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Best Famous William Cullen Bryant Poems

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Written by William Cullen Bryant |

November

 The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
And, if the sun looks through, 'tis with a face
Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon,
When done the journey of her nightly race,
Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place.
For days the shepherds in the fields may be, Nor mark a patch of sky— blindfold they trace, The plains, that seem without a bush or tree, Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.
The timid hare seems half its fears to lose, Crouching and sleeping 'neath its grassy lair, And scarcely startles, tho' the shepherd goes Close by its home, and dogs are barking there; The wild colt only turns around to stare At passer by, then knaps his hide again; And moody crows beside the road forbear To fly, tho' pelted by the passing swain; Thus day seems turn'd to night, and tries to wake in vain.
The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon, And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light; The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon, And small birds chirp and startle with affright; Much doth it scare the superstitious wight, Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay; While cow-boys think the day a dream of night, And oft grow fearful on their lonely way, Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.
Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings Its murky prison round— then winds wake loud; With sudden stir the startled forest sings Winter's returning song— cloud races cloud, And the horizon throws away its shroud, Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye; Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd, And o'er the sameness of the purple sky Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.
At length it comes along the forest oaks, With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high; The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks, And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly, While the blue hawk hangs o'er them in the sky.
— The hedger hastens from the storm begun, To seek a shelter that may keep him dry; And foresters low bent, the wind to shun, Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher's muttering gun.
The ploughman hears its humming rage begin, And hies for shelter from his naked toil; Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin, He bends and scampers o'er the elting soil, While clouds above him in wild fury boil, And winds drive heavily the beating rain; He turns his back to catch his breath awhile, Then ekes his speed and faces it again, To seek the shepherd's hut beside the rushy plain.
The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat The melancholy crow—in hurry weaves, Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat, Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves, Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves.
There he doth dithering sit, and entertain His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves; Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta'en, And wishing in his heart 'twas summer-time again.
Thus wears the month along, in checker'd moods, Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms; One hour dies silent o'er the sleepy woods, The next wakes loud with unexpected storms; A dreary nakedness the field deforms— Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight, Lives in the village still about the farms, Where toil's rude uproar hums from morn till night Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight.
At length the stir of rural labour's still, And Industry her care awhile forgoes; When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil His yearly task, at bleak November's close, And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows; When frost locks up the stream in chill delay, And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes, For little birds—then Toil hath time for play, And nought but threshers' flails awake the dreary day.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

A Forest Hymn

The groves were God's first temples.
Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them,---ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication.
For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences, Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty.
Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs, That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn---thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof.
Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees.
They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze, And shot towards heaven.
The century-living crow, Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker.
These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride Report not.
No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works.
But thou art here---thou fill'st The solitude.
Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;---Nature, here, In the tranquility that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence.
Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs, Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness, in these shades, Of thy perfections.
Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee.
This mighty oak--- By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated---not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as lofty as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him.
Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun.
That delicate forest flower With scented breath, and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, An emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this wide universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me---the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever.
Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die---but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses----ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms.
These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them.
Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie.
Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch enemy Death---yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne---the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment.
For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;---and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue.
Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still.
Oh, God! when thou Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the village; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities---who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them.
Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of the works Learn to conform the order of our lives.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

Hymn To Death

 Oh! could I hope the wise and pure in heart
Might hear my song without a frown, nor deem
My voice unworthy of the theme it tries,--
I would take up the hymn to Death, and say
To the grim power, The world hath slandered thee
And mocked thee.
On thy dim and shadowy brow They place an iron crown, and call thee king Of terrors, and the spoiler of the world, Deadly assassin, that strik'st down the fair, The loved, the good--that breath'st upon the lights Of virtue set along the vale of life, And they go out in darkness.
I am come, Not with reproaches, not with cries and prayers, Such as have stormed thy stern insensible ear From the beginning.
I am come to speak Thy praises.
True it is, that I have wept Thy conquests, and may weep them yet again: And thou from some I love wilt take a life Dear to me as my own.
Yet while the spell Is on my spirit, and I talk with thee In sight of all thy trophies, face to face, Meet is it that my voice should utter forth Thy nobler triumphs: I will teach the world To thank thee.
--Who are thine accusers?--Who? The living!--they who never felt thy power, And know thee not.
The curses of the wretch Whose crimes are ripe, his sufferings when thy hand Is on him, and the hour he dreads is come, Are writ among thy praises.
But the good-- Does he whom thy kind hand dismissed to peace, Upbraid the gentle violence that took off His fetters, and unbarred his prison cell? Raise then the Hymn to Death.
Deliverer! God hath anointed thee to free the oppressed And crush the oppressor.
When the armed chief, The conqueror of nations, walks the world, And it is changed beneath his feet, and all Its kingdoms melt into one mighty realm-- Thou, while his head is loftiest, and his heart Blasphemes, imagining his own right hand Almighty, sett'st upon him thy stern grasp, And the strong links of that tremendous chain That bound mankind are crumbled; thou dost break Sceptre and crown, and beat his throne to dust.
Then the earth shouts with gladness, and her tribes Gather within their ancient bounds again.
Else had the mighty of the olden time, Nimrod, Sesostris, or the youth who feigned His birth from Lybian Ammon, smote even now The nations with a rod of iron, and driven Their chariot o'er our necks.
Thou dost avenge, In thy good time, the wrongs of those who know No other friend.
Nor dost thou interpose Only to lay the sufferer asleep, Where he who made him wretched troubles not His rest--thou dost strike down his tyrant too.
Oh, there is joy when hands that held the scourge Drop lifeless, and the pitiless heart is cold.
Thou too dost purge from earth its horrible And old idolatries; from the proud fanes Each to his grave their priests go out, till none Is left to teach their worship; then the fires Of sacrifice are chilled, and the green moss O'ercreeps their altars; the fallen images Cumber the weedy courts, and for loud hymns, Chanted by kneeling crowds, the chiding winds Shriek in the solitary aisles.
When he Who gives his life to guilt, and laughs at all The laws that God or man has made, and round Hedges his seat with power, and shines in wealth,-- Lifts up his atheist front to scoff at Heaven, And celebrates his shame in open day, Thou, in the pride of all his crimes, cutt'st off The horrible example.
Touched by thine, The extortioner's hard hand foregoes the gold Wrong from the o'er-worn poor.
The perjurer, Whose tongue was lithe, e'en now, and voluble Against his neighbour's life, and he who laughed And leaped for joy to see a spotless fame Blasted before his own foul calumnies, Are smit with deadly silence.
He, who sold His conscience to preserve a worthless life, Even while he hugs himself on his escape, Trembles, as, doubly terrible, at length, Thy steps o'ertake him, and there is no time For parley--nor will bribes unclench thy grasp.
Oft, too, dost thou reform thy victim, long Ere his last hour.
And when the reveller, Mad in the chase of pleasure, stretches on, And strains each nerve, and clears the path of life Like wind, thou point'st him to the dreadful goal, And shak'st thy hour-glass in his reeling eye, And check'st him in mid course.
Thy skeleton hand Shows to the faint of spirit the right path, And he is warned, and fears to step aside.
Thou sett'st between the ruffian and his crime Thy ghastly countenance, and his slack hand Drops the drawn knife.
But, oh, most fearfully Dost thou show forth Heaven's justice, when thy shafts Drink up the ebbing spirit--then the hard Of heart and violent of hand restores The treasure to the friendless wretch he wronged.
Then from the writhing bosom thou dost pluck The guilty secret; lips, for ages sealed, Are faithless to the dreadful trust at length, And give it up; the felon's latest breath Absolves the innocent man who bears his crime; The slanderer, horror smitten, and in tears, Recalls the deadly obloquy he forged To work his brother's ruin.
Thou dost make Thy penitent victim utter to the air The dark conspiracy that strikes at life, And aims to whelm the laws; ere yet the hour Is come, and the dread sign of murder given.
Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found On virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee, Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth Had crushed the weak for ever.
Schooled in guile For ages, while each passing year had brought Its baneful lesson, they had filled the world With their abominations; while its tribes, Trodden to earth, imbruted, and despoiled, Had knelt to them in worship; sacrifice Had smoked on many an altar, temple roofs Had echoed with the blasphemous prayer and hymn: But thou, the great reformer of the world, Tak'st off the sons of violence and fraud In their green pupilage, their lore half learned-- Ere guilt has quite o'errun the simple heart God gave them at their birth, and blotted out His image.
Thou dost mark them, flushed with hope, As on the threshold of their vast designs Doubtful and loose they stand, and strik'st them down.
Alas, I little thought that the stern power Whose fearful praise I sung, would try me thus Before the strain was ended.
It must cease-- For he is in his grave who taught my youth The art of verse, and in the bud of life Offered me to the muses.
Oh, cut off Untimely! when thy reason in its strength, Ripened by years of toil and studious search And watch of Nature's silent lessons, taught Thy hand to practise best the lenient art To which thou gavest thy laborious days.
And, last, thy life.
And, therefore, when the earth Received thee, tears were in unyielding eyes And on hard cheeks, and they who deemed thy skill Delayed their death-hour, shuddered and turned pale When thou wert gone.
This faltering verse, which thou Shalt not, as wont, o'erlook, is all I have To offer at thy grave--this--and the hope To copy thy example, and to leave A name of which the wretched shall not think As of an enemy's, whom they forgive As all forgive the dead.
Rest, therefore, thou Whose early guidance trained my infant steps-- Rest, in the bosom of God, till the brief sleep Of death is over, and a happier life Shall dawn to waken thine insensible dust.
Now thou art not--and yet the men whose guilt Has wearied Heaven for vengeance--he who bears False witness--he who takes the orphan's bread, And robs the widow--he who spreads abroad Polluted hands in mockery of prayer, Are left to cumber earth.
Shuddering I look On what is written, yet I blot not out The desultory numbers--let them stand.
The record of an idle revery.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

A Forest Hymn

THE GROVES were God's first temples.
Ere man learned To hew the shaft and lay the architrave And spread the roof above them¡ªere he framed The lofty vault to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood 5 Amidst the cool and silence he knelt down And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication.
For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences Which from the stilly twilight of the place 10 And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops stole over him and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power 15 And inaccessible majesty.
Ah why Should we in the world's riper years neglect God's ancient sanctuaries and adore Only among the crowd and under roofs That our frail hands have raised? Let me at least 20 Here in the shadow of this aged wood Offer one hymn¡ªthrice happy if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns thou 25 Didst weave this verdant roof.
Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth and forthwith rose All these fair ranks of trees.
They in thy sun Budded and shook their green leaves in thy breeze And shot towards heaven.
The century-living crow 30 Whose birth was in their tops grew old and died Among their branches till at last they stood As now they stand massy and tall and dark Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker.
These dim vaults 35 These winding aisles of human pomp or pride Report not.
No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works.
But thou art here¡ªthou fill'st The solitude.
Thou art in the soft winds 40 That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes scarcely felt; the barky trunks the ground The fresh moist ground are all instinct with thee.
45 Here is continual worship;¡ªNature here In the tranquillity that thou dost love Enjoys thy presence.
Noiselessly around From perch to perch the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring that midst its herbs 50 Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest tells no tale Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness in these shades Of thy perfections.
Grandeur strength and grace 55 Are here to speak of thee.
This mighty oak ¡ª By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated¡ªnot a prince In all that proud old world beyond the deep E'er wore his crown as loftily as he 60 Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him.
Nestled at his root Is beauty such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun.
That delicate forest flower With scented breath and look so like a smile 65 Seems as it issues from the shapeless mould An emanation of the indwelling Life A visible token of the upholding Love That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think 70 Of the great miracle that still goes on In silence round me¡ªthe perpetual work Of thy creation finished yet renewed Forever.
Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity.
75 Lo! all grow old and die¡ªbut see again How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses ¡ªever-gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms.
These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors 80 Moulder beneath them.
O there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet After the flight of untold centuries The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie.
Life mocks the idle hate 85 Of his arch-enemy Death¡ªyea seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne¡ªthe sepulchre And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment.
For he came forth From thine own bosom and shall have no end.
90 There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness and gave Their lives to thought and prayer till they outlived The generation born with them nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks 95 Around them;¡ªand there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes Retire and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue.
Here its enemies 100 The passions at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still.
O God! when thou Dost scare the world with tempests set on fire The heavens with falling thunderbolts or fill With all the waters of the firmament 105 The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the villages; when at thy call Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent and overwhelms Its cities¡ªwho forgets not at the sight 110 Of these tremendous tokens of thy power His pride and lays his strifes and follies by? O from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchain¨¨d elements to teach 115 Who rules them.
Be it ours to meditate In these calm shades thy milder majesty And to the beautiful order of thy works Learn to conform the order of our lives.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

November

 There is wind where the rose was, 
Cold rain where sweet grass was, 
And clouds like sheep 
Stream o'er the steep 
Grey skies where the lark was.
Nought warm where your hand was, Nought gold where your hair was, But phantom, forlorn, Beneath the thorn, Your ghost where your face was.
Cold wind where your voice was, Tears, tears where my heart was, And ever with me, Child, ever with me, Silence where hope was.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Death of the Flowers

THE MELANCHOLY days have come the saddest of the year  
Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sere; 
Heaped in the hollows of the grove the autumn leaves lie dead; 
They rustle to the eddying gust and to the rabbit's tread; 
The robin and the wren are flown and from the shrubs the jay 5 
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers the fair young flowers that lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs a beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves the gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds with the fair and good of ours.
10 The rain is falling where they lie but the cold November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet they perished long ago And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow; But on the hill the goldenrod and the aster in the wood 15 And the blue sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven as falls the plague on men And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland glade and glen.
And now when comes the calm mild day as still such days will come To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; 20 When the sound of dropping nuts is heard though all the trees are still And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died 25 The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her when the forests cast the leaf And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief: Yet not unmeet it was that one like that young friend of ours So gentle and so beautiful should perish with the flowers.
30

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Past

THOU unrelenting Past! 
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain  
And fetters sure and fast  
Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm withdrawn 5 Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom And glorious ages gone Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
Childhood with all its mirth Youth Manhood Age that draws us to the ground 10 And last Man's Life on earth Glide to thy dim dominions and are bound.
Thou hast my better years; Thou hast my earlier friends the good the kind Yielded to thee with tears¡ª 15 The venerable form the exalted mind.
My spirit yearns to bring The lost ones back¡ªyearns with desire intense And struggles hard to wring Thy bolts apart and pluck thy captives thence.
20 In vain; thy gates deny All passage save to those who hence depart; Nor to the streaming eye Thou giv'st them back¡ªnor to the broken heart.
In thy abysses hide 25 Beauty and excellence unknown; to thee Earth's wonder and her pride Are gathered as the waters to the sea; Labors of good to man Unpublished charity unbroken faith 30 Love that midst grief began And grew with years and faltered not in death.
Full many a mighty name Lurks in thy depths unuttered unrevered; With thee are silent fame 35 Forgotten arts and wisdom disappeared.
Thine for a space are they¡ª Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last: Thy gates shall yet give way Thy bolts shall fall inexorable Past! 40 All that of good and fair Has gone into thy womb from earliest time Shall then come forth to wear The glory and the beauty of its prime.
They have not perished¡ªno! 45 Kind words remembered voices once so sweet Smiles radiant long ago And features the great soul's apparent seat.
All shall come back; each tie Of pure affection shall be knit again; 50 Alone shall Evil die And Sorrow dwell a prisoner in thy reign.
And then shall I behold Him by whose kind paternal side I sprung And her who still and cold 55 Fills the next grave¡ªthe beautiful and young.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Battle-Field

ONCE this soft turf, this rivulet's sands, 
Were trampled by a hurrying crowd, 
And fiery hearts and arm¨¨d hands 
Encountered in the battle-cloud.
Ah! never shall the land forget 5 How gushed the life-blood of her brave¡ª Gushed, warm with hope and courage yet, Upon the soil they fought to save.
Now all is calm, and fresh, and still; Alone the chirp of flitting bird, 10 And talk of children on the hill, And bell of wandering kine, are heard.
No solemn host goes trailing by The black-mouthed gun and staggering wain; Men start not at the battle-cry,¡ª 15 O, be it never heard again! Soon rested those who fought; but thou Who minglest in the harder strife For truths which men receive not now, Thy warfare only ends with life.
20 A friendless warfare! lingering long Through weary day and weary year; A wild and many-weaponed throng Hang on thy front, and flank, and rear.
Yet nerve thy spirit to the proof, 25 And blench not at thy chosen lot, The timid good may stand aloof, The sage may frown¡ªyet faint thou not.
Nor heed the shaft too surely cast, The foul and hissing bolt of scorn; 30 For with thy side shall dwell, at last, The victory of endurance born.
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again; The eternal years of God are hers; But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, 35 And dies among his worshippers.
Yea, though thou lie upon the dust, When they who helped thee flee in fear, Die full of hope and manly trust, Like those who fell in battle here.
40 Another hand thy sword shall wield, Another hand the standard wave, Till from the trumpet's mouth is pealed The blast of triumph o'er thy grave.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

November

 Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! 
One mellow smile through the soft vapoury air, 
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds ran, 
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, And the blue Gentian flower, that, in the breeze, Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee Shall murmur by the hedge that skim the way, The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Planting of the Apple-Tree

COME let us plant the apple-tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade; Wide let its hollow bed be made; There gently lay the roots and there Sift the dark mould with kindly care 5 And press it o'er them tenderly As round the sleeping infant's feet We softly fold the cradle sheet; So plant we the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree? 10 Buds which the breath of summer days Shall lengthen into leafy sprays; Boughs where the thrush with crimson breast Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest; We plant upon the sunny lea 15 A shadow for the noontide hour A shelter from the summer shower When we plant the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree? Sweets for a hundred flowery springs 20 To load the May-wind's restless wings When from the orchard row he pours Its fragrance through our open doors; A world of blossoms for the bee Flowers for the sick girl's silent room 25 For the glad infant sprigs of bloom We plant with the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree! Fruits that shall swell in sunny June And redden in the August noon 30 And drop when gentle airs come by That fan the blue September sky While children come with cries of glee And seek them where the fragrant grass Betrays their bed to those who pass 35 At the foot of the apple-tree.
And when above this apple-tree The winter stars are quivering bright And winds go howling through the night Girls whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth 40 Shall peel its fruit by cottage-hearth And guests in prouder homes shall see Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine And golden orange of the line The fruit of the apple-tree.
45 The fruitage of this apple-tree Winds and our flag of stripe and star Shall bear to coasts that lie afar Where men shall wonder at the view And ask in what fair groves they grew; 50 And sojourners beyond the sea Shall think of childhood's careless day And long long hours of summer play In the shade of the apple-tree.
Each year shall give this apple-tree 55 A broader flush of roseate bloom A deeper maze of verdurous gloom And loosen when the frost-clouds lower The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower; The years shall come and pass but we 60 Shall hear no longer where we lie The summer's songs the autumn's sigh In the boughs of the apple-tree.
And time shall waste this apple-tree.
Oh when its aged branches throw 65 Thin shadows on the ground below Shall fraud and force and iron will Oppress the weak and helpless still? What shall the tasks of mercy be Amid the toils the strifes the tears 70 Of those who live when length of years Is wasting this little apple-tree? Who planted this old apple-tree? The children of that distant day Thus to some aged man shall say; 75 And gazing on its mossy stem The gray-haired man shall answer them: A poet of the land was he, Born in the rude but good old times; 'T is said he made some quaint old rhymes 80 On planting the apple-tree.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

Thanatopsis

TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds 
Communion with her visible forms she speaks 
A various language; for his gayer hours 
She has a voice of gladness and a smile 
And eloquence of beauty and she glides 5 
Into his darker musings with a mild 
And healing sympathy that steals away 
Their sharpness ere he is aware.
When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit and sad images 10 Of the stern agony and shroud and pall And breathless darkness and the narrow house Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;¡ª Go forth under the open sky and list To Nature's teachings while from all around¡ª 15 Earth and her waters and the depths of air¡ª Comes a still voice¡ªYet a few days and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground Where thy pale form was laid with many tears 20 Nor in the embrace of ocean shall exist Thy image.
Earth that nourished thee shall claim Thy growth to be resolved to earth again And lost each human trace surrendering up Thine individual being shalt thou go 25 To mix forever with the elements; To be a brother to the insensible rock And to the sluggish clod which the rude swain Turns with his share and treads upon.
The oak Shall send his roots abroad and pierce thy mould.
30 Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone nor couldst thou wish Couch more magnificent.
Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world ¡ªwith kings The powerful of the earth ¡ªthe wise the good 35 Fair forms and hoary seers of ages past All in one mighty sepulchre.
The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods¡ªrivers that move 40 In majesty and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and poured round all Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste ¡ª Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun 45 The planets all the infinite host of heaven Are shining on the sad abodes of death Through the still lapse of ages.
All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom.
¡ªTake the wings 50 Of morning pierce the Barcan wilderness Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound Save his own dashings ¡ªyet the dead are there: And millions in those solitudes since first 55 The flight of years began have laid them down In their last sleep¡ªthe dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw In silence from the living and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that breathe 60 Will share thy destiny.
The gay will laugh When thou art gone the solemn brood of care Plod on and each one as before will chase His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave Their mirth and their employments and shall come 65 And make their bed with thee.
As the long train Of ages glide away the sons of men The youth in life's green spring and he who goes In the full strength of years matron and maid The speechless babe and the gray-headed man¡ª 70 Shall one by one be gathered to thy side By those who in their turn shall follow them.
So live that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan which moves To that mysterious realm where each shall take 75 His chamber in the silent halls of death Thou go not like the quarry-slave at night Scourged to his dungeon but sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust approach thy grave Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 80 About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

June

I GAZED upon the glorious sky 
And the green mountains round  
And thought that when I came to lie 
At rest within the ground  
'T were pleasant that in flowery June 5 
When brooks send up a cheerful tune  
And groves a joyous sound  
The sexton's hand my grave to make  
The rich green mountain-turf should break.
A cell within the frozen mould 10 A coffin borne through sleet And icy clods above it rolled While fierce the tempests beat¡ª Away!¡ªI will not think of these¡ª Blue be the sky and soft the breeze 15 Earth green beneath the feet And be the damp mould gently pressed Into my narrow place of rest.
There through the long long summer hours The golden light should lie 20 And thick young herbs and groups of flowers Stand in their beauty by.
The oriole should build and tell His love-tale close beside my cell; The idle butterfly 25 Should rest him there and there be heard The housewife bee and humming-bird.
And what if cheerful shouts at noon Come from the village sent Or song of maids beneath the moon 30 With fairy laughter blent? And what if in the evening light Betroth¨¨d lovers walk in sight Of my low monument? I would the lovely scene around 35 Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
I know that I no more should see The season's glorious show Nor would its brightness shine for me Nor its wild music flow; 40 But if around my place of sleep The friends I love should come to weep They might not haste to go.
Soft airs and song and light and bloom Should keep them lingering by my tomb.
45 These to their softened hearts should bear The thought of what has been And speak of one who cannot share The gladness of the scene; Whose part in all the pomp that fills 50 The circuit of the summer hills Is that his grave is green; And deeply would their hearts rejoice To hear again his living voice.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Future Life

HOW shall I know thee in the sphere which keeps 
The disembodied spirits of the dead  
When all of thee that time could wither sleeps 
And perishes among the dust we tread? 

For I shall feel the sting of ceaseless pain 5 
If there I meet thy gentle presence not; 
Nor hear the voice I love nor read again 
In thy serenest eyes the tender thought.
Will not thy own meek heart demand me there? That heart whose fondest throbs to me were given¡ª 10 My name on earth was ever in thy prayer And wilt thou never utter it in heaven? In meadows fanned by heaven's life-breathing wind In the resplendence of that glorious sphere And larger movements of the unfettered mind 15 Wilt thou forget the love that joined us here? The love that lived through all the stormy past And meekly with my harsher nature bore And deeper grew and tenderer to the last Shall it expire with life and be no more? 20 A happier lot than mine and larger light Await thee there for thou hast bowed thy will In cheerful homage to the rule of right And lovest all and renderest good for ill.
For me the sordid cares in which I dwell 25 Shrink and consume my heart as heat the scroll; And wrath has left its scar¡ªthat fire of hell Has left its frightful scar upon my soul.
Yet though thou wear'st the glory of the sky Wilt thou not keep the same belov¨¨d name 30 The same fair thoughtful brow and gentle eye Lovelier in heaven's sweet climate yet the same? Shalt thou not teach me in that calmer home The wisdom that I learned so ill in this¡ª The wisdom which is love¡ªtill I become 35 Thy fit companion in that land of bliss?

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

Oh Mother of a Mighty Race

OH mother of a mighty race  
Yet lovely in thy youthful grace! 
The elder dames thy haughty peers  
Admire and hate thy blooming years.
With words of shame 5 And taunts of scorn they join thy name.
For on thy cheeks the glow is spread That tints thy morning hills with red; Thy step¡ªthe wild deer's rustling feet Within thy woods are not more fleet; 10 Thy hopeful eye Is bright as thine own sunny sky.
Ay let them rail¡ªthose haughty ones While safe thou dwellest with thy sons.
They do not know how loved thou art 15 How many a fond and fearless heart Would rise to throw Its life between thee and the foe.
They know not in their hate and pride What virtues with thy children bide; 20 How true how good thy graceful maids Make bright like flowers the valley-shades; What generous men Spring like thine oaks by hill and glen.
What cordial welcomes greet the guest 25 By thy lone rivers of the West; How faith is kept and truth revered And man is loved and God is feared In woodland homes And where the ocean-border foams.
30 There 's freedom at thy gates and rest For Earth's down-trodden and opprest A shelter for the hunted head For the starved laborer toil and bread.
Power at thy bounds 35 Stops and calls back his baffled hounds.
Oh fair young mother! on thy brow Shall sit a nobler grace than now.
Deep in the brightness of the skies The thronging years in glory rise 40 And as they fleet Drop strength and riches at thy feet.
Thine eye with every coming hour Shall brighten and thy form shall tower; And when thy sisters elder born 45 Would brand thy name with words of scorn Before thine eye Upon their lips the taunt shall die.

Written by William Cullen Bryant |

The Living Lost

 Matron! the children of whose love,
Each to his grave, in youth have passed,
And now the mould is heaped above
The dearest and the last!
Bride! who dost wear the widow's veil
Before the wedding flowers are pale!
Ye deem the human heart endures
No deeper, bitterer grief than yours.
Yet there are pangs of keener wo, Of which the sufferers never speak, Nor to the world's cold pity show The tears that scald the cheek, Wrung from their eyelids by the shame And guilt of those they shrink to name, Whom once they loved, with cheerful will, And love, though fallen and branded, still.
Weep, ye who sorrow for the dead, Thus breaking hearts their pain relieve; And graceful are the tears ye shed, And honoured ye who grieve.
The praise of those who sleep in earth, The pleasant memory of their worth, The hope to meet when life is past, Shall heal the tortured mind at last.
But ye, who for the living lost That agony in secret bear, Who shall with soothing words accost The strength of your despair? Grief for your sake is scorn for them Whom ye lament and all condemn; And o'er the world of spirits lies A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.