Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
The Buntling Ball, 1884 (extracts)
By Edgar Fawcett
 
Mr. Buntling Speaks:

O PROUD New York, that wast New Amsterdam,
How art thou fallen away from dignity!
Methinks thy Battery and thy Bowling Green
Should split in angered earthquake at thy shame!
Thou, too, indignant Peter, shouldst arise,        5
A shade with slim clay pipe and ligneous leg,
To lay thy broad staff on the ungrateful heads
Of these thy base descendants, them that love
Gross pelf and pander to the parvenu!
For such am I, even such, and better far        10
The laboring Scythia’s westward-pointed prow
Nor me nor mine had hither borne unscathed
Through the strait Narrows; but that either strand
Had clashing met, and whelmed off Sandy Hook
The great ship’s vigor in tumultuous waves!        15
Thus were averted this unseemly Ball,
Its hollow and absurd extravagance
Checked by the grim economy of death!
 
Chorus of Knickerbocker Young Men

      Old man, do not be nonsensical
        In your views about New York;        20
      You are needlessly forensical
        For a potentate in Pork!
      Why not recollect with gratitude
        That we throng your mansion wide,
      And express no moral platitude        25
        Upon Knickerbocker pride?
      Since the days when dull old Trinity
        Was a temple far up town,
      And a girl was thought divinity
        If she owned but one silk gown;        30
      Since the days when each festivity
        They would all by twelve forsake,
        And the dominant proclivity
        Was for lemonade-and-cake;
      Since the days when aristocracy        35
        Of the gender known as male,
      Would esteem it vain plutocracy
        To exploit a swallow-tail;
      Since the days when custom’s manacle
        Was a bond of rigid force,—        40
      Since the days thus puritanical,
        We have altered things, of course.
      For the years are cruel pillagers,
        As they lay old fashions low,
      And to live like simple villagers        45
        Is no longer comme il faut.
      Our progenitors (peace be with them!)
        Were a very stupid lot,
      And so little we agree with them
        That we imitate them not.        50
      They were certainly respectable,
        As with pride we now declare,
      But we find it more delectable
        If we draw the line just there.
      For to fling aside all flattery,        55
        And to speak as hits the mark,
      They were narrow as the Battery
        When compared with Central Park.
 
 
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