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.
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.
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.
William Cullen Bryant
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