Spuyten Duyvil Poem

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1877

Fishing thorough old newspapers I recently came acrosss a beautiful poem published by the New York Sun in 1910. The work, titled “Spuyten Duyvil on the Crick,” was penned by Irish-American poet Eugene Geary. I’ve paired Geary’s poem with another 1910 work by impressionist painter Ernest Lawson, who, like so many other artists, found himself inspired and enamored by the glimmering channel at the top of Manhattan Isle.

"Shadows: Spuyten Duyvil Hill," painting by Ernest Lawson, 1910.
“Shadows: Spuyten Duyvil Hill,” painting by Ernest Lawson, 1910.

Spuyten Duyvil on the Crick
By Eugene Geary

Where the Harlem takes its peaceful way to join
the old Hudson’s tide
And the waters sweetly ripple like the simper of
a bride
Summer now lends her fragrance; there’s a
harmony serene
‘Mong the hills and vales upholstered in Dame
Nature’s brightest green.
‘Tis the tall end of Manhattan, but in all the bailiwick
There’s no place like Spuyten-Duyvil—Spuyten
Duyvil-on-the-Crick.

Oh,‘tis pleasant from the bridge to view the
panorama spread
Where the motor cars are whirling and the
Subway’s overhead;
Underneath the youthful oarsmen, bending to
pliant blade,
Cut the waters with precision in their coats of tan
arrayed.
There is grace in every movement, they know how
to turn the trick,
They are home in Spuyten Duyvil—Spuyten
Duyvil-on-the-Crick.

See the anglers deftly winding or unwinding
fishing reels
In the laudable ambition to bring home a mess
of eels.
With the patience of old Isaac they will sit from
morn till night
Though a dreary interregnum’s oft between each
bite and bite.
And what though their method’s ancient, still
they think it mighty slick.
They were born in Spuyten Duyvil—Spuyten
Duyvil-on-the-Crick.

Now the rubber necking steamboat comes chug
chugging on its way.
And the local diamond heroes wither ‘neath the
umpire’s sway;
Homeward slowly walk the cows before the
whistling rustic swain
And Dan Cupid’s working overtime in blissful
Lover’s Lane.
Well, Manhattan is a big place, but in all
the bailiwick
There’s no place like Spuyten Duyvil—Spuyten
Duyvil-on-the-Crick.

About the poet:
According to the Journal American Irish Historical Society, Eugene Geary “was born in Kildorrery, Cork, Ireland, in 1862…Mr. Geary came to New York in his early youth with his mother and family. His first poems were published in the Celtic Magazine. Soon his verse was welcomed by the Sun and other New York papers. For years he contributed to Puck and Judge and the best magazines. As a literary critic, some of his best work was seen in the New York Times Review of Books, to which he was one of the earliest contributors. Few phases of newspaper work perplexed him. Laughing he would say that he could negotiate any angle of the business save the stock and financial departments.”

Geary, 53, died on December 11, 1914 in New York City after a bout with pneumonia.

Spuyten Duyvil photo from 1915 shot by William Davis Hassler (MCNY).
Spuyten Duyvil photo from 1915 shot by William Davis Hassler (MCNY).

 

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