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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.

Hymn of the City

By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

NOT in the solitude

Alone may man commune with heaven, or see

Only in savage wood

And sunny vale, the present Deity;

Or only hear his voice

Where the winds whisper and the waves rejoice.

Even here do I behold

Thy steps, Almighty!—here, amidst the crowd,

Through the great city rolled,

With everlasting murmur deep and loud,—

Choking the ways that wind

’Mongst the proud piles, the work of human kind.

Thy golden sunshine comes

From the round heaven, and on their dwellings lies,

And lights their inner homes;

For them thou fill’st with air the unbounded skies,

And givest them the stores

Of ocean, and the harvests of its shores.

Thy spirit is around,

Quickening the restless mass that sweeps along;

And this eternal sound,—

Voices and footfalls of the numberless throng,—

Like the resounding sea,

Or like the rainy tempest, speaks of thee.

And when the hours of rest

Come, like a calm upon the mid-sea brine,

Hushing its billowy breast,—

The quiet of that moment too is thine;

It breathes of Him who keeps

The vast and helpless city while it sleeps.