But Whitman, loafing in Long Island and
Found there the sustenance of mighty ode and psalm,
And while his rude emotions swam around in verse, he
Fed chiefly on the wild, impassioned, sea-born clam.
Thus in his work we feel the waves’
And winds from mighty mud-flats, weird and wild:
His clam-filled bosom answered to the voice of ocean,
And rose and fell responsively with every tide.
IL MERCATORE ITALIANO DELLA CLAMMA
For the Century Magazine
“Clam O! Fres’ Clam!”
How strange it sounds and sweet,
The Dago’s cry along the New York street!
“Dago” we call him, like the thoughtless crowd;
And yet this humble man may well be proud
To hail from Petrarch’s land, Boccaccio’s home,—
Firenze, Gubbio, Venezia, Rome,—
From fair Italia, whose enchanted soil
Transforms the lowly cotton-seed to olive-oil.
To me his chant, with alien accent sung,
Brings back an echo of great Virgil’s tongue:
It seems to cry against the city’s woe,
In liquid Latin syllables,—Clamo!
As thro’ the crowded street his cart he jams
And cries aloud, ah, think of more than clams!
Receive his secret plaint with pity warm,
And grant Italia’s plea for Tenement-House Reform!
THE SOCIAL CLAM
For the Smart Set
Fair Phyllis is another’s bride:
Therefore I like to sit beside
Her at a very smart set dinner,
And whisper love, and try to win her.
The little-necks,—in number
That from their pearly shells she picks
And swallows whole,—ah, is it selfish
To wish my heart among those shell-fish?
“But Phyllis is another’s
And if she should absorb thy life
’Twould leave thy bosom vacant.”—Well,
I’d keep at least the empty shell!
THE RECREANT CLAM
For the Outlook
Low dost thou lie amid the languid ooze,
Because thy slothful spirit doth refuse
The bliss of battle and the strain of strife.
Rise, craven clam, and lead the strenuous life!
For the Mark Twain Dinner, December 5, 1905
Some three-score years and
A prince was born at Florida, Mo.;
And though he came incognito,
With just the usual yells of woe,
The watchful fairies seemed to know
Precisely what the row meant;
For when he was but five days old,
(December fifth as I’ve been told,)
They pattered through the midnight cold,
And came around his crib, to hold
A “Council of Endowment.”