New York at Night

- 1874-1925
          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!

More by Amy Lowell

A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M.

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,
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,
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
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon, 
And this is an alien city.


You are ice and fire,
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead 
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?