Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Troy's Centennial—1789—1889" by Franklin Jay Parmenter (1889)

Troy's Centennial—1789—1889


Where rolls the rapid Delaware to greet the Schuylkill's tide

       A band of hardy patriots resolved, whate'er betide,

That this fair land Columbus found, to which the Pilgrims fled,

       Should bow beneath no tyrant's rod while they had blood to shed!

They fought, they won, and passed away, and on their graves the sun,

       As mindful of such sacred dust, an hundred years has shone.

Their country's harps their praise have hymned, and History's graver pen

       Has traced the struggle well and oft of those bold-hearted men;

And as we celebrate to-day a City's birth, and view.

       With hasty glance, her mighty strides a busy Century through,

Our hearts turn back to those true souls that sowed for us to reap,

       And their bequest of Liberty in grateful memory keep!

And other men, and nearer friends crowd on the scene to-day:

       The Founders of our City that so lately passed away,

Whose vigorous brain impelled the power that, like Uranus' son,

       Struck with a hundred-handed force till victory was won,

And "Vanderheyden's Ferry" that had grown a strong-limbed boy

       Received the manly toga, and the classic name of Troy;—

A name the blind old harper sang throughout the Isles of Greece,

       A City war can't terrify although her paths are peace!

Of those gray Sires to whom we owe so great a debt, a few

       As they were stepping Heavenward, ourselves and children knew

A Tibbits with his stalwart frame worn more by toil than age,

       Once only, and while Death looked on, I saw that reverend Sage;

Like him, the Warren brothers left their impress all around.

       And we behold with grateful hearts their footprints on the ground;

Nor does it bring less joy to us or the observant Muse

       To see their children's children stand in the ancestral shoes.

The Lanes, the Vails, the Harts unite in equal zeal with those,

       And like her ancient prototype our lofty City rose;

That upon old Scamander's bank and this by Hudson side,

       As wide apart in time and place their fame may be as wide;

Though let us hope that odes shall not beneath the sword expire;

       As for its ally, we have shown we gather strength from fire!

But let us pause to look around and mark what change is here

       Where scarcely stops the cradle's rock before we call the bier,—

Along the shores of yon bright stream that rolls his peaceful tide

       Whilom, the red Mohigan in his bark canoe did glide:

And where the cunning [?] wheel in ponderous round is whirred,

       In aid of Labor's handicraft the Pequoit yell was heard.

And all along our eastern bounds and where the Poestenkill

       To turn the spindles of the town leaps roaring down the hill,

The Indian camp fires burned; and there beside the brawling stream,

       The dusky brave his maiden wooed beneath pale Dian's beam;

They did not tarry long with us, but they have left behind

       The most euphonious names of all that History can find:

Tomhannock, Mohawk, Wompecanek, and Schaghticoke are known;

       Bad taste has blotted others out and interlined his own.

Our thoughts come back to later times, and with a joyous pride,

       Hail Fulton's genius panting up the noble Hudson's tide;

No son of ours, but yet we feel an interest in his fame,

       And every town the tide waves wash should bless his sacred name!

See yonder toiling Ferryboat, two horses on each side,

       Sore struggling under thousand oath to cross the heaving tide,

Lo, what a change! [?] built craft floats gracefully and free;

       A Stillman applied the steam where "Bromny's power was, "[?]"

And on the glorious river's breast where crawled the sloop so slow,

       Dependent on the fitful breeze whether she stand or go,

The rapid steamers laden with the products of our town,

       With busy men, and women fair, sail swiftly up and down;

And on our streets the lumbering [?] no longer shocks the sight,

       And Gas and Electricity have put whale-oil to flight.

To Morse who loosed the Lightning's tongue, to him whose telephone,

       As man to man or woman speaks, to both our debt we own;

Yet to our own home enterprise the stirring Century through,

       More than to any other source our present strength is due.

One instance must suffice to show how Trojans override

       All obstacles that come athwart their profit or their pride:—

Three stout young Trojans (two of whom are now returned to clay,

       Though Robinson is vigorous still) felt much inclined one day,

       To stroll through Boston Commons, but the Mountain barred their way!

Opposed by such tremendous power what could our trio do?

       Return?—They seized the pick and spade and forced the daylight through,

Went on their course, surveyed "The Hub," secured what freight they could,

       And then came back; but Weed and Vail are resting at Oakwood!

Trade and our Manufactories are seldom idle here,

       Except when Labor, wrong or right, gets upon his ear,

Throws by his tools, suspends his craft, and forming some compact,

       Blessed if himself and Capital both suffer from the act.

'T is strange a twain that God ordained to journey hand in hand

       Can find no common ground where each with equal rights may stand!

We must not boast too much to-day, though pride may tinge the theme

       And vanity close whisper us to let the eagle scream;

And so my Muse with humble brow forbears to sing or say

       Yon mountain could not stop our march nor conflagrations stay;

       But modesty, she thinks, may urge nor startle him who hears,

That not a city in the state within these hundred years,

       Has taken longer strides, and shown what enterprise can do,

Aided by thoughtful hand and brain, with future weal in view,

       Than this, the City of our love, that sits on Hudson's shore,

Whose furnaces and workshops ring with labor's ceaseless roar,

       And where to Toil and Capital she opens wide her door.

Where so much virtue can be found within our city's bounds,

       If one should find a fault or two it should not call for frowns;

Most rules have their exception, and the virtues I have named

       Cannot be dimmed by censure, nor should blush when justly blamed;

So if my now censorious Muse in tune a little out

       With her glad song that's gone before shall sing to you about

A few sad evils that exist but easy to remove,

       She hopes you'll heed the parting strain and cordially approve;

You'll own it is a sore reproach that seventy thousand dweel

       Within a city that contains not one first-class hotel!

Those that we have are fairly kept but surely cannot vie

       With many in less wealthy towns that stand reproachful by!

And then we need a cable road, an inclined plane at least,

       So that our pent-up citizens will people the broad East

That lies in sunlight sweet and vast, and smiling with good will,

       And singing in her healthful voice, "wise men, come o'er the Hill!"

Besides, we've not a breathing spot to free the lungs of Toil,

       Where Pain may find a quick relief and Pleasure stroll awhile;

Where Beauty with her warming face may trip along to see,

       As if she saw him not, her lover sighing by the tree;

Where Age may hold his crutch, and sit beneath the tuneful shade

       And take a little grateful rest before his grave is made;

And where the heaviest taxpayer may find relief from care,

       Nor think his purse too highly taxed for all his comforts there.

Do I assume too much my friends, when I express belief,

       That ere these blessings come to us the time will be but brief?

Surely, our man of Ross has not the only heart that beats

       With philanthropic sentiment upon our crowded streets

A thousand others just as strong but on the pulse less fast

       Only require some time for thought before the die is cast.

But I must close; the century ends, and here must end my song;

       [?], or I would sing [?] will be remembered long;

It but remains for me to hope the next one hundred years

       May bring to those [?] more joy and fewer tears.

Troy Daily Times. January 5, 1889: 11 cols 6-7

The formatting of the poem has been changed somewhat, since each line had been broken by the newspaper into two lines in order to fit in a column.

Unfortunately, the scan of the microfilm of the newspaper is too faint and blurry in some parts to make out some words. Hopefully a better copy exists; perhaps some day if the original newspapers still exist then new scans could be made directly from them.

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