Ay! gloriously thou standest there,
Beautiful, boundless firmament!
That swelling wide o'er earth and air,
And round the horizon bent,
With thy bright vault, and sapphire wall,
Dost overhang and circle all.
Far, far below thee, tall old trees
Arise, and piles built up of old,
And hills, whose ancient summits freeze,
In the fierce light and cold.
The eagle soars his utmost height,
Yet far thou stretchest o'er his flight.
Thou hast thy frowns--with thee on high,
The storm has made his airy seat,
Beyond that soft blue curtain lie
His stores of hail and sleet.
Thence the consuming lightnings break.
There the strong hurricanes awake.
Yet art thou prodigal of smiles--
Smiles, sweeter than thy frowns are stem:
Earth sends, from all her thousand isles,
A shout at thy return.
The glory that comes down from thee,
Bathes, in deep joy, the land and sea.
The sun, the gorgeous sun, is thine,
The pomp that brings and shuts the day,
The clouds that round him change and shine,
The airs that fan his way.
Thence look the thoughtful stars, and there
The meek moon walks the silent air.
The sunny Italy may boast
The beauteous tints that flush her skies.
And lovely, round the Grecian coast,
May thy blue pillars rise.
I only know how fair they stand,
Around my own beloved land.
And they are fair--a charm is theirs,
That earth, the proud green earth, has not--
With all the forms, and hues, and airs,
That haunt her sweetest spot.
We gaze upon thy calm pure sphere,
And read of Heaven's eternal year.
Oh, when, amid the throng of men,
The heart grows sick of hollow mirth,
How willingly we turn us then
Away from this cold earth,
And look into thy azure breast,
For seats of innocence and rest.
Top William Cullen Bryant Poems