City Lyrics

A poem by Nathaniel Parker Willis

Argument. - The poet starts from the Bowling Green to take his sweetheart up to Thompson’s for an ice, or (if she is inclined for more) ices. He confines his muse to matters which any every-day man and young woman may see in taking the same promenade for the same innocent refreshment.



Come out, love, the night is enchanting!
The moon hangs just over Broadway;
The stars are all lighted and panting,
(Hot weather up there, I dare say!)
’Tis seldom that “coolness” entices,
And love is no better for chilling,
But come up to Thompson’s for ices,
And cool your warm heart for a shilling!

What perfume comes balmily o’er us?
Mint juleps from City Hotel!
A loafer is smoking before us,
(A nasty cigar, by the smell!)
Oh Woman! thou secret past knowing!
Like lilachs that grow by the wall,
You breathe every air that is going,
Yet gather but sweetness from all!

On, on! by St. Paul’s, and the Astor!
Religion seems very ill-plann’d!
For one day we list to the pastor,
For six days we list to the band!
The sermon may dwell on the future,
The organ your pulses may calm,
When, pest! that remember’d cachucha
Upsets both the sermon and psalm!

Oh, pity the love that must utter
While goes a swift omnibus by!
(Though sweet is I scream* when the flutter
Of fans shows thermometers high),
But if what I bawl, or I mutter,
Falls into your ear but to die,
Oh, the dew that falls into the gutter
Is not more unhappy than I

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