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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.

Headquarters of Washington

By William Henry Cuyler Hosmer (1814–1877)

When New York Was Evacuated by Clinton

IT is a structure of the olden time,

Built to endure, not dazzle for a day:

A stain is on the venerable roof,

Telling of conflict with the King of Storms;

And clings to casement worn and hanging eaves,

With thread-like roots, the moss.
Gray shutters swing

On rusted hinges, but the beams of day

Dart with a softening radiance through the bars.

Colossal domes of chiselled marble made,

Religion’s fanes, with glittering golden spires,

And Mammon’s airy and embellished halls,

Wearing a modern freshness, are in sight;

But a cold glance they win from me alone.

Why do I turn from Art’s triumphant works

To look on pile more humble? Why in thought

Linger around this ancient edifice?

The place is hallowed,—Washington once trod,

Planning the fall of tyranny, these floors.

Within yon chamber did he bend the knee,

Calling on God to aid the patriot’s cause,

At morn and in the solemn hour of night.

His mandate, pregnant with a nation’s fate,

Went forth from these plain, unpretending walls.

Here towered in warlike garb his stately form,

While marshalled thousands in the dusty street

Gave ear to his harangue, and inly vowed

To die or conquer with their matchless chief.

Methinks at yon old window I behold

His calm majestic features, while the sound

Of blessing rises from the throng below.

Have not the scenes of other days returned?

Do I not hear the sentry’s measured tramp,

Clangor of mail and neigh of battle-steed,

Mingling their discord with the drum’s deep roll?

No! ’t was a dream!—the magic of a place,

Allied to memory of earth’s noblest son,

Gives form and seeming life to viewless air.