Nov. 26, 2001: TOWERS OF MANHATTAN

Dear Readers,

Check out this oddity. I was reading back issues of Esquire Magazine
while at work the other day. I guess I should say back, back, back
issues...we're talking mid to late 1930's. Did you know that Esquire
used
to have prominent writers work for them? Each issue contained reviews,
new
stories, op-ed, etc. But also several short stories by the likes of
Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Dos Passos, and at least one
"serious" poem.

I am seeking serious feedback on the one below, because I am not sure
what
the "towers" are, nor am I sure of the speaker's point-of-view. But I
do
know this: though the poem was printed in the
April 1936 issue, it's dang weird to read it today. You might be
interested to know that its author, Richard Aldington (A dildo-grinch
rant), was the husband to one Hilda Doolittle--whom we've known in
these
pages as "H.D." I hope you enjoy this poem as much as you did your
Thanksgiving weekend, i.e., very much!

TOWERS OF MANHATTAN

I knew that American emigre--
Once there was something to him.
Now he is a middle-aged sophomore
Bawling out the ghosts of dead profs.
Shifts on his hunkers in a gondolier's tenement
And writes "American Notes"
From last month's TIMES and LEDGER...

Towers of Manhattan!
America is not static,
America is incommeasurable;
It is a dream only half-true,
It is energy almost pointless
Asking itself impatiently "Whither next?"
It is comfort discouraged about being comfortable,
It is Mesozoic and crashingly up-to-date,
It is forty thousand phrases and wise-cracks,
But it is not the "American" note of emigres.

Towers of Manhattan!
I the stranger, the alien, the hereditary enemy,
Coming to you with suspicion and a little fear,
I can at least feel sure of this:
Your emigres are those without courage
Who could not face your hard dynamics,
Dared not attempt your roaring whirlpool,
Pioneers of funk and failure.

Towers of Manhattan!
In a way I am sorry I walk among you
A stranger, and yet I am glad
Not to be a son of your large and noisy house.
Home of many wanderers,
You are no home for me.

I have glimpsed your girls, your Jews, your Negroes--
Strange juggleries of alien chromosomes--
Your luxuries and squalors,
Your red and gold neon signs,
The vistas of your ravines;
Sensed the baseness, the bunk, the greed...

Yet, in the evening,
Looking back from the long bridges--
Towers of Manhattan!
Why so wistful, why so uncertain
In the cool blue haze,
Why so ashamed of the new visible body
Uttering a strange new soul?
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