Selected Poems of William Cullen Bryant


 

An Indian At The Burial Place Of His Fathers

It is the spot I came to seek --
My father's ancient burial-place,
Ere from these vales, ashamed and weak,
Withdrew our wasted race.
It is the spot -- I know it well --
Of which our old traditions tell.
For here the upland bank sends out
A ridge toward the river-side;
I know the shaggy hills about,
The meadows smooth and wide,
The plains, that, toward the southern sky,
Fenced east and west by mountains lie.
A white man, gazing on the scene,
Would say a lovely spot was here,
And praise the lawns, so fresh and green,
Between the hills so sheer.
I like it not -- I would the plain
Lay in its tall old groves again.
The sheep are on the slopes around,
The cattle in the meadows feed,
And laborers turn the crumbling ground,
Or drop the yellow seed,
And prancing steeds, in trappings gay,
Whirl the bright chariot o'er the way.
Methinks it were a nobler sight
To see these vales in woods arrayed,
Their summits in the golden light,
Their trunks in grateful shade,
And herds of deer that bounding go
O'er hills and prostrate trees below.
And then to mark the lord of all,
The forest hero, trained to wars,
Quivered and plumed, and lithe and tall,
And seamed with glorious scars,
Walk forth, amid his reign, to dare
The wolf, and grapple with the bear.
This bank, in which the dead were laid,
Was sacred when its soil was ours;
Hither the silent Indian maid
Brought wreaths of beads and flowers,
And the gray chief and gifted seer
Worshipped the god of thunders here.
But now the wheat is green and high
On clods that hid the warrior's breast,
And scattered in the furrows lie
The weapons of his rest;
And there, in the loose sand, is thrown
Of his large arm the mouldering bone.
Ah, little thought the strong and brave
Who bore their lifeless chieftain forth --
Or the young wife that weeping gave
Her first-born to the earth,
That the pale race, who waste us now,
Among their bones should guide the plough.
They waste us -- ay -- like April snow
In the warm noon, we shrink away;
And fast they follow, as we go
Toward the setting day --
Till they shall fill the land, and we
Are driven into the Western sea.
But I behold a fearful sign,
To which the white men's eyes are blind;
Their race may vanish hence, like mine,
And leave no trace behind,
Save ruins o'er the region spread,
And the white stones above the dead.
Before these fields were shorn and tilled,
Full to the brim our rivers flowed;
The melody of waters filled
The fresh and boundless wood;
And torrents dashed and rivulets played,
And fountains spouted in the shade.
Those grateful sounds are heard no more,
The springs are silent in the sun;
The rivers, by the blackened shore,
With lessening current run;
The realm our tribes are crushed to get
May be a barren desert yet.

Autumn Woods

Ere, in the northern gale,
The summer tresses of the trees are gone,
The woods of Autumn, all around our vale,
Have put their glory on.
The mountains that infold,
In their wide sweep, the colored landscape round,
Seem groups of giant kings, in purple and gold,
That guard the enchanted ground.
I roam the woods that crown
The uplands, where the mingled splendors glow,
Where the gay company of trees look down
On the green fields below.
My steps are not alone
In these bright walks; the sweet southwest, at play,
Flies, rustling, where the painted leaves are strown
Along the winding way.
And far in heaven, the while,
The sun, that sends that gale to wander here,
Pours out on the fair earth his quiet smile --
The sweetest of the year.
Where now the solemn shade,
Verdure and gloom where many branches meet;
So grateful, when the noon of summer made
The valleys sick with heat?
Let in through all the trees
Come the strange rays; the forest depths are bright;
Their sunny colored foliage, in the breeze,
Twinkles, like beams of light.
The rivulet, late unseen,
Where bickering through the shrubs its waters run,
Shines with the image of its golden screen,
And glimmerings of the sun.
But 'neath you crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
Her blush of maiden shame.
Oh, Autumn! why so soon
Depart the hues that make thy forests glad,
Thy gentle wind and thy fair sunny noon,
And leave thee wild and sad!
Ah! 'twere a lot too blest
Forever in thy colored shades to stray;
Amid the kisses of the soft southwest
To roam and dream for aye;
And leave the vain low strife
That makes men mad -- the tug for wealth and power --
The passions and the cares that wither life,
And waste its little hour.

November

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
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 skirts 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.

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 gayly 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 flowers
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.

The New Moon

When as the garish day is done,
Heaven burns with the descended sun,
'Tis passing sweet to mark,
Amid that flush of crimson light,
The new moon's modest bow grow bright
As earth and sky grow dark.
Few are the hearts too cold to feel
A thrill of gladness o'er them steal,
When first the wandering eye
Sees faintly, in the evening blaze,
That glimmering curve of tender rays
Just planted in the sky.
The sight of that young crescent brings
Thoughts of all fair and youthful things --
The hopes of early years;
And childhood's purity and grace,
And joys that like a rainbow chase
The passing shower of tears.
The captive yields him to the dream
Of freedom, when that virgin beam
Comes out upon the air;
And painfully the sick man tries
To fix his dim and burning eyes.
On the sweet promise there.
Most welcome to the lover's sight
Glitters that pure, emerging light;
For prattling poets say,
That sweetest is the lovers' walk,
And tenderest is their murmured talk,
Beneath its gentle ray.
And there do graver men behold
A type of errors, loved of old,
Forsaken and forgiven;
And thoughts and wishes not of earth
Just opening in their early birth,
Like that new light in heaven.

October

Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, mid bowers and brooks.
And, dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.

Midsummer

A power is on the earth and in the air
From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,
And shelters him, in nooks of deepest shade,
From the hot steam and from the fiery glare.
Look forth upon the earth -- her thousand plants
Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize
Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze;
The herd beside the shaded fountain pants;
For life is driven from all the landscape brown;
The bird has sought his tree, the snake his den,
The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and me
Drop by the sun-stroke in the populous town;
As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent
Its deadly breath into the firmament.

The West Wind

Beneath the forest's skirt I rest,
Whose branching pines rise dark and high,
And hear the breezes of the West
Among the thread-like foliage sigh.
Sweet Zephyr! why that sound of woe?
Is not thy home among the flower?
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 hill-top, 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.

The Evening Wind

Spirit that breathest through my lattice, thou
That cool'st the twilight of the sultry day
Gratefully flows thy freshness round my brow;
Thou hast been out upon the deep at play,
Riding all day the wild blue waves till now,
Roughening their crests, and scattering high their spray
And swelling the white sail. I welcome thee
To the scorched land, thou wanderer of the sea!
Nor I alone; a thousand bosoms round
Inhale thee in the fulness of delight;
And languid forms rise up, and pulses bound
Livelier, at coming of the wind of night;
And, languishing to hear thy grateful sound,
Lies the vast inland stretched beyond the sight.
Go forth into the gathering shade; go forth,
God's blessing breathed upon the fainting earth!
Go, rock the little wood-bird in his nest,
Curl the still waters, bright with stars, and rouse
The wide old wood from his majestic rest,
Summoning from the innumerable boughs
The strange, deep harmonies that haunt his breast:
Pleasant shall be thy way where meekly bows
The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass,
And where the o'erhadowing branches sweep the grass.
The faint old man shall lean his silver head
To feel thee; thou shalt kiss the child asleep,
And dry the moistened curls that overspread
His temples, while his breathing grows more deep;
And they who stand about the sick man's bed,
Shall joy to listen to thy distant sweep,
And softly part his curtains to allow
Thy visit, grateful to his burning brow.
Go -- but the circle of eternal change,
Which is the life of Nature, shall restore,
With sounds and scents from all thy mighty range,
Thee to thy birthplace of the deep once more;
Sweet odors in the sea-air, sweet and strange,
Shall tell the home-sick mariner of the shore;
And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem
He hears the rustling leaf and running stream.

Seventy-Six

What heroes from the woodland sprung,
When, through the fresh-awakened land,
The thrilling cry of freedom rung,
And to the work of warfare strung
The yeoman's iron hand!
Hills flung the cry to hills around,
And ocean-mart replied to mart,
And streams, whose spring were yet unfound,
Pealed far away the startling sound
Into the forest's heart.
Then marched the brave from rocky steep,
From mountain-river swift and cold;
The borders of the stormy deep,
The vale where gathered waters sleep,
Sent up the strong and bold, --
As if the very earth again
Grew quick with God's creating breath,
And, from the sods of grove and glen,
Rose ranks of lion-hearted men
To battle to the death.
The wife, whose babe first smiled that day,
The fair fond bride of yestereve,
And aged sire and matron gray,
Saw the loved warrior haste away,
And deemed it sin to grieve.
Already had the strife begun;
Already blood, on Concord's plain,
Along the springing grass had run,
And blood had flowed at Lexington,
Like brook of April rain.
That death-stain on the vernal ward
Hallowed to freedom all the shore;
In fragment fell the yoke abhorred --
The footstep of a foreign lord
Profaned the soil no more.

Earth's Children Cleave To Earth

Earth's children cleave to Earth -- her frail
Decaying children dread decay.
Yon wreath of mist that leaves the vale
And lessens in the morning ray --
Look, how, by mountain rivulet,
It lingers as it upward creeps,
And clings to fern and copsewood set
Along the green and dewy steeps
Clings to the lowery kalmia, clings
To precipices fringed with grass,
Dark maples where the wood-thrush sing,
And bowers of fragrant sassafras.
Yet all in vain -- it passes still
From hold to hold, it cannot stay,
And in the very beams that fill
The world with glory, wastes away,
Till, parting from the mountain's brow,
It vanishes from human eye,
And that which sprung of earth is nor
A portion of the glorious sky.

The Waning Moon

I've watched too late; the morn is near;
One look at God's broad silent sky!
Oh, hopes and wishes vainly dear,
How in your very strength ye die!
Even while your glow is on the cheek,
And scarce the high pursuit begun,
The heart grows faint, the hand grows weak,
The task of life is left undone.
See where, upon the horizon's brim,
Lies the still cloud in gloomy bars;
The waning moon, all pale and dim,
Goes up amid the eternal stars.
Late, in a flood of tender light,
She floated through the ethereal blue,
A softer sun, that shone all night
Upon the gathering beads of dew.
And still thou wanest, pallid moon!
The encroaching shadow grows apace;
Heaven's everlasting watchers soon
Shall see thee blotted from thy place.
Oh, Night's dethroned and crownless queen!
Well may thy sad, expiring ray
Be shed on those whose eyes have seen
Hope's glorious visions fade away.
Shine thou for forms that once were bright,
For sages in the mind's eclipse,
For those whose words were spells of might,
But falter now on stammering lips!
In thy decaying beam there lies
Full many a grave on hill and plain,
Of those who closed their dying eyes
In grief that they had lived in vain.
Another night, and thou among
The spheres of heaven shalt cease to shine,
All rayless in the glittering throng
Whose lustre late was quenched in thine.
Yet soon a new and tender light
From out thy darkened orb shall beam,
And broaden till it shines all night
On glistening dew and glimmering stream.

The Voice Of Autumn

There comes, from yonder height,
A soft repining sound,
Where forest-leaves are bright,
And fall, like flakes of light,
To the ground.
It is the autumn breeze,
That, lightly floating on,
Just skims the weedy leas,
Just stirs the glowing trees,
And is gone.
He moans by sedgy brook,
And visits, with a sigh,
The last pale flowers that look,
From out their sunny nook,
At the sky.
O'er shouting children flies
That light October wind,
And, kissing cheeks and eyes,
He leaves their merry cries
Far behind,
And wanders on to make
That soft uneasy sound
By distant wood and lake,
Where distant fountains break
From the ground.
No bower where maidens dwell
Can win a moment's stay;
Nor fair untrodden dell;
He sweeps the upland swell,
And away!
Mourn'st thou thy homeless state
O soft, repining wind!
That early seekest and late
The rest it is thy fate
Not to find.
Not on the mountain's breast,
Not on the ocean's shore,
In all the East and West:
The wind that stops to rest
Is no more.
By valleys, woods, and springs,
No wonder thou shouldst grieve
For all the glorious things
Thou touchest with thy wings
And must leave.

The Snow-Shower

Stand here by my side and turn, I pray,
On the lake below thy gentle eye;
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
And dark and silent the water lie;
And out of that frozen mist the snow
In wavering flake begins to flow;
Flake after flake
They sink in the dark and silent lake.
See how in a living swarm they come
From the chamber beyond that misty veil;
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 depth below;
Flake after flake
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.
Here delicate snow-star, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night the milky way;
There broader and burlier masses fall;
The sullen water buries them all --
Flake after flake --
All drowned in the dark and silent lake.
And some, as on tender wing they glide
From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray,
Are joined in their fall, and, side by side,
Come clinging along their unsteady way;
A friend with friend, or husband with wife,
Make hand in hand the passage of life;
Each mated flake
Soon sink 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,
They fling themselves from the 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!
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,
That glisten a moment and then are lost,
Flake after flake --
All lost in the dark and silent lake.
Yet look again, for the clouds divide;
A gleam of blue on the water lies;
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,
At rest in the dark and silent lake.

The Return Of The Birds

I Hear, from many a little throat,
A warble interrupted long;
I hear the robin's flute-like note,
The bluebird's slenderer song.
Brown meadows and the russet hill,
Not yet the haunt of grazing herds,
And thickets by the glimmering rill,
Are all alive with birds.
Oh choir of spring, why come so soon?
On leafless grove and herbless law
Warm lie the yellow beams of moon,
Yet winter is not gone.
For frost shall sheet the pools again;
Again the blustering East shall blow --
Whirl a white tempest through the glen,
And load the pines with snow.
Yet, haply, from the region where,
Waked by an earlier spring than here,
The blossomed wild-plum scents the air,
Ye come in haste and fear.
For there is heard the bugle-blast,
The booming gun, the jarring drum,
And on their chargers, spurring fast,
Armed warriors go and come.
There mighty hosts have pitched the camp
In valleys that were yours till then,
And Earth has shuddered to the tramp
Of half a million men!
In groves where once ye used to sing,
In orchards where ye had your birth,
A thousand glittering axes swing
To smite the trees to earth.
Ye love the fields by ploughmen trod;
But there, when sprouts the beechen spray,
The soldier only breaks the sod
To hide the slain away.
Stay, then, beneath our ruder sky;
Heed not the storm-clouds rising black,
Nor yelling winds that with them fly;
Nor let them fright you back, --
Back to the stifling battle-cloud,
To burning towns that blot the day,
And trains of mounting dust that shroud
The armies on their way.
Stay, for a tint of green shall creep
Soon o'er the orchard's grassy floor,
And from its bed the crocus peep
Beside the housewife's door.
Here build, and dread no harsher sound,
To scare you from the sheltering tree,
Than winds that stir the branches round
And murmur of the bee.
And we will pray that, ere again
The flowers of autumn bloom and die,
Our generals and their strong-armed men
May lay their weapons by.
Then may ye warble, unafraid,
Where hands, that wear the fetter now,
Free as your wings shall ply the spade,
And guide the peaceful plough.
Then, as our conquering hosts return,
What shouts of jubilee shall break
From placid vale and mountain stern,
And shore of mighty lake!
And midland plain and ocean-strand
Shall thunder "Glory to the brave,
Peace to the torn and bleeding land,
And freedom to the slave!"

A Song For New-Year's Eve

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay --
Stay till the good old year,
So long companion of our way,
Shakes hands, and leaves us here.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One little hour, and then away.
The year, whose hopes were high and strong,
Has now no hopes to wake;
Yet one hour more of jest and song
For his familiar sake.
Oh stay, oh stay,
One mirthful hour, and then away.
The kindly year, his liberal hands
Have lavished all his store.
And shall we turn from where he stand,
Because he gives no more?
Oh stay, oh stay,
One grateful hour, and then away.
Days brightly came and calmly went,
While yet he was our guest;
How cheerfully the week was spent!
How sweet the seventh day's rest!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One golden hour, and then away.
Dear friends were with us, some who sleep
Beneath the coffin-lid:
What pleasant memories we keep
Of all they said and did!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One tender hour, and then away.
Even while we sing, he smiles his last,
And leaves our sphere behind.
The good old year is with the past;
Oh be the new as kind!
Oh stay, oh stay,
One parting strain, and then away.

The Death Of Slavery

O Thou great Wrong, that, through the slow-paced year,
Didst hold thy millions fettered, and didst wield
The scourge that drove the laborer to the field,
And turn a stony gaze on human tears,
Thy cruel reign is o'er;
Thy bondmen crouch no more
In terror at the menace of thine eye;
For He who marks the bounds of guilty power,
Long-suffering, hath heard the captive's cry,
And touched his shackles at the appointed hour,
And lo! they fall, and he whose limbs they galled
Stands in his native manhood, disenthralled.
A shout of joy from the redeemed is sent;
Ten thousand hamlets swell the hymn of thanks;
Our rivers roll eulting, and their banks
Send up hosannas to the firmament !
Fields where the bondman's toil
No more shall trench the soil,
Seem now to bask in a serener day;
The meadow-birds sing sweeter, and the airs
Of heaven with more caressing softness play,
Welcoming man to liberty like theirs.
A glory clothes the land from sea to sea,
For the great land and all its coasts are free.
Within that land wert thou enthroned of late,
And they by whom the nation's laws were made,
And they who filled its judgment-seats obeyed
Thy mandate, rigid as the will of Fate.
Fierce men at thy right hand,
With gesture of command,
Gave forth the word that none might dare gainsay;
And grave and reverend ones, who loved thee not,
Shrank from thy presence, and in blank dismay
Choked down, unuttered, the rebellious thought;
While meaner cowards, mingling with thy train,
Proved, from the book of God, thy right to reign.
Great as thou wert, and feared from shore to shore,
The wrath of Heaven o'ertook thee in thy pride
Thou sitt'st a ghastly shadow; by thy side
Thy once strong arms hang nerveless evermore.
And they who quailed but now
Before thy lowering brow,
Devote thy memory to scorn and shame,
And scoff at the pale, powerless thing thou art.
And they who ruled in thine imperial name,
Subdued, and standing sullenly apart,
Scowl at the hands that overthrew thy reign,
And shattered at a blow the prisoner's chain.
Well was thy doom deserved; thou didst not spare
Life's tenderest ties, but cruelly didst part
Husband and wife, and from the mother's heart
Didst wrest her children, deaf to shriek and prayer;
Thy inner lair became
The haunt of guilty shame;
Thy lash dropped blood; the murderer, at thy side,
Showed his red hands, nor feared the vengeance due.
Thou didst sow earth with crimes, and, far and wide,
A harvest of uncounted miseries grew,
Until the measure of thy sins at last
Was full, and then the avenging bolt was cast!
Go now, accursed of God, and take thy place
With hateful memories of the elder time,
With many a wasting plague, and nameless crime,
And bloody war that thinned the human race;
With the Black Death, whose way
Through wailing cities lay,
Worhip of Moloch, tyrannies that built
The Pyramids, and cruel creeds that taught
To avenge a fancied guilt by deeper guilt --
Death at the stake to those that held them not.
Lo! the foul phantoms, silent in the gloom
Of the flown ages, part to yield thee room.
I see the better years that hasten by
Carry thee back into that shadowy past,
Where, in the dusty spaces, void and vast,
The graves of those whom thou hast murdered lie.
The slave-pen, through whose door
Thy victims pass no more,
Is there, and there shall the grim block remain
At which the slave was sold; while at thy feet
Scourges and engines of restraint and pain
Moulder and rust by thine eternal seat.
There, mid the symbols that proclaim thy crime,
Dwell thou, a warning to the coming times.

The Wind And Stream

A brook came stealing from the ground
You scarcely saw its silvery gleam
Among the herbs that hung around
The borders of the winding stream,
The pretty stream, the placid stream,
The softly-gliding, bashful stream.
A breeze came wandering from the sky,
Light as the whispers of a dream;
He put the o'erhanging grasses by,
And softly stooped to kiss the stream,
The pretty stream, the flattered stream,
The shy, yet unreluctant stream.
The water, as the wind passed o'er,
Shot upward many a glancing beam,
Dimpled and quivered more and more,
And tripped along, a livelier stream,
The flattered stream, the simpering stream
The fond, delighted, silly stream.
Away the airy wanderer flew
To where the fields with blossoms teem
To sparkling springs and rivers blue,
And left alone that little stream,
The flattered stream, the cheated stream,
The sad, forsaken, lonely stream.
That careless wind came never back;
He wanders yet the fields, I deem,
But, on its melancholy track,
Complaining went that little stream,
The cheated stream, the hopeless stream,
The ever-murmuring, mourning stream.

May Evening

The breath of Spring-time at this twilight hour
Comes through the gathering glooms,
And bears the stolen sweets of many a flower
Into my silent rooms.
Where hast thou wandered, gentle gale, to find
The perfumes thou dost bring?
By brooks, that through the wakening meadows wind,
Or brink of rushy spring?
Or woodside, where, in little companies,
The early wild-flowers rise,
Or sheltered lawn, where, mid encircling trees,
May's warmest sunshine lies?
Now sleeps the humming-bird, that, in the sun,
Wandered from bloom to bloom;
Now, too, the weary bee, his day's work done,
Rests in his waxen room.
Now every hovering insect to his place
Beneath the leaves hath flown;
And, through the long night hours, the flowery race
Are left to thee alone.
O'er the pale blossoms of the sassafras
And o'er the spice-bush spray,
Among the opening buds, thy breathings pass,
And come embalmed away.
Yet there is sadness in thy soft caress,
Wind of the blooming year!
The gentle presence, that was wont to bless
Thy coming, is not here.
Go, then; and yet I bid thee not repair,
Thy gathered sweets to shed,
Where pine and willow, in the evening air,
Sigh o'er the buried dead.
Pass on to homes where cheerful voices sound,
And cheerful looks are cast,
And where thou wakest, in thine airy round,
No sorrow of the past.
Refresh the languid student pausing o'er
The learned page apart,
And he shall turn to con his task once more
With an encouraged heart.
Bear thou a promise, from the fragrant sward
To him who tills the land,
Of springing harvests that shall yet reward
The labors of his hand.
And whisper, everywhere, that Earth renews
Her beautiful array,
Amid the darkness and the gathering dews,
For the return of day.