Home  »  Yale Book of American Verse  »  177 Pan in Wall Street

Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse. 1912.

A. D. 1867

Edmund Clarence Stedman 1833–1908

Edmund Clarence Stedman

177 Pan in Wall Street

JUST where the Treasury’s marble front

Looks over Wall Street’s mingled nations;

Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont

To throng for trade and last quotations;

Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold

Outrival, in the ears of people,

The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled

From Trinity’s undaunted steeple,—

Even there I heard a strange, wild strain

Sound high above the modern clamor,

Above the cries of greed and gain,

The curbstone war, the auction’s hammer;

And swift, on Music’s misty ways,

It led, from all this strife for millions,

To ancient, sweet-do-nothing days

Among the kirtle-robed Sicilians.

And as it stilled the multitude,

And yet more joyous rose, and shriller,

I saw the minstrel, where he stood

At ease against a Doric pillar:

One hand a droning organ played,

The other held a Pan’s-pipe (fashioned

Like those of old) to lips that made

The reeds give out that strain impassioned.

’T was Pan himself had wandered here

A-strolling through this sordid city,

And piping to the civic ear

The prelude of some pastoral ditty!

The demigod had crossed the seas,—

From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr,

And Syracusan times,—to these

Far shores and twenty centuries later.

A ragged cap was on his head;

But—hidden thus—there was no doubting

That, all with crispy locks o’erspread,

His gnarlèd horns were somewhere sprouting;

His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,

Were crossed, as on some frieze you see them,

And trousers, patched of divers hues,

Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.

He filled the quivering reeds with sound,

And o’er his mouth their changes shifted,

And with his goat’s-eyes looked around

Where’er the passing current drifted;

And soon, as on Trinacrian hills

The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him,

Even now the tradesmen from their tills,

With clerks and porters, crowded near him.

The bulls and bears together drew

From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley,

As erst, if pastorals be true,

Came beasts from every wooded valley;

The random passers stayed to list,—

A boxer Ægon, rough and merry,

A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst

With Nais at the Brooklyn Ferry.

A one-eyed Cyclops halted long

In tattered cloak of army pattern,

And Galatea joined the throng,—

A blowsy, apple-vending slattern;

While old Silenus staggered out

From some new-fangled lunch-house handy,

And bade the piper, with a shout,

To strike up Yankee Doodle Dandy!

A newsboy and a peanut-girl

Like little Fauns began to caper:

His hair was all in tangled curl,

Her tawny legs were bare and taper;

And still the gathering larger grew,

And gave its pence and crowded nigher,

While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew

His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.

O heart of Nature, beating still

With throbs her vernal passion taught her,—

Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,

Or by the Arethusan water!

New forms may fold the speech, new lands

Arise within these ocean portals,

But Music waves eternal wands,—

Enchantress of the souls of mortals!

So thought I,—but among us trod

A man in blue, with legal baton,

And scoffed the vagrant demigod,

And pushed him from the step I sat on.

Doubting I mused upon the cry,

“Great Pan is dead!”—and all the people

Went on their ways:—and clear and high

The quarter sounded from the steeple.