By Joe Goodman
In youth, when I did love, did love,-- Joe Goodman
(To quote the Sexton's homely ditty)
I lived six thousand feet above
Sea level, in Virginia City.
The site was bleak, the houses small
The narrow streets unpaved and slanting,
But now it seems to me of all
The spots on earth the most enchanting.
Let art with all its cunning strive,
Let nature lavish all her splendor,
One touch of sentiment will give
A charm more beautiful and tender;
And so that town howe'er uncouth
To others who have chanced to go there
Enshrines the ashes of my youth,
And there is Fairyland -- or nowhere.
Who tends its marts, who treads its ways
Are mysteries beyond my guessing,
To me the forms of other days
Are still about its centers pressing;
I know that loving lips are cold
And true hearts still -- ah! more's the pity,
But in my fancy they yet hold
Their empire in Virginia City.
Unhallowed flames have swept away
The structures in which I delighted,
The streets are grass-grown and decay
Has left the sunny slopes benighted.
But not to me, -- to my dim sight
The town is always like the olden,
As to the captive Israelite,
Shown aye Jerusalem the golden.
I would not care to see it now,
I choose to know it as I then did,
With glorious light upon its brow,
And all its features bright and splendid;
Nor would I like that it should see
Me, gray and stooped, a mark for pity,
And learn that time has dealt with me
As hard as with -- Virginia City.
Submitted by: Rich Pitter, Brookline, MA
Sent: Wednesday, February 16, 2000
Subject: Joe Goodman poetry - Virginia City
Awhile back I mentioned that a poem about the stagecoach driver on Geiger Grade, which you attributed to Bret Harte, was actually written by Joe Goodman, editor of your esteemed Territorial Enterprise.
My recent siftings have uncovered another poem by Joe Goodman, written in his final years, when he was in Utah. The poem provides a look backwards at the Comstock silver era. I mention this because the poem plucks the strings of one's heart with its wistful melancholy. It applies today even as it did when Goodman wrote it, probably after 1900, and as it did in the 1860s and 1870s. Perhaps you would like to use it.
THANKS for the Joe Goodman poem. I printed it in the TE about ten or twelve years ago, and wanted to put it on the TE Foundation website, but couldn't find a copy anywhere! And today it just magically appears! Great. I'll send your post to our webmistress, and I'll double check to make sure we have made the changes in the article which you mentioned.
Sincerely, Tom Muzzio VCTE
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