Aesthetic Realism Looks at New York City: Poetry



Eli Siegel


And There Prevail

Brooklyn the gorgeous,
The southern Nineveh,
Where once on fields near an ocean not to be named now, prowlers,        aborigines (Mr. Peckham) went about; and later not one of
       these got into learned books many of them now in Brooklyn
       by the Sound.
How few, few persons, prowling or others, get, feet, spirit and all,
       into books; take the form, they, these feeling objects, of print
       now neatly reposing in the learned hush of cities.
Dissoluteness is in Brooklyn and how few, few depraved people
        are remembered.
Brooklyn has all of Nineveh's sins, otherwise in the disposition by        existence of sins and sin-having powers, there would be a
       Frightful, Cavernous, not-to-be dreamed of thing in logic
       (Miss Welsham perhaps talking).
It was logic Asshur-bani-pal used in the smiting and smiting of his        Oriental foes, and the putting to great, various pains of his
       smitten, living foes.
Beings in Brooklyn have thought of Nineveh, and seemingly in a
       fashion, Nineveh knows not of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn doesn't know everything in altogether free depravity and        knavery, but no place near or far from ocean does.
How is it that of a hushed afternoon a man may drowse in
       Brooklyn with his elbow near the name Palmyra.
It may be that Nineveh is talked of by a person with his mouth
       somewhat full of some vegetation favored by tall, river-
       running-about American aborigines.
Brooklyn, dear, you rest somewhere around anonymous Assyrians
       and could-be-named American-born Indians.
I say you are gorgeous; your temples magnificently send their
       sleepily terrifying smoke to Eastern skies.
Though trolleys reach you with mothers who know hatpins,
       family-bibles and America of some years ago, you are no less
       Nineveh than Nineveh is.
I could say Nineveh is in those family-bibles had by much-weighing
       ladies who have curves and straight lines and curves rather
       far apart.
Fatness, O Brooklyn, is just as much Assyrian, just as much
       Eastern, of the East with chariots and wide swords.
I can imagine aged goers-about in Nineveh, drowsing, looking at        something, becoming confused, and thinking of something
       nearer Brooklyn than Orenotep is.
Burnish, O Brooklyn, the chariots of iron that have horses go
       before them off to battle having much iron.
Flash, Brooklyn, with all your Eastern towers by the Sound.
Have, Brooklyn, the pains of not-daringness the way Nineveh has.
Mist, Brooklyn, comes to sin, and soils and embellishes your
       many-windowed, exotic edifices.
Allar-hata-pan, great, cruel man of war, is a Brooklyn man, though
       not born there.
Fidget at peace, Brooklyn, and wish for times when spears go
       deeply into the cunning withinnesses of beings.
Eighty thousand voices, well-timed, say, greatly, Brooklyn is gorgeous.
Gorgeous and sad, O Nineveh.
Gorgeous and many, O Nineveh.
Dissolution's in thee, Brooklyn, and the ocean and streams by you
       run with the blood of the slain and sick.
Hours are everything.
Boom, O chariots,
And to Brooklyn go
And there prevail.

From Hail, American Development (Definition Press)
© 1968 by Eli Siegel