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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Staten Island, N. Y.

At Home in Staten Island

By Charles Mackay (1814–1889)


MY true-love clasped me by the hand,

And from our garden alley,

Looked o’er the landscape seamed with sea,

And rich with hill and valley,

And said, “We ’ve found a pleasant place

As fair as thine and my land,

A calm abode, a flowery home,

In sunny Staten Island.

“Behind us lies the teeming town

With lust of gold grown frantic;

Before us glitters o’er the bay

The peaceable Atlantic.

We hear the murmur of the sea,—

A monotone of sadness,

But not a whisper of the crowd,

Or echo of its madness.

“See how the dogwood sheds its bloom

Through all the greenwood mazes,

As white as the untrodden snow

That hides in shady places.

See how the fair catalpa spreads

Its azure flowers in masses,

Bell-shaped, as if to woo the wind

To ring them as it passes.

“See, stretching o’er the green hillside,

The haunt of cooing turtle,

The clambering vine, the branching elm,

The maple and the myrtle,

The undergrowth of flowers and fern

In many-tinted lustre,

And parasites that climb or creep,

And droop, and twist, and cluster.

“Behold the gorgeous butterflies

That in the sunshine glitter,

The bluebird, oriole, and wren

That dart and float and twitter;

And humming-birds that peer like bees

In stamen and in pistil,

And, over all, the bright blue sky

Translucent as a crystal.

“The air is balmy, not too warm,

And all the landscape sunny

Seems, like the Hebrew Paradise,

To flow with milk and honey.

Here let us rest, a little while,—

Not rich enough to buy land,

And pass a summer well content

In bowery Staten Island.”