to a city sending him advertisements

by Ezra Pound

IMG_4232

But will you do all these things?
                You, with your promises,
        You, with your claims to life,
Will you see fine things perish?
Will you always take sides with the heavy;
Will you, having got the songs you ask for,
        Choose only the worst, the coarsest?
Will you choose flattering tongues?

        Sforza . . . Baglione!
Tyrants, were flattered by one renaissance,
        And will your Demos,
Trying to match the rest, do as the rest,
The hurrying other cities,
Careless of all that’s quiet,
Seeing the flare, the glitter only?

Will you let quiet men live and contrive* among you,
        Making, this one, a fane,
        This one, a building;
Or this bedevilled, casual, sluggish fellow
Do, once in a life, the single perfect poem,
        And let him go unstoned?

Are you alone? Others make talk and chatter about their promises,
Others have fooled me when I sought the soul.
And your white slender neighbor,
                a queen of cities,
A queen ignorant, can you outstrip her;
Can you be you, say,
As Pavia’s Pavia
And not Milan swelling and being modern despite her enormous treasure?

If each Italian city is herself,
        Each with a form, light, character,
To love and hate one, and be loved and hated, never a blank, a wall, a nullity;
Can you, Newark, be thus, setting a fashion
But little known in our land? The rhetoricians
Will tell you as much. Can you achieve it?
You ask for immortality, you offer a price for it, a price, a prize, an* honour?

You ask a life, a life’s skill,
                        bent to the shackle,
                        bent to implant a soul
                in your thick* commerce?
                                Or the God’s foot
                struck on your shoulder effortless,
                being invoked, properly called, invited?
I throw down his ten words,
                        and we are immortal?

In all your hundreds of thousands who will know this;
Who will see the God’s foot, who catch the glitter,
The silvery heel of Apollo; who know the oblation
Accepted, heard in the lasting realm?

If your professors, mayors, judges . . . ? Reader, we think not . . .
Some more loud-mouthed fellow, slamming a bigger drum,
Some fellow rhyming and roaring,
        Some more obsequious back,
Will receive their purple, be the town’s bard,
Be ten days hailed as immortal,
        But you will die or live
        By the silvery heel of Apollo.

Ezra Pound was living in England in 1916 when he received a notice about the Newark poetry competition marking the city’s 250th anniversary; this was his entry. The submission did not sit well with some members of the organizing committee, who called it “a poem of violence directed at the head, heart, and hands of Newark.” Whatever the intent, this was not the first time Pound used his pen to slight the city: a year earlier he wrote in the journal Poetry that increased investment in the arts would raise property values “even in Newark, New Jersey,” that is, “if Newark were capable of producing art, literature or the drama.”

In Pound’s verses the judges detected some merit–perhaps a challenge, perhaps even a vein of sympathy–and awarded them one of the ten lesser prizes of $50. The work went with the other winners into The Newark Anniversary Poems, published in 1917. Nor was this quite the end of Newark’s dealings with Pound. Homer Pound, the poet’s father, arranged with the Newark Sunday Call for a series of articles by Ezra on literary topics. Only one, about novelist Henry James, ever appeared.

A note on the text: The poem is given above substantially as printed in 1917, but we have altered three words on the basis of manuscript images supplied by courtesy of Yale University. These are indicated by asterisks.

acrostics

Image: http://www.michaellenson.org/murals.html
Image: Michael Lenson

                                1666

Naiad and nymph in the forest are roaming;
Everglades echo their unearthly tread;
Weird are their songs and their forms in the gloaming;
Answering voices or shades of the dead.
Rudely the Indian ‘neath wigwam and bower
Kneels in submission to Ignorance-power.

                                1916

Newark is now in the vigor of manhood.
Eye of a Mentor, and brain of a State;
Wielding a sceptre that banishes clanhood,
And makes us all kith, and akin to the great.
Rugged the heights from whose summits this hour
Ken we the vision that Knowledge is power.

 

        No spot to which we roam,
        Either o’er land or foam,
        Will ever be like home.
        As home is the pole
        Round which love doth roll,
        Keeping steadfast the soul.

The anniversary acrostics, by William J. Marshall, appeared in The Newarker of August 1916. Augustus Watters included the third, by an unknown author, in his small book Poems, printed in Newark in 1892.

father newark

by William L. R. Wurts

Image: Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger
Image: Jennifer Brown/The Star-Ledger

Swart with the grime of his crafts are the hands of him,
        Corded his muscles with energy stark;
Stately the buildings and spacious the lands of him:
        Hall, fane and factory; meadow and park.
Lofty his brow with the pride of his history,
        Kindled his eye with the light of his skill;
Genius inventive that solves every mystery;
        Courage that wins by invincible will.

Centuries two and a half has his story been–
        Years crowned with triumphs of labor and lore;
Burning undimmed has the lamp of his glory been;
        Open to all men his neighborly door.
Now he is bidding us all to rejoice with him–
        Sons of your sire, bound by filial vow,
Each of you loyally lift up your voice with him;
        Join in the slogan of Newark Knows How!

William Wurts was a musician and newspaper editor in Paterson, New Jersey. His father George Wurts, regarded as the dean of New Jersey journalists at the end of the nineteenth century, began his career as a reporter for the Newark Daily Advertiser.

“Father Newark” was published in The Newarker of May 1916.

a vision of 1916

by Joseph Fulford Folsom

Image: Louis H. Ruyl in The Newarker (1916)
Image: Louis H. Ruyl in The Newarker

The bells rang music, but the blare
Of trumpets made Four Corners sound
Like some weird throng. Such clamor there
The silent Training Place I found.

Vague shadows hung about the shrine
Long named Old Trinity. Among
The trees where bending paths entwine,
An antique figure moved along.

A Founder looked he, but he said:
“Call me the Spirit of the Town,
Among the living, not the dead,
Walk I unceasing up and down.”

“Good Spirit,” said I, “what bright cheer
To our fair city do you bring?
Spin us the vision of the seer,
Just at the New Year’s opening.”

An ember kindled in his glance,
That soon shot forth prophetic fire;
And then, with fervid utterance,
Predictive spoke the ghostly sire:

“The manes and the stars foretell
A greater Newark, till her fame
Resplendent cast a wondrous spell
On land or sea, where sounds her name!”

Amazed heard I the gracious seer,
Too good the augur seemed for true;
But when I plead again to hear
He turned, and waved his hand adieu.

The bells still carolled, and the gleam
Of lights electric kissed the snow–
“Perhaps,” mused I, “a hollow dream,
If not, let Newark prove it so.”

The decorative scheme of Newark’s 250th anniversary festivities included four plaster and wood pylons at the Four Corners, 23 feet in height, and two dozen smaller pylons spread out along Broad and Market Streets, each adorned with an instructive saying. Conceived as “things of beauty and guideposts to learning,” the pylons proved, according to newspaper reports, chiefly useful as objects for idlers to lean or smokers to strike matches on. They were removed in August 1916.

The author of the above verses, printed in The Newarker in January 1916, reported that his poem’s prophecy of “a greater Newark” figured on one of the Broad Street pylons. That stanza does not, however, appear on a list of pylon legends published in the June issue of The Newarker.

puritan newark

by Katherine Baker

        Puritan Newark,
The Martha of cities,
Careful and provident
Sits at her spindles.

        Down the world’s pathways
Hobo and Tsar,
Shod by her industry,
Borne in her carriages,
Jeweled or clothed by her,
Pass without gratitude.

        Still her shrewd sons,
Like their stern forebears
Who came from Connecticut,
Make their religion
The gospel of usefulness,
Still with their hymnals
Wadding their guns.

        Jews, in her factories,
Pollacks and Finns and Greeks,
Sweat out new destinies:
Wring from strange chemicals
Lives for their children,
Wealth for the world.

        Build for their children
Her schools and her aqueducts,
Build themselves citizens
Of no mean city;
Forge in her foundries
The soul of America.

        So when swift trains
Are rolling through Newark,
Men at the windows see,
Far down a busy street,
Flash in perspective
The Goddess of Liberty.

Image: 925-1000.com
Image: Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks and Makers’ Marks

The writings of Katherine Baker were featured in several leading literary magazines of her day. “Puritan Newark” took one of the prizes in the city’s poetry contest in 1916.

In 1917 Baker volunteered as a war nurse; she would attain the rank of corporal and receive the Croix de Guerre for her heroic service in Europe, work that led to a physical collapse from which she never recovered. She died in 1919.

the smithy of god

by Clement Wood

Image: Newark Story
Image: Newark Story

          A CHANT

                        I

[A bold, masculine chant.]

I am Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men–
Here at a smithy God wrought, and flung
Earthward, down to this rolling shore,
God’s mighty hammer I have swung,
With crushing blows that thunder and roar,
And delicate taps, whose echoes have rung
Softly to heaven and back again;
Here I labor, forging men.
Out of my smithy’s smouldering hole,
As I forge a body and mould a soul,
The jangling clangors ripplewise roll.

[The voice suggests the noises of the city.]

Clang, as a hundred thousand feet
Tap-tap-tap down the morning street,
And into the mills and factories pour,
Like a narrowed river’s breathing roar.

Clang, as two thousand whistles scream
Their seven-in-the-morning’s burst of steam,
Brass-throated Sirens, calling folk
To the perilous breakers of din and smoke.
Clang, as ten thousand vast machines
Pound and pound, in their pulsed routines,
Throbbing and stunning, with deafening beat,
The tiny humans lost at their feet.

Clang, and the whistle and whirr of trains,
Rattle of ships unleased of their chains,
Fire-gongs, horse-trucks’ jolts and jars,
Traffic-calls, milk-carts, droning cars . . .

[A softer strain.]

Clang, and a softer shiver of noise
As school-bells summon the girls and boys;
And a mellower tone, as the churches ring
A people’s reverent worshipping.

[Still more softly and drowsily, the last line whispered.]

Clang, and clang, and clang, and clang,
Till a hundred thousand tired feet
Drag-drag-drag down the evening street,
And gleaming the myriad street-lights hang;
The far night-noises dwindle and hush,
The city quiets its homing rush;
The stars glow forth with a silent sweep,
As hammer and hammered drowse asleep . . .
Softly I sing to heaven again,
I am Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men.

                        II

[Antichorus, with restrained bitterness, and notes of wailing and sorrow.]

You are Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men . . .
You take God’s children, and forge a race
Unhuman, exhibiting hardly a trace
Of Him and His loveliness in their face. . .
Counterfeiting his gold with brass,
Blanching the roses, scorching the grass,
Filling with hatred and greed the whole,
Shrivelling the body, withering the soul.

What have you done with the lift of youth,
As they bend in the mill, and bend in the mill?
Where have you hidden beauty and truth,
As they bend in the mill?

Where is the spirit seeking the sky,
As they stumble and fall, stumble and fall?
What is life, if the spirit die,
As they stumble and fall?

[With bitter resignation.]

Clang, and the strokes of your hammer grind
Body and spirit, courage and mind;
Smith of the devil, well may you be
Proud of your ghastly forgery;
Dare you to speak to heaven again,
Newark, Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men?

                        III

[Beginning quietly, gathering certainty.]

I am Newark, forger of men,
Forger of men, forger of men.
Well I know that the metal must glow
With a scorching, searing heat;
Well I know that blood must flow,
And floods of sweat, and rivers of woe;
That underneath the beat
Of the hammer, the metal will writhe and toss;
That there will be much and much of loss
That has to be sacrificed,
Before I can forge body and soul
That can stand erect and perfect and whole
In the sight of Christ.

[Sadly and somberly.]

My hammer is numb to sorrows and aches,
My hammer is blind to the ruin it makes,
My hammer is deaf to shriek and cry
That ring till they startle water and sky.

And sometimes with me the vision dims
At the sight of bent backs and writhing limbs;
And sometimes I blindly err, and mistake
The perfect glory I must make.

[Rising to a song of exultant triumph.]

But still I labor and bend and toil,
Shaping anew the stuff I spoil;
And out of the smothering din and grime
I forge a city for all time:
A city beautiful and clean,
With wide sweet avenues of green,
With gracious homes and houses of trade,
Where souls as well as things are made.
I forge a people fit to dwell
Unscathed in the hottest heart of hell,
And fit to shine, erect and straight,
When we shall see His kingdom come
On earth, over all of Christendom,–
And I stand up, shining and great,
Lord of an unforeseen estate.
Then I will cry, and clearly then,
I am Newark, forger of men.

For Clement Wood, who relinquished a brief, checkered legal career in his native Alabama for a life of writing and teaching in New York, poetry was “the shaped expression of man’s desires,” and only achieved greatness when it expressed, “to the largest group of people over the longest stretch of time, their individual and collective wish-fulfillments.” (The Craft of Poetry, 19-20)

Wood claimed no such greatness for “The Smithy of God” but, of more than nine hundred submissions from forty-two states and five foreign countries, this poem most impressed the seven-judge panel of the 1916 Newark poetry competition: it won handily the first-place prize.

the fallen pageant star

by Henry Wellington Wack

Image courtesy of the Newark Public Library via radius-magazine
Image courtesy of the Newark Public Library via radius-magazine

Time: 1 A.M.
Temperature: Just Freezing.
Wind Velocity: Rooseveltian.

Oh, if ‘twould only thaw upon this stage,
And cold raw winds would even once abate
Upon our Pageant shanks and unprotected skins—
Then would our love remain—unturned to rage
At May’s mad blasts—while Poet Tom, unagitate,
Gently megaphones at our dramatic sins
        And begs us never mind the Arctic gusts
        That pneumonize our necessary busts!

Never again shall our ambitious rôles include
The part of Herald to this gay old Town,
Until fair Newark’s thirty-first of May
Shall be so balmy as to singe the nude
In art—from sombre Puritan to clown—
Or tog us up in buskins lined with hay.
        And yet, that Civic Germ we would sustain—
        May lure us out—to do our worst again.

Written and directed by Thomas Wood Stevens, the Pageant of Newark was an elaborate piece of historical theater and allegory enacted in Weequahic Park from May 30 to June 2, 1916. The production engaged thousands of Newarkers as performers, costumers and set builders. It played, by one estimate, to a quarter of a million spectators.

Henry Wellington Wack was the chief publicist of the city’s 250th anniversary observances; in the Pageant he was appropriately cast as the Herald of Newark. The above vignette of his experience was printed in The Newarker of June 1916.

a song of cities

by Theodosia Garrison

Image: Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger
Image: Jerry McCrea/The Star-Ledger

Babylon and Nineveh
Ephesus and Tyre,—
These were names to thrill us once,
Seeing, as we read,
Wall and gate and citadel,
Golden dome and spire,—
All the glory that youth sees
O’er the dust and dead.

Cities of the lordly names:
Sybaris, Damascus;
Doubtless, too, their little lads
Dreaming as we dreamed,
Visioned older cities still,
Far as ever theirs from us,
Cities that their Grandsires built
With words that glowed and gleamed.

Babylon and Nineveh,
Troy Town and Rome,
Little did we think one day,
Until we wandered far,
How dearer and more dreamed of
The city of our home,—
The commonplace, gray city
Where yet our treasures are.

Bagdad and Carthage
Sybaris, Damascus,
Babylon and Nineveh,
Troy Town and Rome:
You may hold my fancy still,
Great names and glorious;
But O, my commonplace, gray town,
‘Tis here my heart comes home.

Newark native Theodosia Garrison served as a judge of the 1916 poetry competition. The resulting volume of Newark Anniversary Poems included this contribution.

the city of heritage

by Anna Blake Mezquida

Down where the swift Passaic
        Flows on to the placid bay,
Where the marshes stretch to the restless sea,
And the green hills cling in the mountain’s lee,
There the sad-eyed Lenni-Lenape
        Unchallenged held their sway.

Gentlest of all their neighbors,
        Proud race of the Delaware,
They lived in the land where their fathers dwelt,
They killed the game and they cured the pelt,
And marked the blue in the wampum belt—
        The purple and blue so rare.

When day tripped over the meadows
        Fresh as a maiden trim,
They skirted the trails where the black swamps lie,
They notched the cedars to guide them by,
And wandered free as the birds that fly
        Beyond the river’s rim.

But few were the moons that silvered
        The mountain’s hoary side,
When over the banks where the waters foam,
Over the fields where they loved to roam,
Into the heart of their forest home
        They watched the pale-face stride.

Unconquered, and loath to conquer,
        They hid the arrow and bow;
The mat was spread for the honored guest;
They hung bright beads on the stranger’s breast,
And mutely signing, they bade him rest
        Before the camp-fire’s glow.

The suns of a hundred noondays
        Blazed down on river and hill,
And the pale-face walked in the red-man’s land;
A pious, fearless and strong-souled band,
For home and for country they took their stand,
        And served God with a will.

Where the waters gleamed in splendor,
        And the meadows glistened green,
They founded a town with an English name;
Their sternness shielded it like a flame,
And woe to the creature of sloth or shame
        Who dared let himself be seen!

They founded the house of learning;
        They built them the place of trade;
They guarded their laws by the force of might—
The laws that they held as a free man’s right;
And first to pray, they were first to fight
        When foemen stood arrayed.

And staunch were their children’s children,
        Brave men of a stalwart breed,
Who fought for the land where their fathers fought,
And kept the faith that was dearly bought,
That a brother-man, in the shackles caught,
        Forever might he freed.

And into the growing city
        Poured German and Celt and Scot
All seeking the land of the sore-oppressed—
The land that all free-born souls had blest,
And put of their manhood’s brawny best
        Into the melting pot.
        .         .         .         .         .         .         . 

The moccasined feet have padded
        Into the silence vast,
And the smoke-stacks belch where the camp-fires glowed,
Yet the white man reaps what the red man sowed,
For the friendliness to the stranger showed
        Shall live while the town shall last.

Unfearing, true and sturdy,
        The Puritan left his mark;
Though he sleeps beneath the grassy sod,
Though a million feet o’er his bones have trod
Yet he leaves his faith and his love of God
        To light men through the dark.

The soldier’s battles are over;
        His deeds but a written page!
Now the living pass by his low green tent,
But the patriot fires of a young life spent,
And a country whole from a country rent
        He leaves to a future age.

The toiler that strove and builded,
        And into the furnace hurled
Not coals alone, but his hopes and dreams,
Has lighted a beacon that ever gleams,—
While ships that sail on a hundred streams
        Shall bear his gifts to the world.

Then rise to your heritage, Newark!
        It cannot be swept away
Like chaff by the sullen north winds blown,
Or barren seed that is lightly sown,
For out of the past has the present grown—
        The city men love today!

Image: Joseph Atkinson, The history of Newark, New Jersey (1878)
Image: Joseph Atkinson, The history of Newark, New Jersey (1878)

Anna Blake Mezquida produced poetry, short stories, plays, film scenarios, and newspaper and magazine pieces in her native San Francisco. This work won the second prize in Newark’s 1916 poetry competition.

our nameless heroes

by William J. Fielding

On the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration
of Newark, N. J., 1666-1916

I sing not of the honored names so favored with acclaim,
But pay my humble tribute to the heroes without fame.
The plain and unassuming folk who shared the burdened life
Amid the virgin wilderness and elemental strife;
The pioneers who felled the trees and tilled the broken soil,
And paved the way for future growth by hardship, pain and toil!
My homage goes to such as these, unhonored and unsung,
Who made the primal sacrifice when Newark’s days were young.

I speak a friendly word for them whose labors are unknown,
Whom fickle fame has never kindly recognition shown;
The rank and file of sturdy men, and women by their side,
Who braved the hidden dangers here as settlers to abide;
The strugglers of the early years who broke the rugged ground
And passed from spheres of usefulness to graves all unrenowned.
To these forgotten, nameless ones, and those who followed them,
Into the Great Obscurity, I sing this requiem!

And so on down the steady line since that eventful morn,
When out of human labor pains our civic life was born,
I hail the toilers in the fields and at the handy trades,
And those who’ve done the drudgery that custom says degrades;
The workers of the stoic strain who bore the greatest load,
Who kept the wheels of progress rolling o’er the time-marked road;
The builders of a sturdy past that stood for future fame,
The men who gave their sweated flesh and died obscure in name.

A bitter foe of every war to conquer or despoil,
A hater of the heartless fiend who would the world embroil,
I lay a fitting laurel wreath upon the common grave—
On Mother Earth—in recognition of the nameless brave
Who fought on bloody battlefields to set a people free,
And gave their lives to move the cause of human liberty.
Custom lauds the honored names. I eulogize no less
The heroes who so coldly rest in blank forgottenness.

I pay a solemn tribute to the hero host unnamed,
The army of constructiveness that industry has claimed;
The soldiers of production in the factory, shop and mill,
Whose workmanship has made the name of Newark speak their skill.
To the victims and the martyrs, I add my special meed—
To those who have been sacrificed for avarice and greed—
The children, men, and women who have perished at their work,
And the toilers who’ve been stricken in holocausts or murk.

Let none forget the commonplace—the widows worn with care,
Who’ve battled singlehanded with the demon of despair;
The orphans and the helpless ones who’ve braved the ways unknown
And faced the struggles of the world, unguided and alone.
Let’s not forget the multitude that suffered through the years,
Whose nights of silent anguish have been bathed in bitter tears—
Heroic souls of motherhood whose love has lit the way
In treading the unbeaten paths to seek the Better Day.

I find a word of favor for the heroes seldom named—
The firemen who risk their lives in danger-traps enflamed;
The officers, on busy streets where traffic most congests,
Whose deeds in face of jeopardy their bravery attests.
So, come, salute the legions here, and those of other days,
Who’ve added to our wide renown and reaped no words of praise;
And let us, as an echo of this late Historic Fête,
Give honor to the Nameless Heroes ere it is too late!

Image: Gasser via Newark Story
Image: Henry Gasser via Newark Story

William J. Fielding was an activist, editor and author. From 1915 to 1918 he edited The Newark Leader, the weekly paper of the local Socialist Party.

This song of Newark’s unsung was included in Fielding’s Pebbles from Parnassus, comprising rhymes of revolt and flitting fancies (1917).