The Dream-Shops of Fifth Avenue

The Dream-Shops of Fifth Avenue  (1920) 
by Richard Le Gallienne

From Harper's Magazine, June 1920



OFF the main majestic stream.
Like a river made of flowers—
Women's faces, women's faces,
Flowing hy the soaring towers;
With a golden murmur vast
Of their delicate sweet walking,
And their tongues a-talking—talking.
As they trip and ripple past,
Lilied throats and eyes agleam—
Hide the little shops of dream.

Here the Persian carpets spread
For the quiet dreamer's tread.
And the turbaned caravan
Journeys on from Ispahan;
Then a Buddha lost in prayer,
Here a print from old Japan;
Demon masks and twisted swords
Of Nippon's dread and mighty lords.
Ivory goblins of Cathay,
Carven shapes grotesquely fair,
Squat and grin, obscenely gay;
Little beings made of jade
Lurk within the incensed shade.
Where the cedarn coffers hold
Silks of nameless blue and gold.
Smelling sweet of gardens old.

Here the quiet potter's mart,
Cool and still with shapes of clay.
Breathed on by his gentle art:
So he dreamed his mortal day.
Living on in vase and jar.
Lovely still as flower or star.

Here another dream more bold
From the marble hills of Greece
Quarried out these limbs of gold.
This smile of an immortal peace.
Calm as 'neath their skies of blue.
Fronting the Ægean Sea,
They look out on Fifth Avenue,
Insolent in divinity:
How the poor laughing moment dies
Watched by those immortal eyes!

Here a dream all made of wings—
From marble gods to butterflies!
Those mimic tapestries of air
Painted the mountains of Tibet,
And these beside the Amazon
Flaunted their proud vermilion;
These, spanning scarce your finger-nail,
Down Africa made tiny sail.

Torrid orchards 'neath the Line
Here their mystic fruits have sent,
Armored rind of scale and spine.
Half fruit, half savage ornament.
And flowers that seem to hiss and sting
Their sorceries of colors fling.

Other dream-lands beckon fair:
Old France, in this sedan-chair.
Wafts us sadly to Versailles,
With a little perfumed sigh;
Here a silver teapot's gleam
Brings old London in a dream;
With knightly casque and feudal oak
Troop in Chaucer and his folk;
Nor is there need the seas to span
To find your Château en Espagne.

For here along Fifth Avenue
All the dream-lands wait for you.
Little shops for every dream
Dotting the majestic stream.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1947, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.