Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PANORAMA, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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PANORAMA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Street sights! Street sounds! The wonder of it grows
Last Line: And flamed from every star!
Subject(s): City & Town Life


Street sights! Street sounds! The wonder of it grows.
Here in the midst of Babel I would wait
And mark the eddying throes
And labors of this maelstrom fed by Fate.

Bright color interweaves, --
No sober staidness and no calm design.
Here, with the pomp and play of afternoon on autumn leaves,
High lights and vivid colors glow and shine.

The gray-massed masonry strikes a dull leaden note
Above the crawling crowds -- yet, as in dream,
Past walls of many a golden cavern-throat
Uninterrupted pours the motley stream.

And faces call me. Heavy brows, loud tongues,
Or pale pastels of sharp despair flash by.
Ladder of life, that sinks its lower rungs
Deep in the anguish of humanity!

Romance with beggary at shoulder-press,
Momus and Artemis in step to tunes
That flaunt from tawdry arcades of ingress
'Mid roars from life's buffoons!

An old sad man, drooped with a weight of thought,
Rasps at a violin in plaintive key.
There was an age when the nine maids were brought
Not low so easily!

Buildings, the hopes you hide, the hard-won joys,
Your glory of toil, dim now your grimmer guise.
Rank upon rank your martyr host deploys
To daily sacrifice,

But see! As even-change turns gold to gray
With sudden hush, here -- even here -- the calm
Voice o'er man's tumult of the end of day
Thrills like a radiant psalm.

Life's mire hides pearls, -- aye, pearls of secret splendor!
There a drab, home-bound laborer stands erect
Before a fire-shot spire, and worn eyes render
Homage the calloused heart can scarce suspect.

I heard a work-girl singing to her lover
What doubts, what dreams there are;
And then -- man's courage streamed the wild skies over,
And flamed from every star!





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