(D. Appleton & Co., Publishers) WILLIAM CyllEN BRYANT, poet and journalist, born at Cummington, Mass., 1794; died in New York, 1878. When only nine he wrote his first poems. The Embargo Act stirred the country in 1807, and young Bryant published a number of satirical poems in regard to it that had wide circulation. In 1825 he became an editor of a magazine in New York and his life from that time was devoted entirely to literary work on magazines and newspapers. For many years he was editor and proprietor of the New York Evening Post.

TO A WATERFOWL WHITHER, mid'st 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 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,
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-
The desert and illimitable air-
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.

[ocr errors]

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
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, In the long way that I must tread alone

Will lead my steps aright.


THE melancholy days are come, the saddest of the

I year, Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows

brown and sear. Heaped in the hollows of the groves, the withered

leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's


The robin and the wren are flown, and from their

shrubs the jay, 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 sister

hood? Alas! they are all in their graves: the gentle race of

flowers Are lying in their beds, with the fair and good of

ours, The rain is falling where they lie; but the cold

November rain Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones


The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long

ago; And the brier-rose and the orchids died amid the

summer glow: But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the

wood, And the yellow sun-flower 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 froin up

land, glade, and glen.

And now, when comes the calm, mild day--as still

such days will comeTo call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter

home, 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 fra

grance 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, The fair, meek blossom that grew up and faded

by my side:In the cold, moist earth we laid her, when the

forest 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



m o him who, in the love of Nature, holds

1 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 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 Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heartGo forth under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all aroundEarth and her waters, and the depths of airComes a still voice:-Yet 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, 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
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.

Yet not to thy eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone,--nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world-with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
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; rivers, that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks,
That make the meadows green; and, poured round

all, Old ocean's gray and melancholy waste,Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man ! The golden sun, 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. Take the wings 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—yet the dead are there ! And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep-the 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

« ForrigeFortsett »