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

Middle States: New York, the City, N. Y.


By William Allen Butler (1825–1902)

ON this day of brightest dawning,

Underneath each spreading awning,

Sheltered from the sun’s fierce ray,

Come, and let us saunter gayly

With the crowd whose footsteps, daily,

Wear the sidewalks of Broadway.

Leave the proof-sheets and the printer

Till the duller days of winter,

Till some dark December day;

Better than your lucubrations

Are the vivid inspirations

You can gather in Broadway!

Tell me not, in half-derision,

Of your Boulevards Parisian,

With their brilliant broad pavés,

Still for us the best is nearest,

And the last love is the dearest,

And the Queen of Streets—Broadway!

Here, beneath bewitching bonnets,

Sparkle eyes to kindle sonnets,

Charms, each worth a lyric lay;

Ah! what bright, untold romances

Linger in the radiant glances

Of the beauties of Broadway!

All the fairer, that so fleeting

Is the momentary meeting,

That our footsteps may not stay;

While, each passing form replacing,

Swift the waves of life are chasing

Down the channels of Broadway!

Motley as the masqueraders

Are the jostling promenaders,

In their varied, strange display;

Here an instant, only, blending,

Whither are their footsteps tending

As they hasten through Broadway?

Some to garrets and to cellars,

Crowded with unhappy dwellers;

Some to mansions, rich and gay,

Where the evening’s mirth and pleasure

Shall be fuller, in their measure,

Than the turmoil of Broadway!

Yet were once our mortal vision

Blest with quicker intuition,

We should shudder with dismay

To behold what shapes are haunting

Some, who seem most gayly flaunting

On the sidewalks of Broadway!

For, beside the beggar cheerless,

And the maiden gay and fearless,

And the old man worn and gray,

Swift and viewless, waiting never,

Still the Fates are gliding ever,

Stern and silent, through Broadway!