On the Plaza

Original Text: 
Bliss Carman, Echoes from Vagabondia, 2nd edn. (Boston: Small, Maynard, 1913), pp. 24-26. PS 8455 A7E33 Robarts Library.
1One August day I sat beside
2A café window open wide
3To let the shower-freshened air
4Blow in across the Plaza, where
5In golden pomp against the dark
6Green leafy background of the Park,
7St. Gaudens' hero, gaunt and grim,
8Rides on with Victory leading him.
9The wet, black asphalt seemed to hold
10In every hollow pools of gold,
11And clouds of gold and pink and gray
12Were piled up at the end of day,
13Far down the cross street, where one tower
14Still glistened from the drenching shower.
15A weary, white-haired man went by,
16Cooling his forehead gratefully
17After the day's great heat. A girl,
18Her thin white garments in a swirl
19Blown back against her breasts and knees,
20Like a Winged Victory in the breeze,
21Alive and modern and superb,
22Crossed from the circle of the curb.
23We sat there watching people pass,
24Clinking the ice against the glass
25And talking idly-books or art,
26Or something equally apart
27From the essential stress and strife
28That rudely form and further life,
29Glad of a respite from the heat,
30When down the middle of the street,
31Trundling a hurdy-gurdy, gay
32In spite of the dull-stifling day,
33Three street-musicians came. The man,
34With hair and beard as black as Pan,
35Strolled on one side with lordly grace,
36While a young girl tugged at a trace
37Upon the other. And between
38The shafts there walked a laughing queen,
39Bright as a poppy, strong and free.
40What likelier land than Italy
41Breeds such abandon? Confident
42And rapturous in mere living spent
43Each moment to the utmost, there
44With broad, deep chest and kerchiefed hair,
45With head thrown back, bare throat, and waist
46Supple, heroic and free-laced,
47Between her two companions walked
48This splendid woman, chaffed and talked,
49Did half the work, made all the cheer
50Of that small company.
51                No Fear
52Of failure in a soul like hers
53That every moment throbs and stirs
54With merry ardor, virile hope,
55Brave effort, nor in all its scope
56Has room for thought of discontent,
57Each day its own sufficient vent
58And source of happiness.
59                Without
60A trace of bitterness or doubt
61Of life's true worth, she strode at ease
62Before those empty palaces,
63A simple heiress of the earth
64And all its joys by happy birth,
65Beneficent as breeze or dew,
66And fresh as though the world were new
67And toil and grief were not. How rare
68A personality was there!
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Published in Town Topics
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.