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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.

Spring in Town

By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)


THE COUNTRY ever has a lagging Spring,

Waiting for May to call its violets forth,

And June its roses,—showers and sunshine bring,

Slowly, the deepening verdure o’er the earth;

To put their foliage out, the woods are slack,

And one by one the singing-birds come back.

Within the city’s bounds the time of flowers

Comes earlier. Let a mild and sunny day,

Such as full often, for a few bright hours,

Breathes through the sky of March the airs of May,

Shine on our roofs and chase the wintry gloom—

And lo! our borders glow with sudden bloom.

For the wide sidewalks of Broadway are then

Gorgeous as are a rivulet’s banks in June,

That overhung with blossoms, through its glen,

Slides soft away beneath the sunny noon,

And they who search the untrodden wood for flowers

Meet in its depths no lovelier ones than ours.

For here are eyes that shame the violet,

Or the dark drop that on the pansy lies,

And foreheads, white, as when in clusters set,

The anemones by forest fountains rise;

And the spring-beauty boasts no tenderer streak

Than the soft red on many a youthful cheek.


Soft voices and light laughter wake the street,

Like notes of woodbirds, and where’er the eye

Threads the long way, plumes wave, and twinkling feet

Fall light, as hastes that crowd of beauty by.

The ostrich, hurrying o’er the desert space,

Scarce bore those tossing plumes with fleeter pace.

No swimming Juno-gait, of languor born,

Is theirs, but a light step of freest grace,

Light as Camilla’s o’er the unbent corn,—

A step that speaks the spirit of the place,

Since Quiet, meek old dame, was driven away

To Sing-Sing and the shores of Tappan bay.