And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world.
As Nick examines his surroundings, he sees the human influence, the houses, as inessential parts of the vast landscape of the “old island” (Long Island). For the original settlers, the “green breast of the new world”—which picks up on the traditional, eroticized concept of “virgin land”—is the promise of a future full of exciting possibilities. For Nick, however, the land is a symbol for those who have succeeded and claimed the land, destroying the promise of a fruitful future for others.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit “The Great Gatsby (Chapter IX)” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box