Albert J. (Albert Joseph) Edmunds.

Fairmount Park and other poems online

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O'er Babylonian garden

And Persian paradise
And Indian aramo

My soaring fancy flies ;
Manorial halls of England,

In beechen shadow dark, —
I leave them all, alighting

At length in Fairmount Park.


Thou wild ! I long have loved thee,—

Hardly the work of man.
Except for fringe of railway

And bridges' airy span ;
But maple, pine and cedar

Invoke the soul to soar.
Anticipate her future.

Or muse on heretofore.

With many a friend I've wandered.

For many a year in thee ;
In thee I've thought and written,

Till echoes roll to me.
Reverberant o'er ocean

With words that first were penned
Among thy lordly meadows.

And where thy streams descend.



The smoke of Philadelphia,

A spectral haze afar,
Can harm me not, protected

As thine environs are :
No chapman's vulgar blazon

May here affront the eye,
No hearse, nor funeral pageant

May come this highway nigh.

No swine thy meads may wander,

Nor goats nor dogs be free :
Without are such : old symbols

Of sin depart from thee !
No hunter's arm may murder

Or fray thy birds away :
We here may drink nepenthe

To kin with beasts of prey.

The weight of our existence

Thy gentle breezes lift,
And calm adown the Schuylkill

A poet's dream may drift ;
Autumnal tints are glorious

On Wissahickon Heights
As all that once to Ruskin

Revealed unearthly lights.


The poet of " The Raven"

Hath mused thy woods among,
x\nd Moore hath felt the Schnylkill

Inspire his tuneful tongue.
Our classic names what Vandal

For storied writ condemns,
When Gibbon ranked the Delaware

With Ganges and with Thames ?

Here Franklin oft hath wandered

In eighteenth-century calm,
When Sunday meant a Sabbath

And care could find a balm ;
While e'en amid the turmoil

Of our one hundredth year
The youthful Rockhill pondered

On Orient wisdom here.

Ah, lovely Wissahickon !

If but the past were thine.
And Greeks were nigh to worship,

Thy foam would be divine ;
Within thy noonday twilight

The muse a shrine would rear.
And on thy cliffs at evening

The gods would oft appear.

But Quaker vied with German

To turn thy stream to gain,
To churn thy holy waters

With mills at every lane.
Then burst the Revolution,

And Hessian cannon boomed
Among thy hills, " horrendous"

To martial soul begloomed.


The mills are now in ruin.

Gone are the warlike roars.
And Fairmount Park enfoldeth

Thy thrice enchanted shores :
Oh, may some genius guard thee

From foul invasion now
By sons of Belial-Jehu

Before whose gold we bow.

■ Thy trees, like lines of mountain.

Serrated high in air.
Thy broadening pool reposeful,

Unutterably fair.
In solitudes of morning

Exalt the daily round ;
Yet all this Alpine wildness

Is in the civic bound.



Could Socrates or Gotamo

In contemplation walk
Beneath thy fiery woodland,

And by thy waters talk,
The shades that erst were hallowed

By Washington and Penn
Were fitting Academias

To hive new thought for men.

When Buddha 'neath the sal-trees

Which, all one mass of bloom
With blossoms out of season.

Shed o'er him their perfume.
With Anando beside him.

Composed himself to die.
The prophet of the open air

By no means bade good-bye.

For us the sacred heir-loom.

From Pi^ATO in the Grove
And Jesus on the mountain,

The weft of Scripture wove ;
And in the long hereafter

Who knows what thunder-voice.
In Pennsylvanian gardens.

May make the world rejoice ?


Not only beating hammers

And rush of railway roar
Shall wake thy rural echoes,

As now, for evermore :
The dream of man will alter

When, through titanic rifts
In cloudy lines of battle,

The ages' drama shifts.


When mines are spent, and millions

Obey the ancient law,
Avaunt the "steeple-chimney"

Carlyle beheld with awe ;
No more the pall in heaven.

No more the stream defiled,
For man shall then be master.

And yet eternal child.

Again the shepherd quiet

Shall o'er the planet rest,
And forms adored aforetime

Be worshipped in the West :
The pipe of Pan shall soothe us.

To Dryad haunts enticed.
And summer hills re-echo

The pastoral prayer of Christ.

Fairmount Park and Germantown :



Verse 1.

Line 2. Paradise is a Persian word carried over into the
Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New.
(DT^iSS in Eccles. ii 5 and Canticles iv 13 ; TrapaSeto-os in Luke
xxiii 43 ; 2 Cor. xii 4 ; Apoc. ii 7). Palestine was a Persian
province for two hundred years, and this word is one out of
several connecting links between Mazdeism and Christianity.
Its original meaning was simply a park, until Hebrew and Chris-
tian eschatology transfigured it to mean the abode of the Blessed.

Line 3. Aramo (pronounced Ahrahmo) is the Pali word for
a park, (Sanskrit aramas). As rich patrons presented parks to
the Buddhist Order in its early days, the word came to mean a
cloister-garden. It is cognate with the '^pr\\i.o% (wilderness) of
the New Testament, which means a lonely place. In the Sacred
Books of the East, edited by Max Miiller, aramo is contracted
into the stem-form arama, which, as Karl Neumann rightly says,
is neither Sanskrit nor Pali. In my translations from Pali I
use the nominative case in transcribing proper names, for the
sake of correctness, following the scholarly instinct of the
Greeks, who were the first Europeans to transliterate Sanskrit
words. But in poetry I use this form in -o, not merely for cor-
rectness, but for music. Edwin Arnold, in his Light of Asia-
has the noble line :

"The Buddha died, the great Tathagato."
This would be spoilt by the barbarous Europeanised " Tathaga,
ta," which is the stem-form of the word and also the vocative
case, and should never be used in transcription.

To those who object to the introduction of this Pali word
aramo into the present poem, I reply that it is as lawful as
Academia in Verse 7. Our culture for ages has been pro-
vincial, having the Mediterranean Sea for its centre, and Greece,
Rome and Judsea for its classic nations. But since the acquisi-
tion of India by the English, and still more of the Philippine
Islands by the Americans, bringing in their train the revolution
of trade routes and the translation of the Sacred Books of the


East, our culture is becoming- cosmic, with the Pacific Ocean,
instead of an inland lake, for its centre ; and to our own classic
nations we must now add India first and foremost, and after-
wards the Chinese and Persian Empires. When this new plan-
etary culture supplants the provincial, the aramo immortalized
by Gotamo will be just as classic as the Academy immortalized
by Plato. We shall then be able to appreciate Edward Gibbon's
collocation of Persians and Chinamen with Greeks : — " the
learned and civilized nations of the South : the Greeks the
Persians and the Chinese." {^Decline and Fall^ Chapter 26.)

Verse 2.

Line 4. " Echoes " refers to certain passages in the preface
to my translation of the Dhammapada, quoted by British re-
viewers. This preface was written in the Park, in the meadow
beside Memorial Hall, September, 1901.

Line 7. I should almost prefer :

" Thy lordly lawns around me."
But an adverbial phrase in the nominative absolute is obscure
to many. This is one of the drawbacks of a weakly inflected
language. In Sanskrit and Pali, Greek and Latin, the phrase
would be perfectly clear, being in the locative absolute in the
first two, and in the genitive and ablative respectively in the
two last.

Verse 4.

Line 5. Some would prefer :

" No vile commercial blazon."

But this is too sonorous : I purposely made this line harsh.
As to any who may object to the antique word " chapman," I
must ask them to read that noblest monument of classical Eng-
lish, the King James version of the Old Testament. (2 Chron.
ix 14). " Chapman " (i. e. shopman or cheapman : compare
Cheapside, Copenhagen, etc.) is simply the English word for
" merchant," which is French. It is best known in these deca-
dent days, by its colloquial contraction, "chap." P'or " chap-
man," see Shakespeare : Love's Labour's Lost," Act II, Scene 1 ;
Troilus and Cressida, Act IV, Scene 1 . Also Burns : Tam O'
Shanter ; Epitaph on Thomas Kennedy of New York ; and
Election Ballad, No. 4.


Verse 5.

This verse was written on October 22, 1002, after re-reading
the Park Regulations.

The last line refers to the Darwinian doctrine, which I have
held since 1880.

Verse 6.

The allusion to Wissahickon Heights, and indeed the whole
poem, was inspired bv a walk to the Wissahickon with the
T family on Sunday, October 20, 1902.

Line 7. See Ruskin's description of autumn foliage at Ar-
icia, in Modern Painters^ Vol 1, chapter on truth of color.

Verse 7.

Edgar Allan Poe lived in Philadelphia from 1838 to 1844.
The Philadelphia Directory for 1843 gives his residence as :
" Coates, near Fairmount," i. e. Fairmount Avenue, near the
old Park. The Directory for 1844 has : " Seventh, above Spring

Thomas Moore was in Philadelphia in 1804. See his " Lines
on leaving Philadelphia," and especially his Epistle to W. R.
Spencer, written from Buffalo, N. Y. After reproaching the
United States for its then lack of culture, he breaks forth :

" Yet, yet forgive me, oh ! you sacred few
Whom late by Delaware's green banks I knew."

And again :

" Believe me, Spencer, while I winged the hours
Where Schuylkill undulates through banks of flowers," etc.

Moore was the guest of Joseph Dennie, editor of the Portfolio^
and at that time the leader of American letters. He was called
the American Addison. There is a picture of him at the His-
torical Society of Pennsylvania, and a long account by Albert
H. Smyth, in his "Philadelphia Magazines": Phila., 1892.
Dennie lived at 113, Walnut street, which, says Dr. John W.
Jordan, was at that time near Third street.

Scharf and Westcott's History of Philadelphia (1884) ex-
plodes the theory that Moore occupied a cottage in the Park.

In recent times the word Schuylkill has become a by-word
and a jest throughout the Republic, on account of its foul drink-
ing-water. But no corrupt politics, which has delayed so long


the now coming filtration, has been able to efface the beauty of
the Schuylkill beween Fainnount Dam and the Falls, to say
nothing of that river's upper reaches. For a splendid scientific
description of the Schuylkill, see J. P. Lesley's Summary De-
scription of the Geology of Pemisylvania : Harrisburgh, 1892,
vol. 1, p. 118.

Lines 7 and 8. " The conquests of our language and liter-
ature are not confined to Europe alone, and a writer who suc-
ceeds in London is speedily read on the banks of the Delaware
and the Ganges." Gibbon : Autobiography, Chap. 24. From
MS. E.

This whole verse I added on account of the criticism of a
friend who objected that the Schuylkill was not a fit subject for
poetry !

Verse 8.

Line 1. See Franklin's Autobiography.

Line 7. William Woodville Rockhill, the diplomatist, was
born in Philadelphia in 1854 ; studied Eastern languages in
France ; served in Algeria, 1873-1876 ; and is well known as
the author of the best account in English of the Tibetan re-
cension of the Buddhist Scriptures.

Verse 10.

Line 7. Armstrong, in his official report on the battle of
Germantown, says that he carried off one field-piece, but was
obliged to leave the other "in the Horrenduous \_sic\ hills of
the Wissihickon." [sic] (Letter to Thomas Wharton, dated:
Lancaster, Oct. 5, 1777.)

Verse 13.

Line 6. It is well known that Washington lived in Phila-
delphia from 1700 to 1797. His house, demolished in 1833,
occupied the site of 526, 528 and 530, Market street. See me-
morial tablet ; also, Washington after the Revolution^ by Wil-
liam Spohn Baker. (Phila., 1898).

Verse 14.

Sai is pronounced " salil." For this glorious passage from
the Pali Book of the Great Decease, see Sacred Books of the
East, Vol. XI, p. 86. " All one mass of bloom " is a faithful


translation by Rhys Davids of a magnificent Pali phrase : sahba-
_Anando (pronounced "Ahnundo") is commonly written
Ananda. He was Buddha's beloved desciple.

Verse 15.

That Plato, through Philo the Jew, has influenced the New
Testament, see Percy Gardner's Exploratio Evangelica : Lon-
don, 1899. This work has been well described by a German
scholar as the best account of the origin of the Gospels in Eng-
lish. The Platonic philosophy appears especially in John and
the Epistle to_the Hebrews. See also Col. I, 15, 16.

Line 6. "Anando with his thunder-voice recites the Sutras."
Wong-pu's Life of Buddha (Ssec. VII.)

Verse 17.

Line 3. Carlyle : Past and Present^ chapter on the Twelfth

Line 8. "The great man is he who does not lose his child-
heart."— Mencius. Shelley has been called " The Eternal Child."

A poem on the Park, entitled Faire-Moiuit^ by Henry Peter-
son, appeared at Philadelphia in 1874. It opens with some
noble lines :

" On Schuylkill's banks, where hills of beauty rise,
'Neath the deep blue of Pensylvania skies,

Oft have I wandered, from the world apart,
To feed the immortal hunger of the heart."
The author deals chiefly with Robert Morris and other Revo-
lutionary heroes.



In a day long dead, by a river wide,
A city, now as if glorified —
Vanished, extinct as a grave in Greece —
Asylum lent to the sons of peace.

The walks were planted with shady trees,
And gardens perfumed the High Street breeze ;
The founder's home was of storeys twain,
And every road was a country lane.

Some crowded alleys and courts were there.
But all were nigh to the river fair.
Where quaint old ships, with their sails unfurled.
The fame of the city took round the world.

Up High Street now in a dream I drive ;
'Tis seventeen hundred and ninety-five ;
One Edmund Hogan^ my coachman is.
Who knoweth the capital's mysteries.

At Second Street are the Court House" grey
And a crowded mart^ in the midst of the way,
And over against it a house of prayer^ —
The Quaker CathedraP some call it there.

Here lately a shrewd little schoolboy*' sat.
Noting each Friend in his broad-brimmed hat,
And painting at last, through the long years' mist,
A scene to be used by the Annalist.

James Pemberton sits here, shine or rain,
With both hands crossed on his ancient cane.
And Nicholas Waln with a smile is seen.
And Thomas Scattergood's eye serene.
While Arthur Howell's enshrouded guise
Is wrapped in a mystery, prophet-wise.


^olian harp-tones rise and fall
When William Savery'vS lips recall
The Quaker message of light and peace,
Whose vibrant music shall never cease.

A sound from a forge the heart hath stirred
When Daniel OfflEy proclaimed the word.
Two years ago of the plague'' he fell,
When Evangeline mourned her Gabriel.
But who can recount the worthies here ?
Reprover, consoler and mystic seer.*

At Ninth Street reach we the city's verge
Where woods in the open country merge ;
But turn we away from the grass that rolls
To see the vision of human souls.

Behold Another who walks our stones.
With an iron will that has humbled thrones ;
No Quaker he, but a warrior form,
That rode on the wings of the battle-storm,
Just now the sage of a nation free.
Enthroned like Simon the Maccabee.

Yes, along this road on the left there stands
A mansion famous in many lands f
The High Street here is adorned with trees, ^"
Where Washington holdeth his state levees.

One hundred and ninety his numbered door ;
But the President's palace is now no more ;
For, alas ! I wake from the reverie sweet
In a twentieth-century Market Street.

Where he with Hamilton ofttimes met
In that Olympian Cabinet —
Gone, gone with the gods of the Nevermore,
Now merchants barter and waggons roar.


Ah ! feel we never, who Fifth Street cross,
As though we had shot the albatross ?
For holy ground unto man and God
Were the halls where the nation's hero trod.

"Aside, on the benches of Franklin Square,
A workman at eve released from care
May dream of the wilds of the days of old
And list for the tread of the searcher bold
Who here the innnortal kite let fly
And snatched the bolt from an angry sky ;
He snatched the soul from a thunderstorm.
And power from a towering tyrant-form —
The boy forlorn with the weary feet,
Who wheeled his burden on Market Street.

O [Market Street ! in what region vast
Are all these phantoms from out thy past ?

Now noise succeeds to the Quaker trance,
And iron cars to the horses' prance,
And, for storeys twain to a home of pra}'er.
Phalansteries piled by a millionaire.

O Quaker City ! what days are these ?
No rest at eve under High Street trees,
No sunrise call on the watchman's round.
No silent city in sleep profound.

For a tidal wave from the age of steam
Hath carried away that antique dream.
And in vain we search for the hero-race
'Mid jar and jangle of commonplace.

"'The blades, whereby in the Delaware,
Poor Fitch careered on her waters fair.
Now multiplied by a thousandfold.
Have borne us far from the days of old.



Where once an august Convention bound
God's newborn States in a league profound
Now demons juggle with freemen's lives —
All free to struggle when usury thrives.

Where Friends once pondered in Centre Square
There now* sinks hellward a daily pra^'er
That the rights of man in the dust be trod
Till the Hall be ripe for the wrath of God.

Oh, give us the years, so far and fleet,

When ambassadors lived down Market Street !'*

Yet know I souls with a hope sublime,^^
Who pray for the dawn of a juster time ;
With white wings folded, their hearts pursue
The quiet life, with the goal in view.

They only wait for a Fox or Penn
To gather the children of God again.
Oh, who shall garner this human wheat.
Now lost in the crowd on INIarket Street ?

All, all we crave is the rallying cry.
To make these days as the days gone by ;
To make them more, for the God we need
Is a life-power keeping the freeman freed.
Purge hall and hovel with air of morn.
Command that a weakling shall never be born.

Ah, Philadelphia ! there doth remain
From those lost ages one faded fane ;
We guard and laud it with heart and lip,
As Athens guarded the sacred ship.

* Written early in 1905.


The Ark of the nation's fate it seems,

And ever it haunts our stormy dreams,

As on that day"' when a Lincoln gazed

At its mouldering stones and the flag he raised.

That mystic minster had thrilled him through,

And the prayer he uttered was all too true.

By night he rode as a man unknown^^
Down Seventeenth Street till the hour had flown,
And a train from the Southern depot bore
The nation's elect unto Baltimore.

That depot dark is a heritage
From the troublous times of our middle age,
But the railroad's birth and the Civil War
Have left the State House calm as of yore.

We love thee, O vision old and sweet
Amidst the Rialto of Chestnut Street, —
Thou stranded salvage of bygone years !
Thou star of a thousand hopes and fears !

'Twas here the lightning of modern time
Flashed forth from thee with a thunder chime;
For forty summers were kings repulsed,'"^
And earth and heaven in wrath convulsed.

If the freed for freedom must fight once more,
God grant us a sage from the days of yore !
May no Napoleon ever be,
But another Washington throned in thee.

No bank's proud portal, no civic tower,
Can awe the heart with a half tin- power,
And even the belfry of Christ Church old
No tone like thine on the breeze hath rolled.

For never cathedral chime could swell
An American heart as the Liberty Bell :
The State is more than the Church, I trow —
The Federal Westminster Abbey thou !
1905 and 1000.



^ Author of The Prospect of Philadelphia^ which is a directory
for 1795, arranged by streets. In this book one can walk about
the old city in imagination, among streets haunted by French
emigres and all the motley population of the time.

- Built in 1707, demolished in 1837.

^ In 1795 the market sheds extended along the middle of High
Street from Front to Fourth. See John Hills' map of 1796.

^ "The Great Meeting House," built in 1695, rebuilt in 1755,
and supplanted by Arch Street meeting-house in 1804, It was
at the S. W. corner of Second and Market Streets, and is mem-
orable as the scene of Franklin's first sleep in Philadelphia !

'" Watson's Annals of Philapelphia^ Vol. I, p. 500. The pagi-
nation of this book (except for some appendices) has been un-
changed since 1844. The fine old first edition of 1830 contains
plates which were never reproduced. The art of engraving
appears to have degenerated after the opening of the railroad
age. These plates have a national, not merely a local signifi-
cance, so that I was astonished to find the book lacking in the
Boston Public Library during a tour through the libraries of
New Eno-land and New York in the summer of 1905. I con-
sider this book one of the most remarkable productions of the
last century. Its author, born during the American Revolution
and dying on the eve of the Civil War, saw with his own eyes
the transition from old Philadelphia, with its pillories, tinder-
boxes and tiny window-panes in shops up flights of steps, to the
noisy metropolis that builds locomotives for a hemisphere. The
passages added to the later editions are very instructive, es-
pecially those on the decay of monarchical manners and the rise
of republican ones. The great changes which passed over Phila-
delphia between 1840 and 1859 are alluded to by Edwin Har-
wood, in his address to the Pennsylvanian Alumni in the latter
year : " The College has changed ; the town has no longer its
staid old uniform appearance."

^ William McKoy, first teller in the Bank of North America.
See Watson I, 182 and 507. This man wrote, under the pen-


name of Lang Syne, a series of reminiscences of Philadelphia in
Ponlson's American Daily Advertiser for 1828-1829. {Potclsoifs
was an ancestor of our present North Americaii). A few of
these articles were reprinted in Samuel Hazard's Register of
Pennsylvania^ but most of them have never been reprinted.
They are to be found pasted into Watson's MS. Annals at the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania. They ought to be pub-
lished in book form. Watson speaks highly of McKoy's lively
style, and regrets that the latter's position in life did not per-
mit him to write more. Some German critic of the future
may hunt up these articles with the zest of a scholar searching
for lost sources of Tacitus. McKoy's description of the Quaker
ministers has here been partially versified. " An imperturbable
severity rested upon the dark features of Thomas Scattergood,"
says the text, where severity is an obvious newspaper misprint
for serejiity. McKoy's name last appears in the Directory for
1831. He lived at 8 Powell Street, which ran from Fifth to
Sixth, above Pine.

^ Daniel Offley, the Quaker blacksmith, died of the yellow
fever in October, 1793. See BiograpJiical Sketches and Anec-
dotes of Friends. Philadelphia, 1871. [By Joseph Walton].
When Watson (1.430) speaks of "the reminiscent" looking
through the Front Street windows of Offley's anchor forge, he
is quoting McKoy.

'^ Samuel Emlen.

^ Among many travelers who called on Washington in those
years may be mentioned Chateaubriand, the celebrated reaction-
ary writer of the French Restoration. In 1791 he was an ob-
scure young man, as he says himself, while Washington was at
the height of his fame. Speaking of the presidential abode, he
says : " Une petite maison dans le genre anglois, ressemblant
aux maisons voisines, etoit le palais du president des Etats-Unis :
point de gardes, pas meme de valets." A maidservant said,
' Walk in, sir,' and walked before him " dans un de ces etroits
et longs corridors qui servent de vestibule aux maisons an-
gloises." Chateaubriand presented a letter from Colonel Ar-
mand (then Marquis de la Rouairie), and proceeded to tell the

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Online LibraryAlbert J. (Albert Joseph) EdmundsFairmount Park and other poems → online text (page 1 of 3)