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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Morning Street

By John James Piatt (1835–1917)

ALONE I walk the morning street,

Filled with the silence vague and sweet:

All seems as strange, as still, as dead,

As if unnumbered years had fled,

Letting the noisy Babel lie

Breathless and dumb against the sky.

The light wind walks with me, alone

Where the hot day, flame-like, was blown;

Where the wheels roared, the dust was beat:—

The dew is in the morning street.

Where are the restless throngs that pour

Along this mighty corridor

While the noon shines?—the hurrying crowd

Whose footsteps make the city loud?—

The myriad faces, hearts that beat

No more in the deserted street?

Those footsteps, in their dreaming maze,

Cross thresholds of forgotten days;

Those faces brighten from the years

In rising suns long set in tears;

Those hearts—far in the Past they beat,

Unheard within the morning street.

Some city of the world’s gray prime,

Lost in some desert far from Time,

Where noiseless ages, gliding through,

Have only sifted sand and dew,—

Yet a mysterious hand of man

Lying on all the haunted plan,

The passions of the human heart

Quickening the marble breast of Art,—

Were not more strange, to one who first

Upon its ghostly silence burst,

Than this vast quiet, where the tide

Of Life, upheaved on either side,

Hangs trembling, ready soon to beat

With human waves the morning street.

Ay, soon the glowing morning flood

Breaks through the charmèd solitude:

This silent stone, to music won,

Shall murmur to the rising sun;

The busy place, in dust and heat,

Shall roar with wheels and swarm with feet;—

The Arachne-threads of Purpose stream,

Unseen, within the morning gleam;

The life shall move, the death be plain;

The bridal throng, the funeral train,

Together, face to face, shall meet

And pass, within the morning street.