The Literary Maiden

A compendium of obscure 19th century writing.

“Facilis Decensus Avenue” by George Arnold


Facilis Decensus Avenue
George Arnold
From Vanity Fair, May 26, 1860

“We see that one of our fashionable tailors has broken ground in Fifth Avenue, and converted one of the fine mansions there, into a magazine of garments…In a short time we may expect to see most of the magnificent private residences in this avenue converted into retail stores and shops.”—Herald.

According to popular talk
The Palatial street of New-York
Is falling from grace
At a terrible pace!
I hear, when I promenade there,
Strange voices of grief in the air,
And I fancy I see
The sad sisters three,
With their black trailing dresses,
And dishevelled tresses,
Go solemn and slow
To and fro
In their woe,
And crying
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH-AVENUE!”

O, sorry and sad was the day
When this Tailor came up from Broadway,
With his stitches,
And breeches,
His shears and his goose—
His fashions profuse—
To the house that has been
In years I have seen,
Most aristocratic
From basement to attic!
But gone are the flush and the fair,
And those voices still float in the air
And crying
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH-AVENUE!”

Where sweet CRINOLINA once slept,
The sempstresses, maybe, are kept;
And perhaps in her dressing-room, where
Her maid combed that glistening hair
Some cross-legged fellow,
Round-shouldered and yellow,
May sit with his needle and thread;
For the glory that reigned there, has fled!
How oft to that door she ascended—
When the ball or the party was ended—
Flushed, beautiful, bright,
A Queen of delight,
An angel quite worthy of heaven—
To that door, now, a tailor’s-cart’s driven!
No wonder that voice cries “Eheu!”
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH AVENUE!

Then where shall the flush and the fair
Find refuge? Ah, Echo says, “Where?”
There are dentists in Madison Square,
The boarding-house, too, appears there,
And I’ve heard,
In a word,
That some kind of factory, or mill
Was soon to disturb MURRAY HILL!
Now if fashion must be
(And it seems so, to me)
Crowded upward each year,
I very much fear
They’ll be shoved—and the thought makes me shiver—
Off the Island and into the river!
And crying,
“Eheu! Eheu! Eheu!
There’s a Tailor in FIFTH AVENUE!”

“To Maisie” by Alexander Robertson

To Maisie
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

You entered a “delightful room”
While R. A. still was there,
And you were flushed though you are dark
And light fell on your hair.

The light that falls ere evening comes
Dark-robed from o’er the sea,
The light that falls from heavens clear
Beyond the apple-tree.

And you had snowdrops in your hand,
The sunlight fell on them,—
As once it fell when yet they grew
Grouped like a diadem.

And from your cluster some you took
And placed them on her breast:—
All this I know, imagine not,—
So think how you are blessed.

“On Guard” by Alexander Robertson

On Guard
Alexander Robertson
From Last Poems of Alexander Robertson, 1918

Midnight, 30th September, 1915
Hurdcott Camp, Salisbury

Look, ’tis a falling star: someone dead.
Know you not who it is? Short-lived Summer.
“Well may it be your last,” Weakness said.
“Welcome the Winter,” Strength, “the grey new-comer.”

“You may die ere he dies.” “Well, what then?
You must despise the twain, behind him cowered,—
Death and Agony wild: and die as men
Die in a holy cause, with peace dowered.”