…”Commerce, are you worth all this?”
Charleston South Carolina. A poem by Amy Lowell, 1874-1925
Fifteen years is not a long time,
But long enough to build a city over and destroy it.
Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass from between cobblestones,
And run street-car lines straight across the heart of romance.
Commerce, are you worth all this? I should like to bring this case to trial:
Prosperity versus Beauty,
Cash Registers teetering in a balance against the comfort of the soul.
Then, to-night, I stood looking through a grilled gate
At an old, dark garden.
Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the wall,
Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell of their blossoms
Puffed intermittenly through the wrought-iron scroll-work.
Challenge and solution —
O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!
Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,
Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.
“You should come at dawn,” said my friend,
“And see the orioles, and thrushes, and mockingbirds in the garden.”
“Yes,” I said absentmindedly,
And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand
which rested against the wall.
But I thought to myself,
There is no dawn here, only sunset,
And an evening rain scented with flowers.
– from Literary Charleston, A Lowcountry Reader
Curtis Worthington, 1996, Wyrick & Company, Charleston