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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 |

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. 


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. 


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. 


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.  


by William Cullen Bryant |

The Snow-Shower

STAND here by my side and turn, I pray, 
On the lake below thy gentle eyes; 
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray, 
And dark and silent the water lies; 
And out of that frozen mist the snow 5 
In wavering flakes begins to flow; 
Flake after flake 
They sink in the dark and silent lake. 

See how in a living swarm they come 
From the chambers beyond that misty veil; 10 
Some hover awhile in air, and some 
Rush prone from the sky like summer hail. 
All, dropping swiftly or settling slow, 
Meet and are still in the depths below; 
Flake after flake 15 
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake. 

Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud, 
Come floating downward in airy play, 
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd 
That whiten by night the milky-way; 20 
There broader and burlier masses fall; 
The sullen water buries them all¡ª 
Flake after flake 
All drowned in the dark and silent lake. 

And some, as on tender wings they glide 25 
From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray, 
Are joined in their fall, and, side by side, 
Come clinging along their unsteady way; 
As friend with friend, or husband with wife, 
Makes hand in hand the passage of life; 30 
Each mated flake 
Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake. 

Lo! while we are gazing, in swifter haste 
Stream down the snows, till the air is white, 
As, myriads by myriads madly chased, 35 
They fling themselves from their shadowy height. 
The fair, frail creatures of middle sky, 
What speed they make, with their grave so nigh; 
Flake after flake, 
To lie in the dark and silent lake! 40 

I see in thy gentle eyes a tear; 
They turn to me in sorrowful thought; 
Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear, 
Who were for a time and now are not; 
Like these fair children of cloud and frost, 45 
That glisten a moment and then are lost, 
Flake after flake¡ª 
All lost in the dark and silent lake. 

Yet look again, for the clouds divide; 
A gleam of blue on the water lies; 50 
And far away, on the mountain-side, 
A sunbeam falls from the opening skies. 
But the hurrying host that flew between 
The cloud and the water, no more is seen; 
Flake after flake, 55 
At rest in the dark and silent lake.


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 


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 |

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 |

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.