The Hidden City by C.J. Dennis

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It was the schooner Desperate
   That sailed the southern sea,
And the skipper had brought his little daughter
   To our centenary.
Blue were her eyes and plucked her brow,
   Where she wore a golden curl.
Yet, 'spite her looks, she was somehow
   A shrewd, observant girl.

But and spake an old sailor
   Who had been that way before --
"I pray don't land at yonder port
   Lest your girl count it a bore.
Last year the town had a handsome street,
   This year no street we see."
"Why?" asked the skipper.  "Poles," said the tar.
   And a sneering laugh laughed he.

For an alderman had spoken,
   Who had known the ropes long since,
And he said, "Where are them sticks an' rag
   We had for that other Prince.
Let's stick 'em up in the street again."
   Said the mayor, "Don't be a quince.
We'll have some new bright painted ones;
   And let the aesthetes wince."

"Father," the skipper's daughter cried
   "No fair city I see."
"It is behind them decorations, lass --
   Them candy sticks you see."
"But, father, why do they stand there,
   All orange smeared and red,
Like garish clowns in a stately street?"
   "Search me," the skipper said.

"Oh, father!  What are those nightmare things,
   Those gadgets brightly lit?
Let us away on urgent wings,
   Or I fear I'll have a fit."
"Courage, my child," the skipper said.
   Curb your aesthetic sense,
And close your eyes and cover your head,
   And I shall bear you hence.

"Come hither, come hither, my little daughter,
   And do not tremble so."
He wrapped her up in his seaman's coat.
   "Come," said he, "let us go
Out where no poles or pylons are,
   And no centenary,
To a scene that no man's hand may mar."
   And he steered for the open sea.

First published in The Herald, 6 September 1934

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 6, 2013 7:25 AM.

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