A Poem (and a Photo)

NYC + Liberty

Mannahatta

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,

Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,

unruly, musical, self-sufficient,

I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,

Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,

superb,

Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and

steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,

Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,

strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,

Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,

The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining

islands, the heights, the villas,

The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,

the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model’d,

The down-town streets, the jobbers’ houses of business, the

houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-

brokers, the river-streets,

Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,

The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,

the brown-faced sailors,

The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing

clouds aloft,

The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the

river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or

ebb-tide,

The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form’d,

beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,

Trottoirs throng’d, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the

shops and shows,

A million people–manners free and superb–open voices–

hospitality–the most courageous and friendly young

men,

City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!

City nested in bays! my city!

— Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

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