How, for instance, can the ways of such a continent be as inimical as these critics hint to the nobler motions of the soul when a man can wake up as I have done on many a Sunday morning in the most flagrant of all American cities, New York itself, and listen to the silence in the cool-blowing Summer air, while the wind rustles the ailanthus leaves at the window, lifting them up and letting them fall like undulating seaweed in a vast green rock-pool?
The ailanthus is my tree. Her buds are jets
Of greenish fire that float upon the air.
They set my feet upon a Fosse-way, where
Old mills turn mossy wheels and wide sunsets
Redden the outstretched wings the heron wets
In old ponds that the day and darkness share.
Candles they are, that on a wayside bare
Re-gather what the human heart forgets.
Green lamps they are, whose life-sap sweet and strong
Brims from most brittle and most tender wood.
They leave their dusty branches. They float over
The houses and the roofs, a wild-goose throng.
High up they fly, a thin, free multitude,
Leaving their earth, their roots, their twigs, their lover!
John Cowper Powys
Patchin Place, New York, Feb. 1926
Greenwich Village, like Chelsea in London and like the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris, resembles God, in that it is a circle whose circumference diminishes and increases according to human volition! But Patchin Place is unquestionably near its center; and in Patchin Place - where it was my good luck to live for five years - I met some of the most interesting and singular human beings I have ever known. May the mysterious Tao of the great-little Kwang-Tze, then, as still, my chosen household god, hover, with the waving of those ailanthus boughs - his own favorite branches because of their Taoistic freedom from self-assertion - forever over that room and over him who inhabits it and over all those who shall enter into it! (Farewell to America )