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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.


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.


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


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by William Cullen Bryant | |

To a Waterfowl

WHITHER midst falling dew  
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day  
Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue 
Thy solitary way? 

Vainly the fowler's eye 5 
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong  
As darkly seen against the crimson sky  
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake or marge of river wide 10 Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean-side? There is a Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast¡ª The desert and illimitable air¡ª 15 Lone wandering but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned At that far height the cold thin atmosphere Yet stoop not weary to the welcome land Though the dark night is near.
20 And soon that toil shall end; Soon shalt thou find a summer home and rest And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou 'rt gone the abyss of heaven 25 Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given And shall not soon depart.
He who from zone to zone Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight 30 In the long way that I must tread alone Will lead my steps aright.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Crowded Street

LET me move slowly through the street  
Filled with an ever-shifting train  
Amid the sound of steps that beat 
The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
How fast the flitting figures come! 5 The mild the fierce the stony face; Some bright with thoughtless smiles and some Where secret tears have left their trace.
They pass¡ªto toil to strife to rest; To halls in which the feast is spread; 10 To chambers where the funeral guest In silence sits beside the dead.
And some to happy homes repair Where children pressing cheek to cheek With mute caresses shall declare 15 The tenderness they cannot speak.
And some who walk in calmness here Shall shudder as they reach the door Where one who made their dwelling dear Its flower its light is seen no more.
20 Youth with pale cheek and slender frame And dreams of greatness in thine eye! Go'st thou to build an early name Or early in the task to die? Keen son of trade with eager brow! 25 Who is now fluttering in thy snare? Thy golden fortunes tower they now Or melt the glittering spires in air? Who of this crowd to-night shall tread The dance till daylight gleam again? 30 Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead? Who writhe in throes of mortal pain? Some famine-struck shall think how long The cold dark hours how slow the light; And some who flaunt amid the throng 35 Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
Each where his tasks or pleasures call They pass and heed each other not.
There is who heeds who holds them all In His large love and boundless thought.
40 These struggling tides of life that seem In wayward aimless course to tend Are eddies of the mighty stream That rolls to its appointed end.


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?


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.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Song of Marions Men

OUR band is few but true and tried  
Our leader frank and bold; 
The British soldier trembles 
When Marion's name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood 5 Our tent the cypress-tree; We know the forest round us As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines Its glades of reedy grass 10 Its safe and silent islands Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery That little dread us near! On them shall light at midnight 15 A strange and sudden fear: When waking to their tents on fire They grasp their arms in vain And they who stand to face us Are beat to earth again; 20 And they who fly in terror deem A mighty host behind And hear the tramp of thousands Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release 25 From danger and from toil; We talk the battle over And share the battle's spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout As if a hunt were up 30 And woodland flowers are gathered To crown the soldier's cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind That in the pine-top grieves And slumber long and sweetly 35 On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon The band that Marion leads¡ª The glitter of their rifles The scampering of their steeds.
40 'T is life to guide the fiery barb Across the moonlit plain; 'T is life to feel the night-wind That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp¡ª 45 A moment¡ªand away Back to the pathless forest Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee Grave men with hoary hairs; 50 Their hearts are all with Marion For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band With kindliest welcoming With smiles like those of summer 55 And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms And lay them down no more Till we have driven the Briton Forever from our shore.
60


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The West Wind

 IT'S a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries; 
I never hear the west wind but tears are in my eyes.
For it comes from the west lands, the old brown hills.
And April's in the west wind, and daffodils.
It's a fine land, the west land, for hearts as tired as mine, Apple orchards blossom there, and the air's like wine.
There is cool green grass there, where men may lie at rest, And the thrushes are in song there, fluting from the nest.
"Will ye not come home brother? ye have been long away, It's April, and blossom time, and white is the may; And bright is the sun brother, and warm is the rain,-- Will ye not come home, brother, home to us again? "The young corn is green, brother, where the rabbits run.
It's blue sky, and white clouds, and warm rain and sun.
It's song to a man's soul, brother, fire to a man's brain, To hear the wild bees and see the merry spring again.
"Larks are singing in the west, brother, above the green wheat, So will ye not come home, brother, and rest your tired feet? I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes," Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries.
It's the white road westwards is the road I must tread To the green grass, the cool grass, and rest for heart and head, To the violets, and the warm hearts, and the thrushes' song, In the fine land, the west land, the land where I belong.


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.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

A Song of Pitcairns Island

 Come, take our boy, and we will go
Before our cabin door;
The winds shall bring us, as they blow,
The murmurs of the shore;
And we will kiss his young blue eyes, 
And I will sing him, as he lies,
Songs that were made of yore:
I'll sing, in his delighted ear,
The island lays thou lov'st to hear.
And thou, while stammering I repeat, Thy country's tongue shalt teach; 'Tis not so soft, but far more sweet, Than my own native speech: For thou no other tongue didst know, When, scarcely twenty moons ago, Upon Tahete's beach, Thou cam'st to woo me to be thine, With many a speaking look and sign.
I knew thy meaning--thou didst praise My eyes, my locks of jet; Ah! well for me they won thy gaze,-- But thine were fairer yet! I'm glad to see my infant wear Thy soft blue eyes and sunny hair, And when my sight is met By his white brow and blooming cheek, I feel a joy I cannot speak.
Come talk of Europe's maids with me, Whose necks and cheeks, they tell, Outshine the beauty of the sea, White foam and crimson shell.
I'll shape like theirs my simple dress, And bind like them each jetty tress.
A sight to please thee well: And for my dusky brow will braid A bonnet like an English maid.
Come, for the soft low sunlight calls, We lose the pleasant hours; 'Tis lovelier than these cottage walls,-- That seat among the flowers.
And I will learn of thee a prayer, To Him, who gave a home so fair, A lot so blessed as ours-- The God who made, for thee and me, This sweet lone isle amid the sea.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Hymn of the City

 Not in the solitude 
Alone may man commune with heaven, or see 
Only in savage wood 
And sunny vale, the present Deity; 
Or only hear his voice 
Where the winds whisper and the waves rejoice.
Even here do I behold Thy steps, Almighty!--here, amidst the crowd, Through the great city rolled, With everlasting murmur deep and loud-- Choking the ways that wind 'Mongst the proud piles, the work of humankind.
Thy golden sunshine comes From the round heaven, and on their dwellings lies, And lights their inner homes; For them thou fill'st with air the unbounded skies, And givest them the stores Of ocean, and the harvests of its shores.
Thy spirit is around, Quickening the restless mass that sweeps along; And this eternal sound-- Voices and footfalls of the numberless throng-- Like the resounding sea, Or like the rainy tempest, speaks of thee.
And when the hours of rest Come, like a calm upon the mid-sea brine, Hushing its billowy breast-- The quiet of that moment too is thine; It breathes of him who keeps The vast and helpless city while it sleeps.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Consumption

 Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine 
Too brightly to shine long; another Spring 
Shall deck her for men's eyes---but not for thine--- 
Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening.
The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf, And the vexed ore no mineral of power; And they who love thee wait in anxious grief Till the slow plague shall bring the final hour.
Glide softly to thy rest then; Death should come Gently, to one of gentle mould like thee, As light winds wandering through groves of bloom Detach the delicate blossom from the tree.
Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain; And we will trust in God to see thee yet again.


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.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Love and Folly

 Love's worshippers alone can know
The thousand mysteries that are his;
His blazing torch, his twanging bow,
His blooming age are mysteries.
A charming science--but the day Were all too short to con it o'er; So take of me this little lay, A sample of its boundless lore.
As once, beneath the fragrant shade Of myrtles breathing heaven's own air, The children, Love and Folly, played-- A quarrel rose betwixt the pair.
Love said the gods should do him right-- But Folly vowed to do it then, And struck him, o'er the orbs of sight, So hard, he never saw again.
His lovely mother's grief was deep, She called for vengeance on the deed; A beauty does not vainly weep, Nor coldly does a mother plead.
A shade came o'er the eternal bliss That fills the dwellers of the skies; Even stony-hearted Nemesis, And Rhadamanthus, wiped their eyes.
"Behold," she said, "this lovely boy," While streamed afresh her graceful tears, "Immortal, yet shut out from joy And sunshine, all his future years.
The child can never take, you see, A single step without a staff-- The harshest punishment would be Too lenient for the crime by half.
" All said that Love had suffered wrong, And well that wrong should be repaid; Then weighed the public interest long, And long the party's interest weighed.
And thus decreed the court above-- "Since Love is blind from Folly's blow, Let Folly be the guide of Love, Where'er the boy may choose to go.
"


by William Cullen Bryant | |

Mutation

 They talk of short-lived pleasure--be it so-- 
Pain dies as quickly; stern, hard-featured pain 
Expires, and lets her weary prisoner go.
The fiercest agonies have shortest reign; And after dreams of horror, comes again The welcome morning with its rays of peace.
Oblivion, softly wiping out the stain, Makes the strong secret pangs of pain to cease: Remorse is virtue's root; its fair increase Are fruits of innocence and blessedness; Thus joy, o'erborne and bound, doth still release His young limbs from the chains that round him press.
Weep not that the world changes--did it keep A stable, changeless state, 'twere cause indeed to weep.


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.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Death of Lincoln

 Oh, slow to smit and swift to spare, 
Gentle and merciful and just! 
Who, in the fear of God, didst bear 
The sword of power, a nation's trust! 

In sorrow by thy bier we stand, 
Amid the awe that hushes all, 
And speak the anguish of a land 
That shook with horror at thy fall.
Thy task is done; the bond of free; We bear thee to an honored grave, Whose proudest monument shall be The broken fetters of the slave.
Pure was thy life; its bloddy close Hath placed thee with the sons of light, Among the noble host of those Who perished in the cause of Right.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Gladness of Nature

 Is this a time to be cloudy and sad, 
When our mother Nature laughs around; 
When even the deep blue heavens look glad, 
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground? 

There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren, 
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky; 
The ground-squirrel gaily chirps by his den, 
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space, And their shadows at play on the bright green vale, And here they stretch to the frolic chase, And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower, There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower, And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, On the leaping waters and gay young isles; Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Skies

 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.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The West Wind

 Beneath the forest's skirts I rest,
Whose branching pines rise dark and high,
And hear the breezes of the West
Among the threaded foliage sigh.
Sweet Zephyr! why that sound of wo? Is not thy home among the flowers? Do not the bright June roses blow, To meet thy kiss at morning hours? And lo! thy glorious realm outspread-- Yon stretching valleys, green and gay, And yon free hilltops, o'er whose head The loose white clouds are borne away.
And there the full broad river runs, And many a fount wells fresh and sweet, To cool thee when the mid-day suns Have made thee faint beneath their heat.
Thou wind of joy, and youth, and love; Spirit of the new wakened year! The sun in his blue realm above Smooths a bright path when thou art here.
In lawns the murmuring bee is heard, The wooing ring-dove in the shade; On thy soft breath, the new-fledged bird Takes wing, half happy, half afraid.
Ah! thou art like our wayward race;-- When not a shade of pain or ill Dims the bright smile of Nature's face, Thou lov'st to sigh and murmur still.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

The Yellow Violet

 When beechen buds begin to swell, 
And woods the blue-bird's warble know, 
The yellow violet's modest bell 
Peeps from last-year's leaves below.
Ere russet fields their green resume, Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare, To meet thee, when thy faint perfume Alone is in the virgin air.
Of all her train, the hands of Spring First plant thee in the watery mould, And I have seen thee blossoming Beside the snow-bank's edges cold.
Thy parent sun, who bade thee view Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip Has bathed thee in his own bright hue, And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.
Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat, And earthward bent thy gentle eye, Unapt the passing view to meet, When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day, Thy early smile has stayed my walk; But midst the gorgeous blooms of May I passed thee on thy humple stalk.
So they, who climb to wealth, forget The friends in darker fortunes tried; I copied them--but I regret That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour Awakes the painted tribes of light, I'll not o'er look the modest flower That made the woods of April bright.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

To A Cloud

 Beautiful cloud! with folds so soft and fair,
Swimming in the pure quiet air!
Thy fleeces bathed in sunlight, while below
Thy shadow o'er the vale moves slow;
Where, midst their labour, pause the reaper train
As cool it comes along the grain.
Beautiful cloud! I would I were with thee In thy calm way o'er land and sea: To rest on thy unrolling skirts, and look On Earth as on an open book; On streams that tie her realms with silver bands, And the long ways that seam her lands; And hear her humming cities, and the sound Of the great ocean breaking round.
Ay--I would sail upon thy air-borne car To blooming regions distant far, To where the sun of Andalusia shines On his own olive-groves and vines, Or the soft lights of Italy's bright sky In smiles upon her ruins lie.
But I would woo the winds to let us rest O'er Greece long fettered and oppressed, Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes From the old battle-fields and tombs, And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe Have dealt the swift and desperate blow, And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke Has touched its chains, and they are broke.
Ay, we would linger till the sunset there Should come, to purple all the air, And thou reflect upon the sacred ground The ruddy radiance streaming round.
Bright meteor! for the summer noontide made! Thy peerless beauty yet shall fade.
The sun, that fills with light each glistening fold, Shall set, and leave thee dark and cold: The blast shall rend thy skirts, or thou may'st frown In the dark heaven when storms come down, And weep in rain, till man's inquiring eye Miss thee, forever from the sky.


by William Cullen Bryant | |

To the Fringed Gentian

 Thou blossom bright with autumn dew, 
And colored with the heaven's own blue, 
That openest when the quiet light 
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.
Thou comest not when violets lean O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen, Or columbines, in purple dressed, Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.
Thou waitest late and com'st alone, When woods are bare and birds are flown, And frosts and shortening days portend The aged year is near his end.
Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye Look through its fringes to the sky, Blue--blue--as if that sky let fall A flower from its cerulean wall.
I would that thus, when I shall see The hour of death draw near to me, Hope, blossoming within my heart, May look to heaven as I depart.