Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NEW YORK CITY, by MAXWELL BODENHEIM

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NEW YORK CITY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: New york, it would be easy to revile
Last Line: Offers a soul to your reluctant dirt.
Subject(s): New York City; Manhattan; New York, New York; The Big Apple


New York, it would be easy to revile
The flatly carnal beggar in your smile,
And flagellate, with a superior bliss,
The gasping routines of your avarice.
Loud men reward you with an obvious ax,
Or piteous laurel-wreath, and their attacks
And eulogies blend to a common sin.
New York, perhaps an intellectual grin
That brings its bright cohesion to the warm
Confusion of the heart, can mould your swarm
Of huge, drab blunders into smaller grace . . .
With old words I shall gamble for your face.


The evening kneels between your prisoned brick,
Darkly indifferent to each scheme and trick
With which your men insult and smudge their day.
When evenings metaphysically pray
Above the weakening dance of men, they find
That every eye that looks at them is blind.
And yet, New York, I say that evenings free
An insolently mystic majesty
From your parades of automatic greed.
For one dark moment all your narrow speed
Receives the fighting blackness of a soul,
And every nervous lie swings to a whole --
A pilgrim, blurred yet proud, who finds in black
An arrogance that fills his straining lack.
Between your undistinguished crates of stone
And wood, the wounded dwarfs who walked alone --
The chorus-girls whose indiscretions hang
Between the sentinels of rouge and slang;
The women molding painfully a fresh
Reward for pliant treacheries of flesh;
The men who raise the tin sword of a creed,
Convinced that it can kill the lunge of greed;
The thieves whose beaten vanity purloins
A fancied victory from ringing coins;
The staidly bloated men whose minds have sold
Their quickness to an old, metallic Scold;
The neatly cultured men whose hopes and fears
Dwel in soft prisons honored by past years;
The men whose tortured youth bends to the task
Of fashioning a damply swaggering mask --
The night, with black hands, gathers each mistake
And strokes a mystic freedom from each ache.
The night, New York, sardonic and alert,
Offers a soul to your reluctant dirt.

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