They have watered the street, It shines in the glare of lamps, Cold, white lamps, And lies Like a slow-moving river, Barred with silver and black. Cabs go down it, One, And then another, Between them I hear the shuffling of feet. Tramps doze on the window-ledges, Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks. The city is squalid and sinister, With the silver-barred street in the midst, Slow-moving, A river leading nowhere. Opposite my window, The moon cuts, Clear and round, Through the plum-coloured night. She cannot light the city: It is too bright. It has white lamps, And glitters coldly. I stand in the window and watch the moon. She is thin and lustreless, But I love her. I know the moon, And this is an alien city.
Amy Lowell - 1874-1925
New York at Night
A near horizon whose sharp jags Cut brutally into a sky Of leaden heaviness, and crags Of houses lift their masonry Ugly and foul, and chimneys lie And snort, outlined against the gray Of lowhung cloud. I hear the sigh The goaded city gives, not day Nor night can ease her heart, her anguished labours stay. Below, straight streets, monotonous, From north and south, from east and west, Stretch glittering; and luminous Above, one tower tops the rest And holds aloft man's constant quest: Time! Joyless emblem of the greed Of millions, robber of the best Which earth can give, the vulgar creed Has seared upon the night its flaming ruthless screed. O Night! Whose soothing presence brings The quiet shining of the stars. O Night! Whose cloak of darkness clings So intimately close that scars Are hid from our own eyes. Beggars By day, our wealth is having night To burn our souls before altars Dim and tree-shadowed, where the light Is shed from a young moon, mysteriously bright. Where art thou hiding, where thy peace? This is the hour, but thou art not. Will waking tumult never cease? Hast thou thy votary forgot? Nature forsakes this man-begot And festering wilderness, and now The long still hours are here, no jot Of dear communing do I know; Instead the glaring, man-filled city groans below!