Treasure Island

George Pope Morris

(1802-1864 / USA)

New-York in 1826.


Two years have elapsed since the verse of S. W.
Met your bright eyes like a fanciful gem;
With that kind of stanza the muse will now trouble you,
She often frolicks with one G. P. M.
As New Year approaches, she whispers of coaches,
And lockets and broaches , without any end,
Of sweet rosy pleasure, of joy without measure,
And plenty of leisure to share with a friend.

'Tis useless to speak of the griefs of society--
They overtake us in passing along;
And public misfortunes, in all their variety,
Need not be told in a holyday song.
The troubles of Wall-street, I'm sure that you all meet,
And they're not at all sweet--but look at their pranks:
Usurious cravings, and discounts and shavings,
With maniac ravings and Lombardy banks.

'Tis useless to speak of our dealers in cotton too,
Profits and losses but burden the lay;
The failure of merchants should now be forgotten too,
Nor sadden the prospects of this festive day.
Though Fortune has cheated the hope near completed,
And cruelly treated the world mercantile,
The poet's distresses, when Fortune oppresses,
Are greater, he guesses--but still he can smile.

'Tis useless to speak of the gas-lights so beautiful,
Shedding its beams through 'the mist of the night;'
Eagles and tigers and elephants, dutiful,
Dazzle the vision with columns of light.
The lamb and the lion--ask editor Tryon,
His word you'll rely on--are seen near the Park,
From which such lights flow out, as wind can not blow out,
Yet often they go out, and all's in the dark.

'Tis useless to speak of the seats on the Battery ,
They're too expensive to give to the town;
Then our aldermen think it such flattery,
If the public have leave to sit down!
Our fortune to harden, they show Castle Garden--
Kind muses, your pardon, but rhyme it I must--
Where soldiers were drilling, you now must be willing
To pay them a shilling--so down with the dust.

'Tis useless to speak of our writers poetical ,
Of Halleck and Bryant and Woodworth, to write;
There are others, whose trades are political--
Snowden and Townsend and Walker and Dwight.
There's Lang the detector, and Coleman the hector,
And Noah the protector and judge of the Jews,
And King the accuser, and Stone the abuser,
And Grim the confuser of morals and news.

'Tis useless to speak of the many civilities
Shown to Fayette in this country of late,
Or even to mention the splendid abilities
Clinton possesses for ruling the state.
The union of water and Erie's bright daughter
Since Neptune has caught her they'll sever no more;
And Greece and her troubles (the rhyme always doubles)
Have vanished like bubbles that burst on the shore.

'Tis useless to speak of Broadway and the Bowery,
Both are improving and growing so fast!
Who would have thought that old Stuyvesant's dowery
Would hold in its precincts a play-house at last?
Well, wonder ne'er ceases, but daily increases,
And pulling to pieces, the town to renew,
So often engages the thoughts of our sages,
That when the fit rages, what will they not do?

'Tis useless to speak of the want of propriety
In forming our city so crooked and long;
Our ancestors, bless them, were fond of variety--
'Tis naughty to say that they ever were wrong!
Tho' strangers may grumble, and thro' the streets and stumble,
Take care they don't tumble through crevices small,
For trap-doors we've plenty, on sidewalk and entry,
And no one stands sentry to see they don't fall.

'Tis useless to speak of amusements so various,
Of opera-singers that few understand;
Of Kean's reputation, so sadly precarious
When he arrived in this prosperous land.
The public will hear him--and hark! how they cheer him!
Though editors jeer him--we all must believe
He pockets the dollars of sages and scholars:
Of course then it follows--he laughs in his sleeve.

'Tis useless to speak--but just put on your spectacles,
Read about Chatham, and Peale's splendid show:
There's Scudder and Dunlap--they both have receptacles
Which, I assure you, are now all the go.
'Tis here thought polite too, should giants delight you,
And they should invite you, to look at their shapes;
To visit their dwelling, where Indians are yelling,
And handbills are telling of wonderful apes!

'Tis useless to speak of the din that so heavily
Fell on our senses as midnight drew near;
Trumpets and bugles and conch-shells, so cleverly
Sounded the welkin with happy New Year!
With jewsharps and timbrels, and musical thimbles,
Tin-platters for cymbals, and frying-pans too;
Dutch-ovens and brasses, and jingles and glasses,
With reeds of all classes, together they blew!

Then since it is useless to speak about anything
All have examined and laid on the shelf,
Perhaps it is proper to say now and then a thing
Touching the 'Mirror'--the day--and myself.
Our work's not devoted, as you may have noted,
To articles quoted from books out of print;
Instead of the latter, profusely we scatter
Original matter that's fresh from the mint.

Patrons, I greet you with feelings of gratitude;
Ladies, to please you is ever my care--
Nor wish I, on earth, for a sweeter beatitude,
If I but bask in the smiles of the fair.
Such bliss to a poet is precious--you know it--
And while you bestow it, the heart feels content:
Your bounty has made us, and still you will aid us,
But some have not paid us--we hope they'll repent!

For holyday pleasure, why these are the times for it;
Pardon me, then, for so trifling a lay;
This stanza shall end it, if I can find rhymes for it--
May you, dear patrons, be happy to-day!
Tho' life is so fleeting, and pleasure so cheating,
That we are oft meeting with accidents here,
Should Fate seek to dish you, oh then may the issue
Be what I now wish you--A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Submitted: Wednesday, October 06, 2010

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