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

Middle States: Elizabeth, N. J.

Ilium Fuit

By Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833–1908)

Washington’s Headquarters

ONE by one they died,—

Last of all their race;

Nothing left but pride,

Lace, and buckled hose.

Their quietus made,

On their dwelling-place

Ruthless hands are laid:

Down the old house goes!

See the ancient manse

Meet its fate at last!

Time, in his advance,

Age nor honor knows;

Axe and broadaxe fall,

Lopping off the Past:

Hit with bar and maul,

Down the old house goes!

Sevenscore years it stood:

Yes, they built it well,

Though they built of wood,

When that house arose.

For its cross-beams square

Oak and walnut fell;

Little worse for wear,

Down the old house goes!

Rending board and plank,

Men with crowbars ply,

Opening fissures dank,

Striking deadly blows.

From the gabled roof

How the shingles fly!

Keep you here aloof,—

Down the old house goes!

Holding still its place,

There the chimney stands,

Stanch from top to base,

Frowning on its foes.

Heave apart the stones,

Burst its iron bands!

How it shakes and groans!

Down the old house goes!

Round the mantel-piece

Glisten Scripture tiles;

Henceforth they shall cease

Painting Egypt’s woes,

Painting David’s fight,

Fair Bathsheba’s smiles,

Blinded Samson’s might,—

Down the old house goes!

On these oaken floors

High-shoed ladies trod;

Through those panelled doors

Trailed their furbelows:

Long their day has ceased;

Now, beneath the sod,

With the worms they feast,—

Down the old house goes!

Many a bride has stood

In yon spacious room;

Here her hand was wooed

Underneath the rose;

O’er that sill the dead

Reached the family tomb:

All, that were, have fled,—

Down the old house goes!

Once, in yonder hall,

Washington, they say,

Led the New-Year’s ball,

Stateliest of beaux!

O that minuet,

Maids and matrons gay!

Are there such sights yet?

Down the old house goes!

British troopers came

Ere another year,

With their coats aflame,

Mincing on their toes;

Daughters of the house

Gave them haughty cheer,

Laughed to scorn their vows,—

Down the old house goes!

Doorway high the box

In the grass-plot spreads;

It has borne its locks

Through a thousand snows;

In an evil day,

From those garden-beds

Now ’t is hacked away,—

Down the old house goes!

Lo! the sycamores,

Scathed and scrawny mates,

At the mansion doors

Shiver, full of woes;

With its life they grew,

Guarded well its gates;

Now their task is through,—

Down the old house goes!

On this honored site

Modern trade will build,—

What unseemly fright

Heaven only knows!

Something peaked and high,

Smacking of the guild:

Let us heave a sigh,—

Down the old house goes!