Pan in Wall Street

A.D. 1867

3Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont
5Where, hour by hour, the rates of gold
6    Outrival, in the ears of people,
7The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled
9Even there I heard a strange, wild strain
10    Sound high above the modern clamor,
11Above the cries of greed and gain,
12    The curbstone war, the auction's hammer;
13And swift, on Music's misty ways,
14    It led, from all this strife for millions,
15To ancient, sweet-do-nothing days
17And as it stilled the multitude,
18    And yet more joyous rose, and shriller,
19I saw the minstrel, where he stood
21One hand a droning organ played,
23Like those of old) to lips that made
24    The reeds give out that strain impassioned.
25'T was Pan himself had wandered here
26    A-strolling through this sordid city,
27And piping to the civic ear
28    The prelude of some pastoral ditty!
29The demigod had crossed the seas,--
30    From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr,
32    Far shores and twenty centuries later.
33A ragged cap was on his head;
34    But -- hidden thus -- there was no doubting
35That, all with crispy locks o'erspread,
36    His gnarlèd horns were somewhere sprouting;
37His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,
38    Were crossed, as on some frieze you see them,
39And trousers, patched of divers hues,
40    Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.
41He filled the quivering reeds with sound,
42    And o'er his mouth their changes shifted,
43And with his goat's-eyes looked around
44    Where'er the passing current drifted;
46    The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him,
47Even now the tradesmen from their tills,
48    With clerks and porters, crowded near him.
51As erst, if pastorals be true,
52    Came beasts from every wooded valley;
53The random passers stayed to list,--
57A one-eyed Cyclops halted long
58    In tattered cloak of army pattern,
60    A blowsy, apple-vending slattern;
62    From some new-fangled lunch-house handy,
63And bade the piper, with a shout,
65A newsboy and a peanut-girl
67His hair was all in tangled curl,
68    Her tawny legs were bare and taper;
69And still the gathering larger grew,
70    And gave its pence and crowded nigher,
71While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew
72    His pipe, and struck the gamut higher.
73O heart of Nature, beating still
74    With throbs her vernal passion taught her,--
75Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,
77New forms may fold the speech, new lands
78    Arise within these ocean-portals,
79But Music waves eternal wands,--
80    Enchantress of the souls of mortals!
81So thought I, -- but among us trod
82    A man in blue, with legal baton,
83And scoffed the vagrant demigod,
84    And pushed him from the step I sat on.
85Doubting I mused upon the cry,
86    "Great Pan is dead!" -- and all the people
87Went on their ways: -- and clear and high
88    The quarter sounded from the steeple.


1] Treasury: Federal Hall, across the street from the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, a government sub-treasury building at this time, and striking for its tall Doric pillars. Back to Line
2] Wall Street: the financial district in New York. Stedman was a member of the New York Stock Exchange there from 1865 to 1900. Back to Line
4] quotations: current prices to buy stocks and commodities. Back to Line
8] Trinity: Trinity Church, an Episcopal parish church on the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. Back to Line
16] kirtle: man's tunic. Back to Line
20] Doric: ."The name of one of the three Grecian orders (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), of which it is the oldest, strongest, and simplest." (OED). Back to Line
22] Pan's-pipe: syrinx (woodwind instrument) of the Greek god of herds and shepherds, shaped as a man with the legs, ears, and horns of a goat. Back to Line
31] Syracusan times: Syracuse in Sicily was founded in the eighth century B.C. by Greeks. Back to Line
45] Trinacrian hills: Trinacria was a medieval name for Sicily. Back to Line
49] A bull market is one where stock-values rise, and a bear market experiences losses. Back to Line
50] Jauncey Court occupied the rear of Nos.37, 39 and 41 Wall St.
New Street Alley: not found. Back to Line
54] Ægon: Greek god of athletic and racing contests. Back to Line
55] Broadway: oldest major street running north-south in Manhattan, and the heart of the theatre district. Daphnis: mythic Greek shepherd who invented pastoral verse. Back to Line
56] Nais: water-nymph loved of the Greek sea-god Neptune. Back to Line
59] Galatea: sea-nymph whose beloved, Acis, was killed by the cyclops Polyphemus. Back to Line
61] Silenus: Greek name for the god of wine, Dionysus. Back to Line
64] A patriotic song from George M. Cohan's Broadway musical Little Johnny Jones (1904). Back to Line
66] Fauns: Pan-like goat-humans. Back to Line
76] Arethusan: ancient Sicilian fountain, once Arethusa, a nereid nymph. Back to Line
Publication Notes: 
The Poems of Edmund Clarence Stedman (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908): 90-92. Internet Archive
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: