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The Old Lowe House, Staten Island
By: Alan Seeger


Another prospect pleased the builder's eye,
And Fashion tenanted (where Fashion wanes)
Here in the sorrowful suburban lanes
When first these gables rose against the sky.
Relic of a romantic taste gone by,
This stately monument alone remains,
Vacant, with lichened walls and window-panes
Blank as the windows of a skull. But I,
On evenings when autumnal winds have stirred
In the porch-vines, to this gray oracle
Have laid a wondering ear and oft-times heard,
As from the hollow of a stranded shell,
Old voices echoing (or my fancy erred)
Things indistinct, but not insensible.


...Alan Seeger was born in New York on June 22nd, 1888.

Alan Seegers father and mother belonged to old New England families.

When he was a year old his parents removed to Staten Island,
which forms, as it were, the stopper to the bottle of New York harbour. There he remained until his tenth year, growing up along with a brother and a sister, the one a little older, the other a little younger, than himself. From their home on the heights of Staten Island,the children looked out day by day upon one of the most romantic scenes in the world -- the gateway to the Western Hemisphere.

They could see the great steamships of all the nations
threading their way through the Narrows and passing in procession up the glorious expanse of New York Bay, to which the incessant local traffic of tug-boats, river steamers and huge steam-ferries lent an ever-shifting animation. In the foreground lay Robbins Reef Lighthouse, in the middle distance the Statue of Liberty, in the background the giant curves of Brooklyn Bridge, and, range over range, the mountainous buildings of "down town" New York -- not then as colossal as they are today, but already unlike anything else under the sun. And the incoming stream of tramps and liners met the outgoing stream which carried the imagination seaward, to the islands of the buccaneers, and the haunts of all the heroes and villains of history, in the Old World.

The children did not look with incurious eyes upon this stirring scene. They knew the names of all the great European liners and of the warships passing to and from the Navy Yard; and the walls of their nursery were covered with their drawings of the shipping, rude enough, no doubt,but showing accurate observation of such details as funnels,
masts and rigging. They were of an age, before they left Staten Island, to realize something of the historic implications of their environment.

In 1898 the family returned to New York, and there Alan continued at the Horace Mann School the education begun at the Staten Island Academy. The great delight of the ten-year-old schoolboy was to follow the rushing fire-engines which were an almost daily feature in the life of the New York streets. Even in manhood he could never resist the lure of the fire-alarm...

A Bit More Abour Alan Seeger



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