing you do
        Because you’ve shown that Newark knows how.

J. Fred Smith published his “Souvenir Song of Newark’s 250th Anniversary Celebration,” with music by Louise M. Robrecht and arrangement by J. S. Glickman, in April 1916.

to newark!

by William J. Lampton

Image: Newark Happening
Image: Newark Happening

Hail, Newark!  Hail!
Two hundred years plus fifty
Is to you but growing time!
And you have grown!!!
How you have grown
Is wonderfully shown
In what you are to-day,
Not counting what you may
Become if but a mite
Of all your promised greatness
Is fulfilled
As it is billed
To do
For you!
Hail, Newark!  Hail!

New Jersey’s biggest and her best,
Her fairest and her liveliest,
Like wine and women,
You improve with age,
And all the ways and means
Of velvet and of jeans,
Of brain and brawn engage
To make you greater still,
Beyond the pale
Of earthly progress,
On the spirit gale
Is borne the glory cheer:
Hail, Newark!  Hail!!!!

Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines (shown above), a life-sized painted wood figure attributed to Thomas J. White, entered the collections of the Newark Museum in 1924. For decades it stood outside the Jabez Fearey cigar store on Market Street.

“Colonel Bill” Lampton (“Colonel” was an honorary title bestowed by the governor of Kentucky) published light pieces and satirical verses in various newspapers and magazines. During the 250th anniversary year his contributions graced the pages of The Newarker, whose February 1916 edition featured this bit of “humoresque versification.”