From the Digital Collections: “The Future of Seattle” Robert Legg

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve been posting some of our favorite poems from our collections here at the Issaquah History Museums.

This poem by Robert Legg entitled “The Future of Seattle/As a Commercial City, Her People, and Tributaries” was first published in 1893. The poem is a long praise of Seattle and it’s surroundings. Robert Legg was an early resident of Issaquah, settling in the area around 1890, and father to infamous Issaquah “outlaw” Ben Legg. Learn more about the Legg family here. See more records related to Robert Legg and family here at our digital collections.

Robert Legg’s Poem, ca 1893
Full Record
The Future of Seattle
by Robert Legg
Like the Phoenix of Asia old,
Where emerge from ashes cold
            A God more brilliant than before –
            Seattle has done on the Puget shore,
Where the rude wigwam and smoke curled
Now mansions stand that equal the world.
            And while a panic swept o’er the land,
            Your banks are true and firmly stand –
And to their credit, be it said,
They are as sound as a pyramid.
            But now the crisis you all feel;
            You keep your shoulder to the wheel,
And with each other do not frown;
You bore the cross, but now the crown,
            And no longer fear a sad disaster,
            Since you control the key to Alaska.
Now ships glide in with precious freight
From the golden fields of the Klondike.
            Railroad centres will to you roll,
            As the compass centres on the pole.

All in your duty take a pride,
Knowing the Sound excels the Clyde,
            And that commerce will to you flow –
            Seattle soon excel Glasgow–
And to other ports bid farewell
When finished the Sound canal.
            Backed by a resource to furnish supplies,
            All other competition it defies.
The earth is pregnant with untold worth.
Waiting the time to give birth
            Of minerals vast that stand the test.
            Our valleys fertile, yea the best;
The climate lovely to adore –
Italians prefer it to Naples’ shore;
            Here nature smiles in her charms
            On native groves and fruitful farms,
With forest great, surpassed by none
From the Arctic to the Torrid Zone,
            With powerful lofty water falls
            That will answer any calls –
Here is a bonanza for the wise
With but the means it to utilize.
            Possessed with as fine lakes
            As God or nature ever makes,
Abounding with as good fish
As mortal men could ever wish.
            The city built on the model plan,
            By art and skill of modern man,
With many things I could mention,
All of the very best invention,
            Search the universe around
            And your equal can’t be found.
For schools and art you do not lack,
For your talent speaks for that;
            For when with age and business pressed,
            Your mind or body  needs a rest,
You restort to common sense –
Stay at home and save expense –
            For sights to see you need not roam,
            For you have nature’s parks at home;
Then you retire to your arbor
And view the yachting in the harbor.
            Where around green isles water flow,
            That excels the Grecian Archipelago;
Or watch the sun ascend the Cascades
Till o’er the Olympics when it fades,
            And admire surrounding scenes –
            Your mountains white and evergreen;
Where at their base there lovely bowers,
And balmy breeze with fragrant flowers,
            And springs as pure as condensed steam –
            Almost a vacuum do they seem.
It’s here where tourists do stray
Loitering their rapturous time away.
            But of all scenes sublime and grand,
            Rainier like a Roman sentinel stands,
With crystal helmet on her brow –
His coat of mail ever snow,
            Where the fissures ever blow,
            Where the cataracts ever flow,
Where the glaciers settle down –
All within sight of Seattle Town.
            Are these the works of a Creator
            Or by chance Mother nature?

Issaquah, King County, Wash.

First published 1893