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The Little-Neck Clam
by [?]

A modern verse-sequence, showing how a native American subject, strictly realistic, may be treated in various manners adapted to the requirements of different magazines, thus combining Art-for-Art’s-Sake with Writing-for-the-Market. Read at the First Dinner of the American Periodical Publishers’ Association, in Washington, April, 1904.



For McClure’s Magazine

The clam that once, on Jersey’s banks,
Was like the man who dug it, free,
Now slave-like thro’ the market clanks
In chains of corporate tyranny.

The Standard Fish-Trust of New York
Holds every clam-bank in control;
And like base Beef and menial Pork,
The free-born Clam has lost its soul.

No more the bivalve treads the sands
In freedom’s rapture, free from guilt:
It follows now the harsh commands
Of Morgiman and Rockabilt.

Rise, freemen, rise! Your wrath is just!
Call on the Sherman Act to dam
The floods of this devouring Trust,
And liberate the fettered Clam.



For the Bookman

Not Dante when he wandered by the river Arno,
Not Burns who plowed the banks and braes of bonnie Ayr,
Not even Shakspere on the shores of Avon,–ah, no!
Not one of those great bards did taste true Poet’s Fare.

But Whitman, loafing in Long Island and New Jersey,
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’ bewildering motion,
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.



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!



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 six,–
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 wife;
And if she should absorb thy life
‘Twould leave thy bosom vacant.”–Well,
I’d keep at least the empty shell!



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!