Poetical Works of William Cullen Bryant - Household Edition
by William Cullen Bryant
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I look again—a hunter's lodge is built, With poles and boughs, beside thy crystal well, While the meek autumn stains the woods with gold, And sheds his golden sunshine. To the door The red-man slowly drags the enormous bear Slain in the chestnut-thicket, or flings down The deer from his strong shoulders. Shaggy fells Of wolf and cougar hang upon the walls, And loud the black-eyed Indian maidens laugh, That gather, from the rustling heaps of leaves, The hickory's white nuts, and the dark fruit That falls from the gray butternut's long boughs.

So centuries passed by, and still the woods Blossomed in spring, and reddened when the year Grew chill, and glistened in the frozen rains Of winter, till the white man swung the axe Beside thee—signal of a mighty change. Then all around was heard the crash of trees, Trembling awhile and rushing to the ground, The low of ox, and shouts of men who fired The brushwood, or who tore the earth with ploughs; The grain sprang thick and tall, and hid in green The blackened hill-side; ranks of spiky maize Rose like a host embattled; the buckwheat Whitened broad acres, sweetening with its flowers The August wind. White cottages were seen With rose-trees at the windows; barns from which Came loud and shrill the crowing of the cock; Pastures where rolled and neighed the lordly horse, And white flocks browsed and bleated. A rich turf Of grasses brought from far o'ercrept thy bank, Spotted with the white clover. Blue-eyed girls Brought pails, and dipped them in thy crystal pool; And children, ruddy-cheeked and flaxen-haired, Gathered the glistening cowslip from thy edge.

Since then, what steps have trod thy border! Here On thy green bank, the woodman of the swamp Has laid his axe, the reaper of the hill His sickle, as they stooped to taste thy stream. The sportsman, tired with wandering in the still September noon, has bathed his heated brow In thy cool current. Shouting boys, let loose For a wild holiday, have quaintly shaped Into a cup the folded linden-leaf, And dipped thy sliding crystal. From the wars Returning, the plumed soldier by thy side Has sat, and mused how pleasant 'twere to dwell In such a spot, and be as free as thou, And move for no man's bidding more. At eve When thou wert crimson with the crimson sky, Lovers have gazed upon thee, and have thought Their mingled lives should flow as peacefully And brightly as thy waters. Here the sage, Gazing into thy self-replenished depth, Has seen eternal order circumscribe And bound the motions of eternal change, And from the gushing of thy simple fount Has reasoned to the mighty universe.

Is there no other change for thee, that lurks Among the future ages? Will not man Seek out strange arts to wither and deform The pleasant landscape which thou makest green? Or shall the veins that feed thy constant stream Be choked in middle earth, and flow no more For ever, that the water-plants along Thy channel perish, and the bird in vain Alight to drink? Haply shall these green hills Sink, with the lapse of years, into the gulf Of ocean waters, and thy source be lost Amidst the bitter brine? Or shall they rise, Upheaved in broken cliffs and airy peaks, Haunts of the eagle and the snake, and thou Gush midway from the bare and barren steep?



Ye winds, ye unseen currents of the air, Softly ye played a few brief hours ago; Ye bore the murmuring bee; ye tossed the air O'er maiden cheeks, that took a fresher glow; Ye rolled the round white cloud through depths of blue; Ye shook from shaded flowers the lingering dew; Before you the catalpa's blossoms flew, Light blossoms, dropping on the grass like snow.


What change is this! Ye take the cataract's sound; Ye take the whirlpool's fury and its might; The mountain shudders as ye sweep the ground; The valley woods lie prone beneath your flight. The clouds before you shoot like eagles past; The homes of men are rocking in your blast; Ye lift the roofs like autumn leaves, and cast, Skyward, the whirling fragments out of sight.


The weary fowls of heaven make wing in vain, To escape your wrath; ye seize and dash them dead; Against the earth ye drive the roaring rain; The harvest-field becomes a river's bed; And torrents tumble from the hills around, Plains turn to lakes, and villages are drowned, And wailing voices, midst the tempest's sound, Rise, as the rushing waters swell and spread.


Ye dart upon the deep, and straight is heard A wilder roar, and men grow pale, and pray; Ye fling its floods around you, as a bird Flings o'er his shivering plumes the fountain's spray. See! to the breaking mast the sailor clings; Ye scoop the ocean to its briny springs, And take the mountain-billow on your wings, And pile the wreck of navies round the bay.


Why rage ye thus?—no strife for liberty Has made you mad; no tyrant, strong through fear, Has chained your pinions till ye wrenched them free, And rushed into the unmeasured atmosphere; For ye were born in freedom where ye blow; Free o'er the mighty deep to come and go; Earth's solemn woods were yours, her wastes of snow, Her isles where summer blossoms all the year.


O ye wild winds! a mightier Power than yours In chains upon the shore of Europe lies; The sceptred throng whose fetters he endures Watch his mute throes with terror in their eyes; And armed warriors all around him stand, And, as he struggles, tighten every band, And lift the heavy spear, with threatening hand, To pierce the victim, should he strive to rise.


Yet oh, when that wronged Spirit of our race Shall break, as soon he must, his long-worn chains, And leap in freedom from his prison-place, Lord of his ancient hills and fruitful plains, Let him not rise, like these mad winds of air, To waste the loveliness that time could spare, To fill the earth with woe, and blot her fair Unconscious breast with blood from human veins.


But may he like the spring-time come abroad, Who crumbles winter's gyves with gentle might, When in the genial breeze, the breath of God, The unsealed springs come spouting up to light; Flowers start from their dark prisons at his feet, The woods, long dumb, awake to hymnings sweet, And morn and eve, whose glimmerings almost meet, Crowd back to narrow bounds the ancient night


Among our hills and valleys, I have known Wise and grave men, who, while their diligent hands Tended or gathered in the fruits of earth, Were reverent learners in the solemn school Of Nature. Not in vain to them were sent Seed-time and harvest, or the vernal shower That darkened the brown tilth, or snow that beat On the white winter hills. Each brought, in turn, Some truth, some lesson on the life of man, Or recognition of the Eternal mind Who veils his glory with the elements.

One such I knew long since, a white-haired man, Pithy of speech, and merry when he would; A genial optimist, who daily drew From what he saw his quaint moralities. Kindly he held communion, though so old, With me a dreaming boy, and taught me much That books tell not, and I shall ne'er forget.

The sun of May was bright in middle heaven, And steeped the sprouting forests, the green hills, And emerald wheat-fields, in his yellow light. Upon the apple-tree, where rosy buds Stood clustered, ready to burst forth in bloom, The robin warbled forth his full clear note For hours, and wearied not. Within the woods, Whose young and half transparent leaves scarce cast A shade, gay circles of anemones Danced on their stalks; the shad-bush, white with flowers, Brightened the glens; the new-leaved butternut And quivering poplar to the roving breeze Gave a balsamic fragrance. In the fields I saw the pulses of the gentle wind On the young grass. My heart was touched with joy At so much beauty, flushing every hour Into a fuller beauty; but my friend, The thoughtful ancient, standing at my side, Gazed on it mildly sad. I asked him why.

"Well mayst thou join in gladness," he replied, "With the glad earth, her springing plants and flowers, And this soft wind, the herald of the green Luxuriant summer. Thou art young like them, And well mayst thou rejoice. But while the flight Of seasons fills and knits thy spreading frame, It withers mine, and thins my hair, and dims These eyes, whose fading light shall soon be quenched In utter darkness. Hearest thou that bird?"

I listened, and from midst the depth of woods Heard the love-signal of the grouse, that wears A sable ruff around his mottled neck; Partridge they call him by our northern streams, And pheasant by the Delaware. He beat His barred sides with his speckled wings, and made A sound like distant thunder; slow the strokes At first, then fast and faster, till at length They passed into a murmur and were still.

"There hast thou," said my friend, "a fitting type Of human life. 'Tis an old truth, I know, But images like these revive the power Of long familiar truths. Slow pass our days In childhood, and the hours of light are long Betwixt the morn and eve; with swifter lapse They glide in manhood, and in age they fly; Till days and seasons flit before the mind As flit the snow-flakes in a winter storm, Seen rather than distinguished. Ah! I seem As if I sat within a helpless bark, By swiftly-running waters hurried on To shoot some mighty cliff. Along the banks Grove after grove, rock after frowning rock, Bare sands and pleasant homes, and flowery nooks, And isles and whirlpools in the stream, appear Each after each, but the devoted skiff Darts by so swiftly that their images Dwell not upon the mind, or only dwell In dim confusion; faster yet I sweep By other banks, and the great gulf is near.

"Wisely, my son, while yet thy days are long, And this fair change of seasons passes slow, Gather and treasure up the good they yield— All that they teach of virtue, of pure thoughts And kind affections, reverence for thy God And for thy brethren; so when thou shalt come Into these barren years, thou mayst not bring A mind unfurnished and a withered heart."

Long since that white-haired ancient slept—but still, When the red flower-buds crowd the orchard-bough, And the ruffed grouse is drumming far within The woods, his venerable form again Is at my side, his voice is in my ear.


The earth may ring, from shore to shore, With echoes of a glorious name, But he, whose loss our tears deplore, Has left behind him more than fame.

For when the death-frost came to lie On Leggett's warm and mighty heart, And quench his bold and friendly eye, His spirit did not all depart.

The words of fire that from his pen Were flung upon the fervid page, Still move, still shake the hearts of men, Amid a cold and coward age.

His love of truth, too warm, too strong For Hope or Fear to chain or chill, His hate of tyranny and wrong, Burn in the breasts he kindled still.


The summer day is closed—the sun is set: Well they have done their office, those bright hours, The latest of whose train goes softly out In the red west. The green blade of the ground Has risen, and herds have cropped it; the young twig Has spread its plaited tissues to the sun; Flowers of the garden and the waste have blown And withered; seeds have fallen upon the soil, From bursting cells, and in their graves await Their resurrection. Insects from the pools Have filled the air awhile with humming wings, That now are still for ever; painted moths Have wandered the blue sky, and died again; The mother-bird hath broken for her brood Their prison shell, or shoved them from the nest, Plumed for their earliest flight. In bright alcoves, In woodland cottages with barky walls, In noisome cells of the tumultuous town, Mothers have clasped with joy the new-born babe. Graves by the lonely forest, by the shore Of rivers and of ocean, by the ways Of the thronged city, have been hollowed out And filled, and closed. This day hath parted friends That ne'er before were parted; it hath knit New friendships; it hath seen the maiden plight Her faith, and trust her peace to him who long Had wooed; and it hath heard, from lips which late Were eloquent of love, the first harsh word, That told the wedded one her peace was flown. Farewell to the sweet sunshine! One glad day Is added now to Childhood's merry days, And one calm day to those of quiet Age. Still the fleet hours run on; and as I lean, Amid the thickening darkness, lamps are lit, By those who watch the dead, and those who twine Flowers for the bride. The mother from the eyes Of her sick infant shades the painful light, And sadly listens to his quick-drawn breath.

O thou great Movement of the Universe, Or Change, or Flight of Time—for ye are one! That bearest, silently, this visible scene Into night's shadow and the streaming rays Of starlight, whither art thou bearing me? I feel the mighty current sweep me on, Yet know not whither. Man foretells afar The courses of the stars; the very hour He knows when they shall darken or grow bright; Yet doth the eclipse of Sorrow and of Death Come unforewarned. Who next, of those I love, Shall pass from life, or, sadder yet, shall fall From virtue? Strife with foes, or bitterer strife With friends, or shame and general scorn of men— Which who can bear?—or the fierce rack of pain— Lie within my path? Or shall the years Push me, with soft and inoffensive pace, Into the stilly twilight of my age? Or do the portals of another life Even now, while I am glorying in my strength, Impend around me? Oh! beyond that bourne, In the vast cycle of being which begins At that dread threshold, with what fairer forms Shall the great law of change and progress clothe Its workings? Gently—so have good men taught— Gently, and without grief, the old shall glide Into the new; the eternal flow of things, Like a bright river of the fields of heaven, Shall journey onward in perpetual peace.


The fresh savannas of the Sangamon Here rise in gentle swells, and the long grass Is mixed with rustling hazels. Scarlet tufts Are glowing in the green, like flakes of fire; The wanderers of the prairie know them well, And call that brilliant flower the Painted Cup.

Now, if thou art a poet, tell me not That these bright chalices were tinted thus To hold the dew for fairies, when they meet On moonlight evenings in the hazel-bowers, And dance till they are thirsty. Call not up, Amid this fresh and virgin solitude, The faded fancies of an elder world; But leave these scarlet cups to spotted moths Of June, and glistening flies, and humming-birds, To drink from, when on all these boundless lawns The morning sun looks hot. Or let the wind O'erturn in sport their ruddy brims, and pour A sudden shower upon the strawberry-plant, To swell the reddening fruit that even now Breathes a slight fragrance from the sunny slope.

But thou art of a gayer fancy. Well— Let then the gentle Manitou of flowers, Lingering amid the bloomy waste he loves, Though all his swarthy worshippers are gone— Slender and small, his rounded cheek all brown And ruddy with the sunshine; let him come On summer mornings, when the blossoms wake, And part with little hands the spiky grass, And touching, with his cherry lips, the edge Of these bright beakers, drain the gathered dew.


I had a dream—a strange, wild dream— Said a dear voice at early light; And even yet its shadows seem To linger in my waking sight.

Earth, green with spring, and fresh with dew, And bright with morn, before me stood; And airs just wakened softly blew On the young blossoms of the wood.

Birds sang within the sprouting shade, Bees hummed amid the whispering grass, And children prattled as they played Beside the rivulet's dimpling glass.

Fast climbed the sun: the flowers were flown, There played no children in the glen; For some were gone, and some were grown To blooming dames and bearded men.

'Twas noon, 'twas summer: I beheld Woods darkening in the flush of day, And that bright rivulet spread and swelled, A mighty stream, with creek and bay.

And here was love, and there was strife, And mirthful shouts, and wrathful cries, And strong men, struggling as for life, With knotted limbs and angry eyes.

Now stooped the sun—the shades grew thin; The rustling paths were piled with leaves, And sunburnt groups were gathering in, From the shorn field, its fruits and sheaves.

The river heaved with sullen sounds; The chilly wind was sad with moans; Black hearses passed, and burial-grounds Grew thick with monumental stones.

Still waned the day; the wind that chased The jagged clouds blew chiller yet; The woods were stripped, the fields were waste; The wintry sun was near his set.

And of the young, and strong, and fair, A lonely remnant, gray and weak, Lingered, and shivered to the air Of that bleak shore and water bleak.

Ah! age is drear, and death is cold! I turned to thee, for thou wert near, And saw thee withered, bowed, and old, And woke all faint with sudden fear.

'Twas thus I heard the dreamer say, And bade her clear her clouded brow; "For thou and I, since childhood's day, Have walked in such a dream till now.

"Watch we in calmness, as they rise, The changes of that rapid dream, And note its lessons, till our eyes Shall open in the morning beam."


Here are old trees, tall oaks, and gnarled pines, That stream with gray-green mosses; here the ground Was never trenched by spade, and flowers spring up Unsown, and die ungathered. It is sweet To linger here, among the flitting birds And leaping squirrels, wandering brooks, and winds That shake the leaves, and scatter, as they pass, A fragrance from the cedars, thickly set With pale-blue berries. In these peaceful shades— Peaceful, unpruned, immeasurably old— My thoughts go up the long dim path of years, Back to the earliest days of liberty.

O FREEDOM! thou art not, as poets dream, A fair young girl, with light and delicate limbs, And wavy tresses gushing from the cap With which the Roman master crowned his slave When he took off the gyves. A bearded man, Armed to the teeth, art thou; one mailed hand Grasps the broad shield, and one the sword; thy brow, Glorious in beauty though it be, is scarred With tokens of old wars; thy massive limbs Are strong with struggling. Power at thee has launched His bolts, and with his lightnings smitten thee; They could not quench the life thou hast from heaven; Merciless Power has dug thy dungeon deep, And his swart armorers, by a thousand fires, Have forged thy chain; yet, while he deems thee bound, The links are shivered, and the prison-walls Fall outward; terribly thou springest forth, As springs the flame above a burning pile, And shoutest to the nations, who return Thy shoutings, while the pale oppressor flies.

Thy birthright was not given by human hands: Thou wert twin-born with man. In pleasant fields, While yet our race was few, thou sat'st with him, To tend the quiet flock and watch the stars, And teach the reed to utter simple airs. Thou by his side, amid the tangled wood, Didst war upon the panther and the wolf, His only foes; and thou with him didst draw The earliest furrow on the mountain-side, Soft with the deluge. Tyranny himself, Thy enemy, although of reverend look, Hoary with many years, and far obeyed, Is later born than thou; and as he meets The grave defiance of thine elder eye, The usurper trembles in his fastnesses.

Thou shalt wax stronger with the lapse of years But he shall fade into a feebler age— Feebler, yet subtler. He shall weave his snares And spring them on thy careless steps, and clap His withered hands, and from their ambush call His hordes to fall upon thee. He shall send Quaint maskers, wearing fair and gallant forms To catch thy gaze, and uttering graceful words To charm thy ear; while his sly imps, by stealth, Twine round thee threads of steel, light thread on thread That grow to fetters; or bind down thy arms With chains concealed in chaplets. Oh! not yet Mayst thou unbrace thy corslet, nor lay by Thy sword; nor yet, O Freedom! close thy lids In slumber; for thine enemy never sleeps, And thou must watch and combat till the day Of the new earth and heaven. But wouldst thou rest Awhile from tumult and the frauds of men, These old and friendly solitudes invite Thy visit. They, while yet the forest-trees Were young upon the unviolated earth, And yet the moss-stains on the rock were new, Beheld thy glorious childhood, and rejoiced.


Seven long years has the desert rain Dropped on the clods that hide thy face; Seven long years of sorrow and pain I have thought of thy burial-place;

Thought of thy fate in the distant West, Dying with none that loved thee near, They who flung the earth on thy breast Turned from the spot without a tear.

There, I think, on that lonely grave, Violets spring in the soft May shower; There, in the summer breezes, wave Crimson phlox and moccasin-flower.

There the turtles alight, and there Feeds with her fawn the timid doe; There, when the winter woods are bare, Walks the wolf on the crackling snow.

Soon wilt thou wipe my tears away; All my task upon earth is done; My poor father, old and gray, Slumbers beneath the churchyard stone.

In the dreams of my lonely bed, Ever thy form before me seems, All night long I talk with the dead, All day long I think of my dreams.

This deep wound that bleeds and aches, This long pain, a sleepless pain— When the Father my spirit takes, I shall feel it no more again.


My friend, thou sorrowest for thy golden prime, For thy fair youthful years too swift of flight; Thou musest, with wet eyes, upon the time Of cheerful hopes that filled the world with light—

Years when thy heart was bold, thy hand was strong, And quick the thought that moved thy tongue to speak, And willing faith was thine, and scorn of wrong Summoned the sudden crimson to thy cheek.

Thou lookest forward on the coming days, Shuddering to feel their shadow o'er thee creep; A path, thick-set with changes and decays, Slopes downward to the place of common sleep; And they who walked with thee in life's first stage, Leave one by one thy side, and, waiting near, Thou seest the sad companions of thy age— Dull love of rest, and weariness and fear.

Yet grieve thou not, nor think thy youth is gone, Nor deem that glorious season e'er could die. Thy pleasant youth, a little while withdrawn, Waits on the horizon of a brighter sky; Waits, like the morn, that folds her wings and hides Till the slow stars bring back her dawning hour; Waits, like the vanished spring, that slumbering bides Her own sweet time to waken bud and flower.

There shall he welcome thee, when thou shalt stand On his bright morning hills, with smiles more sweet Than when at first he took thee by the hand, Through the fair earth to lead thy tender feet. He shall bring back, but brighter, broader still, Life's early glory to thine eyes again, Shall clothe thy spirit with new strength, and fill Thy leaping heart with warmer love than then.

Hast thou not glimpses, in the twilight here, Of mountains where immortal morn prevails? Comes there not, through the silence, to thine ear A gentle rustling of the morning gales; A murmur, wafted from that glorious shore, Of streams that water banks forever fair, And voices of the loved ones gone before, More musical in that celestial air?


The sea is mighty, but a mightier sways His restless billows. Thou, whose hands have scooped His boundless gulfs and built his shore, thy breath, That moved in the beginning o'er his face, Moves o'er it evermore. The obedient waves To its strong motion roll, and rise and fall. Still from that realm of rain thy cloud goes up, As at the first, to water the great earth, And keep her valleys green. A hundred realms Watch its broad shadow warping on the wind, And in the dropping shower, with gladness hear Thy promise of the harvest. I look forth Over the boundless blue, where joyously The bright crests of innumerable waves Glance to the sun at once, as when the hands Of a great multitude are upward flung In acclamation. I behold the ships Gliding from cape to cape, from isle to isle, Or stemming toward far lands, or hastening home From the Old World. It is thy friendly breeze That bears them, with the riches of the land, And treasure of dear lives, till, in the port, The shouting seaman climbs and furls the sail.

But who shall bide thy tempest, who shall face The blast that wakes the fury of the sea? O God! thy justice makes the world turn pale, When on the armed fleet, that royally Bears down the surges, carrying war, to smite Some city, or invade some thoughtless realm, Descends the fierce tornado. The vast hulks Are whirled like chaff upon the waves; the sails Fly, rent like webs of gossamer; the masts Are snapped asunder; downward from the decks, Downward are slung, into the fathomless gulf, Their cruel engines; and their hosts, arrayed In trappings of the battle-field, are whelmed By whirlpools, or dashed dead upon the rocks. Then stand the nations still with awe, and pause A moment, from the bloody work of war.

These restless surges eat away the shores Of earth's old continents; the fertile plain Welters in shallows, headlands crumble down, And the tide drifts the sea-sand in the streets Of the drowned city. Thou, meanwhile, afar In the green chambers of the middle sea, Where broadest spread the waters and the line Sinks deepest, while no eye beholds thy work, Creator! thou dost teach the coral-worm To lay his mighty reefs. From age to age, He builds beneath the waters, till, at last, His bulwarks overtop the brine, and check The long wave rolling from the southern pole To break upon Japan. Thou bidd'st the fires, That smoulder under ocean, heave on high The new-made mountains, and uplift their peaks, A place of refuge for the storm-driven bird. The birds and wafting billows plant the rifts With herb and tree; sweet fountains gush; sweet airs Ripple the living lakes that, fringed with flowers, Are gathered in the hollows. Thou dost look On thy creation and pronounce it good. Its valleys, glorious in their summer green, Praise thee in silent beauty, and its woods, Swept by the murmuring winds of ocean, join The murmuring shores in a perpetual hymn.



'Tis noon. At noon the Hebrew bowed the knee And worshipped, while the husbandmen withdrew From the scorched field, and the wayfaring man Grew faint, and turned aside by bubbling fount, Or rested in the shadow of the palm.

I, too, amid the overflow of day, Behold the power which wields and cherishes The frame of Nature. From this brow of rock That overlooks the Hudson's western marge, I gaze upon the long array of groves, The piles and gulfs of verdure drinking in The grateful heats. They love the fiery sun; Their broadening leaves grow glossier, and their sprays Climb as he looks upon them. In the midst, The swelling river, into his green gulfs, Unshadowed save by passing sails above, Takes the redundant glory, and enjoys The summer in his chilly bed. Coy flowers, That would not open in the early light, Push back their plaited sheaths. The rivulet's pool, That darkly quivered all the morning long In the cool shade, now glimmers in the sun; And o'er its surface shoots, and shoots again, The glittering dragon-fly, and deep within Run the brown water-beetles to and fro.

A silence, the brief sabbath of an hour, Reigns o'er the fields; the laborer sits within His dwelling; he has left his steers awhile, Unyoked, to bite the herbage, and his dog Sleeps stretched beside the door-stone in the shade. Now the gray marmot, with uplifted paws, No more sits listening by his den, but steals Abroad, in safety, to the clover-field, And crops its juicy blossoms. All the while A ceaseless murmur from the populous town Swells o'er these solitudes: a mingled sound Of jarring wheels, and iron hoofs that clash Upon the stony ways, and hammer-clang, And creak of engines lifting ponderous bulks, And calls and cries, and tread of eager feet, Innumerable, hurrying to and fro. Noon, in that mighty mart of nations, brings No pause to toil and care. With early day Began the tumult, and shall only cease When midnight, hushing one by one the sounds Of bustle, gathers the tired brood to rest.

Thus, in this feverish time, when love of gain And luxury possess the hearts of men, Thus is it with the noon of human life. We, in our fervid manhood, in our strength Of reason, we, with hurry, noise, and care, Plan, toil, and strive, and pause not to refresh Our spirits with the calm and beautiful Of God's harmonious universe, that won Our youthful wonder; pause not to inquire Why we are here; and what the reverence Man owes to man, and what the mystery That links us to the greater world, beside Whose borders we but hover for a space.


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! The mild, the fierce, the stony face; Some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some Where secret tears have left their trace.

They pass—to toil, to strife, to rest; To halls in which the feast is spread; 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 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! 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? 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, 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.


It was a hundred years ago, When, by the woodland ways, The traveller saw the wild-deer drink, Or crop the birchen sprays.

Beneath a hill, whose rocky side O'erbrowed a grassy mead, And fenced a cottage from the wind, A deer was wont to feed.

She only came when on the cliffs The evening moonlight lay, And no man knew the secret haunts In which she walked by day.

White were her feet, her forehead showed A spot of silvery white, That seemed to glimmer like a star In autumn's hazy night.

And here, when sang the whippoorwill, She cropped the sprouting leaves, And here her rustling steps were heard On still October eves.

But when the broad midsummer moon Rose o'er that grassy lawn, Beside the silver-footed deer There grazed a spotted fawn.

The cottage dame forbade her son To aim the rifle here; "It were a sin," she said, "to harm Or fright that friendly deer.

"This spot has been my pleasant home Ten peaceful years and more; And ever, when the moonlight shines, She feeds before our door.

"The red-men say that here she walked A thousand moons ago; They never raise the war-whoop here, And never twang the bow.

"I love to watch her as she feeds, And think that all is well While such a gentle creature haunts The place in which we dwell."

The youth obeyed, and sought for game In forests far away, Where, deep in silence and in moss, The ancient woodland lay.

But once, in autumn's golden time He ranged the wild in vain, Nor roused the pheasant nor the deer, And wandered home again.

The crescent moon and crimson eve Shone with a mingling light; The deer, upon the grassy mead, Was feeding full in sight.

He raised the rifle to his eye, And from the cliffs around A sudden echo, shrill and sharp, Gave back its deadly sound.

Away, into the neighboring wood, The startled creature flew, And crimson drops at morning lay Amid the glimmering dew.

Next evening shone the waxing moon As brightly as before; The deer upon the grassy mead Was seen again no more.

But ere that crescent moon was old, By night the red-men came, And burnt the cottage to the ground, And slew the youth and dame.

Now woods have overgrown the mead, And hid the cliffs from sight; There shrieks the hovering hawk at noon, And prowls the fox at night.


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.


Oh silvery streamlet of the fields, That flowest full and free, For thee the rains of spring return, The summer dews for thee; And when thy latest blossoms die In autumn's chilly showers, The winter fountains gush for thee, Till May brings back the flowers.

Oh Stream of Life! the violet springs But once beside thy bed; But one brief summer, on thy path, The dews of heaven are shed. Thy parent fountains shrink away, And close their crystal veins, And where thy glittering current flowed The dust alone remains.


A burning sky is o'er me, The sands beneath me glow, As onward, onward, wearily, In the sultry morn I go.

From the dusty path there opens, Eastward, an unknown way; Above its windings, pleasantly, The woodland branches play.

A silvery brook comes stealing From the shadow of its trees, Where slender herbs of the forest stoop Before the entering breeze.

Along those pleasant windings I would my journey lay, Where the shade is cool and the dew of night Is not yet dried away.

Path of the flowery woodland! Oh whither dost thou lead, Wandering by grassy orchard-grounds, Or by the open mead?

Goest thou by nestling cottage? Goest thou by stately hall, Where the broad elm droops, a leafy dome, And woodbines flaunt on the wall?

By steeps where children gather Flowers of the yet fresh year? By lonely walks where lovers stray Till the tender stars appear?

Or haply dost thou linger On barren plains and bare, Or clamber the bald mountain-side Into the thinner air?—

Where they who journey upward Walk in a weary track, And oft upon the shady vale With longing eyes look back?

I hear a solemn murmur, And, listening to the sound, I know the voice of the mighty Sea, Beating his pebbly bound.

Dost thou, oh path of the woodland! End where those waters roar, Like human life, on a trackless beach, With a boundless Sea before?


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 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—the wild-deer's rustling feet Within thy woods are not more fleet; Thy hopeful eye Is bright as thine own sunny sky.

Ay, let them rail—those haughty ones, While safe thou dwellest with thy sons. They do not know how loved thou art, 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; 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 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.

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, 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, 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, Would brand thy name with words of scorn, Before thine eye, Upon their lips the taunt shall die.


A mighty realm is the Land of Dreams, With steeps that hang in the twilight sky, And weltering oceans and trailing streams, That gleam where the dusky valleys lie.

But over its shadowy border flow Sweet rays from the world of endless morn, And the nearer mountains catch the glow, And flowers in the nearer fields are born.

The souls of the happy dead repair, From their bowers of light, to that bordering land, And walk in the fainter glory there, With the souls of the living hand in hand.

One calm sweet smile, in that shadowy sphere, From eyes that open on earth no more— One warning word from a voice once dear— How they rise in the memory o'er and o'er!

Far off from those hills that shine with day, And fields that bloom in the heavenly gales The Land of Dreams goes stretching away To dimmer mountains and darker vales.

There lie the chambers of guilty delight, There walk the spectres of guilty fear, And soft low voices, that float through the night, Are whispering sin in the helpless ear.

Dear maid, in thy girlhood's opening flower, Scarce weaned from the love of childish play! The tears on whose cheeks are but the shower That freshens the blooms of early May!

Thine eyes are closed, and over thy brow Pass thoughtful shadows and joyous gleams, And I know, by thy moving lips, that now Thy spirit strays in the Land of Dreams.

Light-hearted maiden, oh, heed thy feet! O keep where that beam of Paradise falls: And only wander where thou mayst meet The blessed ones from its shining walls!

So shalt thou come from the Land of Dreams, With love and peace to this world of strife: And the light which over that border streams Shall lie on the path of thy daily life.


Two dark-eyed maids, at shut of day, Sat where a river rolled away, With calm sad brows and raven hair, And one was pale and both were fair.

Bring flowers, they sang, bring flowers unblown, Bring forest-blooms of name unknown; Bring budding sprays from wood and wild, To strew the bier of Love, the child.

Close softly, fondly, while ye weep, His eyes, that death may seem like sleep, And fold his hands in sign of rest, His waxen hands, across his breast.

And make his grave where violets hide, Where star-flowers strew the rivulet's side, And bluebirds in the misty spring Of cloudless skies and summer sing.

Place near him, as ye lay him low, His idle shafts, his loosened bow, The silken fillet that around His waggish eyes in sport he wound.

But we shall mourn him long, and miss His ready smile, his ready kiss, The patter of his little feet, Sweet frowns and stammered phrases sweet;

And graver looks, serene and high, A light of heaven in that young eye, All these shall haunt us till the heart Shall ache and ache—and tears will start.

The bow, the band shall fall to dust, The shining arrows waste with rust, And all of Love that earth can claim, Be but a memory and a name.

Not thus his nobler part shall dwell A prisoner in this narrow cell; But he whom now we hide from men, In the dark ground, shall live again:

Shall break these clods, a form of light, With nobler mien and purer sight, And in the eternal glory stand, Highest and nearest God's right hand.


The May sun sheds an amber light On new-leaved woods and lawns between; But she who, with a smile more bright, Welcomed and watched the springing green, Is in her grave, Low in her grave.

The fair white blossoms of the wood In groups beside the pathway stand; But one, the gentle and the good, Who cropped them with a fairer hand, Is in her grave, Low in her grave.

Upon the woodland's morning airs The small birds' mingled notes are flung; But she, whose voice, more sweet than theirs, Once bade me listen while they sung, Is in her grave, Low in her grave.

That music of the early year Brings tears of anguish to my eyes; My heart aches when the flowers appear; For then I think of her who lies Within her grave, Low in her grave.


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 seek'st 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.


Within this lowly grave a Conqueror lies, And yet the monument proclaims it not, Nor round the sleeper's name hath chisel wrought The emblems of a fame that never dies,— Ivy and amaranth, in a graceful sheaf, Twined with the laurel's fair, imperial leaf. A simple name alone, To the great world unknown, Is graven here, and wild-flowers, rising round, Meek meadow-sweet and violets of the ground, Lean lovingly against the humble stone. Here, in the quiet earth, they laid apart No man of iron mould and bloody hands, Who sought to wreak upon the cowering lands The passions that consumed his restless heart; But one of tender spirit and delicate frame, Gentlest, in mien and mind, Of gentle womankind, Timidly shrinking from the breath of blame: One in whose eyes the smile of kindness made Its haunt, like flowers by sunny brooks in May, Yet at the thought of others' pain, a shade Of sweeter sadness chased the smile away.

Nor deem that when the hand that moulders here Was raised in menace, realms were chilled with fear, And armies mustered at the sign, as when Clouds rise on clouds before the rainy East— Gray captains leading bands of veteran men And fiery youths to be the vulture's feast. Not thus were waged the mighty wars that gave The victory to her who fills this grave: Alone her task was wrought, Alone the battle fought; Through that long strife her constant hope was staid On God alone, nor looked for other aid.

She met the hosts of Sorrow with a look That altered not beneath the frown they wore, And soon the lowering brood were tamed, and took, Meekly, her gentle rule, and frowned no more. Her soft hand put aside the assaults of wrath, And calmly broke in twain The fiery shafts of pain, And rent the nets of passion from her path. By that victorious hand despair was slain. With love she vanquished hate and overcame Evil with good, in her Great Master's name. Her glory is not of this shadowy state, Glory that with the fleeting season dies; But when she entered at the sapphire gate What joy was radiant in celestial eyes! How heaven's bright depths with sounding welcome rung, And flowers of heaven by shining hands were flung! And He who, long before, Pain, scorn, and sorrow bore, The Mighty Sufferer, with aspect sweet, Smiled on the timid stranger from his seat; He who returning, glorious, from the grave, Dragged Death, disarmed, in chains, a crouching slave.

See, as I linger here, the sun grows low; Cool airs are murmuring that the night is near. Oh, gentle sleeper, from thy grave I go Consoled though sad, in hope and yet in fear. Brief is the time, I know, The warfare scarce begun; Yet all may win the triumphs thou hast won. Still flows the fount whose waters strengthened thee, The victors' names are yet too few to fill Heaven's mighty roll; the glorious armory, That ministered to thee, is open still.


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, 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? 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, 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 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, 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, 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, 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, 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.

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; 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 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 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 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 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; 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; 'Tis said he made some quaint old rhymes, On planting the apple-tree."


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 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; 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 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; 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 wings 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; As friend with friend, or husband with wife, Makes hand in hand the passage of life; 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, 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!

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.


These strifes, these tumults of the noisy world, Where Fraud, the coward, tracks his prey by stealth, And Strength, the ruffian, glories in his guilt, Oppress the heart with sadness. Oh, my friend, In what serener mood we look upon The gloomiest aspects of the elements Among the woods and fields! Let us awhile, As the slow wind is rolling up the storm, In fancy leave this maze of dusty streets, Forever shaken by the importunate jar Of commerce, and upon the darkening air Look from the shelter of our rural home. Who is not awed that listens to the Rain, Sending his voice before him? Mighty Rain! The upland steeps are shrouded by thy mists; Thy shadow fills the hollow vale; the pools No longer glimmer, and the silvery streams Darken to veins of lead at thy approach. O mighty Rain! already thou art here; And every roof is beaten by thy streams, And, as thou passest, every glassy spring Grows rough, and every leaf in all the woods Is struck, and quivers. All the hill-tops slake Their thirst from thee; a thousand languishing fields, A thousand fainting gardens, are refreshed; A thousand idle rivulets start to speed, And with the graver murmur of the storm Blend their light voices as they hurry on. Thou fill'st the circle of the atmosphere Alone; there is no living thing abroad, No bird to wing the air nor beast to walk The field; the squirrel in the forest seeks His hollow tree; the marmot of the field Has scampered to his den; the butterfly Hides under her broad leaf; the insect crowds, That made the sunshine populous, lie close In their mysterious shelters, whence the sun Will summon them again. The mighty Rain Holds the vast empire of the sky alone. I shut my eyes, and see, as in a dream, The friendly clouds drop down spring violets And summer columbines, and all the flowers That tuft the woodland floor, or overarch The streamlet:—spiky grass for genial June, Brown harvests for the waiting husbandman, And for the woods a deluge of fresh leaves. I see these myriad drops that slake the dust, Gathered in glorious streams, or rolling blue In billows on the lake or on the deep, And bearing navies. I behold them change To threads of crystal as they sink in earth And leave its stains behind, to rise again In pleasant nooks of verdure, where the child, Thirsty with play, in both his little hands Shall take the cool, clear water, raising it To wet his pretty lips. To-morrow noon How proudly will the water-lily ride The brimming pool, o'erlooking, like a queen, Her circle of broad leaves! In lonely wastes, When next the sunshine makes them beautiful, Gay troops of butterflies shall light to drink At the replenished hollows of the rock. Now slowly falls the dull blank night, and still, All through the starless hours, the mighty Rain Smites with perpetual sound the forest-leaves, And beats the matted grass, and still the earth Drinks the unstinted bounty of the clouds— Drinks for her cottage wells, her woodland brooks— Drinks for the springing trout, the toiling bee, And brooding bird—drinks for her tender flowers, Tall oaks, and all the herbage of her hills. A melancholy sound is in the air, A deep sigh in the distance, a shrill wail Around my dwelling. 'Tis the Wind of night; A lonely wanderer between earth and cloud, In the black shadow and the chilly mist, Along the streaming mountain-side, and through The dripping woods, and o'er the plashy fields, Roaming and sorrowing still, like one who makes The journey of life alone, and nowhere meets A welcome or a friend, and still goes on In darkness. Yet a while, a little while, And he shall toss the glittering leaves in play, And dally with the flowers, and gayly lift The slender herbs, pressed low by weight of rain, And drive, in joyous triumph, through the sky, White clouds, the laggard remnants of the storm.


Merrily swinging on brier and weed, Near to the nest of his little dame, Over the mountain-side or mead, Robert of Lincoln is telling his name: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Snug and safe is that nest of ours, Hidden among the summer flowers. Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln is gayly drest, Wearing a bright black wedding-coat; White are his shoulders and white his crest. Hear him call in his merry note: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Look, what a nice new coat is mine, Sure there was never a bird so fine. Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife, Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings, Passing at home a patient life, Broods in the grass while her husband sings: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Brood, kind creature; you need not fear Thieves and robbers while I am here. Chee, chee, chee.

Modest and shy as a nun is she; One weak chirp is her only note. Braggart and prince of braggarts is he, Pouring boasts from his little throat: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Never was I afraid of man; Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can! Chee, chee, chee.

Six white eggs on a bed of hay, Flecked with purple, a pretty sight! There as the mother sits all day, Robert is singing with all his might: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Nice good wife, that never goes out, Keeping house while I frolic about. Chee, chee, chee.

Soon as the little ones chip the shell, Six wide mouths are open for food; Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well, Gathering seeds for the hungry brood. Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; This new life is likely to be Hard for a gay young fellow like me. Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln at length is made Sober with work, and silent with care; Off is his holiday garment laid, Half forgotten that merry air: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; Nobody knows but my mate and I Where our nest and our nestlings lie. Chee, chee, chee.

Summer wanes; the children are grown; Fun and frolic no more he knows; Robert of Lincoln's a humdrum crone; Off he flies, and we sing as he goes: Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link, Spink, spank, spink; When you can pipe that merry old strain, Robert of Lincoln, come back again. Chee, chee, chee.


Oh, gentle one, thy birthday sun should rise Amid a chorus of the merriest birds That ever sang the stars out of the sky In a June morning. Rivulets should send A voice of gladness from their winding paths, Deep in o'erarching grass, where playful winds, Stirring the loaded stems, should shower the dew Upon the grassy water. Newly-blown Roses, by thousands, to the garden-walks Should tempt the loitering moth and diligent bee. The longest, brightest day in all the year Should be the day on which thy cheerful eyes First opened on the earth, to make thy haunts Fairer and gladder for thy kindly looks. Thus might a poet say; but I must bring A birthday offering of an humbler strain, And yet it may not please thee less. I hold That 'twas the fitting season for thy birth When March, just ready to depart, begins To soften into April. Then we have The delicatest and most welcome flowers, And yet they take least heed of bitter wind And lowering sky. The periwinkle then, In an hour's sunshine, lifts her azure blooms Beside the cottage-door; within the woods Tufts of ground-laurel, creeping underneath The leaves of the last summer, send their sweets Up to the chilly air, and, by the oak, The squirrel-cups, a graceful company, Hide in their bells, a soft aerial blue— Sweet flowers, that nestle in the humblest nooks And yet within whose smallest bud is wrapped A world of promise! Still the north wind breathes His frost, and still the sky sheds snow and sleet; Yet ever, when the sun looks forth again, The flowers smile up to him from their low seats. Well hast thou borne the bleak March day of life. Its storms and its keen winds to thee have been Most kindly tempered, and through all its gloom There has been warmth and sunshine in thy heart; The griefs of life to thee have been like snows, That light upon the fields in early spring, Making them greener. In its milder hours, The smile of this pale season, thou hast seen The glorious bloom of June, and in the note Of early bird, that comes a messenger From climes of endless verdure, thou hast heard The choir that fills the summer woods with song. Now be the hours that yet remain to thee Stormy or sunny, sympathy and love, That inextinguishably dwell within Thy heart, shall give a beauty and a light To the most desolate moments, like the glow Of a bright fireside in the wildest day; And kindly words and offices of good Shall wait upon thy steps, as thou goest on, Where God shall lead thee, till thou reach the gates Of a more genial season, and thy path Be lost to human eye among the bowers And living fountains of a brighter land.

March, 1855.


Already, close by our summer dwelling, The Easter sparrow repeats her song; A merry warbler, she chides the blossoms— The idle blossoms that sleep so long.

The bluebird chants, from the elm's long branches, A hymn to welcome the budding year. The south wind wanders from field to forest, And softly whispers, "The Spring is here."

Come, daughter mine, from the gloomy city, Before those lays from the elm have ceased; The violet breathes, by our door, as sweetly As in the air of her native East.

Though many a flower in the wood is waking, The daffodil is our doorside queen; She pushes upward the sward already, To spot with sunshine the early green.

No lays so joyous as these are warbled From wiry prison in maiden's bower; No pampered bloom of the green-house chamber Has half the charm of the lawn's first flower.

Yet these sweet sounds of the early season, And these fair sights of its sunny days, Are only sweet when we fondly listen, And only fair when we fondly gaze.

There is no glory in star or blossom Till looked upon by a loving eye; There is no fragrance in April breezes Till breathed with joy as they wander by.

Come, Julia dear, for the sprouting willows, The opening flowers, and the gleaming brooks, And hollows, green in the sun, are waiting Their dower of beauty from thy glad looks.


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 stands, 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.


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.



My bird has flown away, Far out of sight has flown, I know not where. Look in your lawn, I pray, Ye maidens, kind and fair, And see if my beloved bird be there.

His eyes are full of light; The eagle of the rock has such an eye; And plumes, exceeding bright, Round his smooth temples lie, And sweet his voice and tender as a sigh.

Look where the grass is gay With summer blossoms, haply there he cowers; And search, from spray to spray, The leafy laurel-bowers, For well he loves the laurels and the flowers.

Find him, but do not dwell, With eyes too fond, on the fair form you see, Nor love his song too well; Send him, at once, to me, Or leave him to the air and liberty.

For only from my hand He takes the seed into his golden beak, And all unwiped shall stand The tears that wet my cheek, Till I have found the wanderer I seek.

My sight is darkened o'er, Whene'er I miss his eyes, which are my day, And when I hear no more The music of his lay, My heart in utter sadness faints away.


Oh River, gentle River! gliding on In silence underneath the starless sky! Thine is a ministry that never rests Even while the living slumber. For a time The meddler, man, hath left the elements In peace; the ploughman breaks the clods no more; The miner labors not, with steel and fire, To rend the rock, and he that hews the stone, And he that fells the forest, he that guides The loaded wain, and the poor animal That drags it, have forgotten, for a time, Their toils, and share the quiet of the earth. Thou pausest not in thine allotted task, Oh darkling River! Through the night I hear Thy wavelets rippling on the pebbly beach; I hear thy current stir the rustling sedge, That skirts thy bed; thou intermittest not Thine everlasting journey, drawing on A silvery train from many a woodland spring And mountain-brook. The dweller by thy side, Who moored his little boat upon thy beach, Though all the waters that upbore it then Have slid away o'er night, shall find, at morn, Thy channel filled with waters freshly drawn From distant cliffs, and hollows where the rill Comes up amid the water-flags. All night Thou givest moisture to the thirsty roots Of the lithe willow and o'erhanging plane, And cherishest the herbage of thy bank, Spotted with little flowers, and sendest up Perpetually the vapors from thy face, To steep the hills with dew, or darken heaven With drifting clouds, that trail the shadowy shower. Oh River! darkling River! what a voice Is that thou utterest while all else is still— The ancient voice that, centuries ago, Sounded between thy hills, while Rome was yet A weedy solitude by Tiber's stream! How many, at this hour, along thy course, Slumber to thine eternal murmurings, That mingle with the utterance of their dreams! At dead of night the child awakes and hears Thy soft, familiar dashings, and is soothed, And sleeps again. An airy multitude Of little echoes, all unheard by day, Faintly repeat, till morning, after thee, The story of thine endless goings forth. Yet there are those who lie beside thy bed For whom thou once didst rear the bowers that screen Thy margin, and didst water the green fields; And now there is no night so still that they Can hear thy lapse; their slumbers, were thy voice Louder than Ocean's, it could never break. For them the early violet no more Opens upon thy bank, nor, for their eyes, Glitter the crimson pictures of the clouds, Upon thy bosom, when the sun goes down. Their memories are abroad, the memories Of those who last were gathered to the earth, Lingering within the homes in which they sat, Hovering above the paths in which they walked, Haunting them like a presence. Even now They visit many a dreamer in the forms They walked in, ere at last they wore the shroud. And eyes there are which will not close to dream, For weeping and for thinking of the grave, The new-made grave, and the pale one within. These memories and these sorrows all shall fade, And pass away, and fresher memories And newer sorrows come and dwell awhile Beside thy borders, and, in turn, depart. On glide thy waters, till at last they flow Beneath the windows of the populous town, And all night long give back the gleam of lamps, And glimmer with the trains of light that stream From halls where dancers whirl. A dimmer ray Touches thy surface from the silent room In which they tend the sick, or gather round The dying; and a slender, steady beam Comes from the little chamber, in the roof Where, with a feverous crimson on her cheek, The solitary damsel, dying, too, Plies the quick needle till the stars grow pale. There, close beside the haunts of revel, stand The blank, unlighted windows, where the poor, In hunger and in darkness, wake till morn. There, drowsily, on the half-conscious ear Of the dull watchman, pacing on the wharf, Falls the soft ripple of the waves that strike On the moored bark; but guiltier listeners Are nigh, the prowlers of the night, who steal From shadowy nook to shadowy nook, and start If other sounds than thine are in the air. Oh, glide away from those abodes, that bring Pollution to thy channel and make foul Thy once clear current; summon thy quick waves And dimpling eddies; linger not, but haste, With all thy waters, haste thee to the deep, There to be tossed by shifting winds and rocked By that mysterious force which lives within The sea's immensity, and wields the weight Of its abysses, swaying to and fro The billowy mass, until the stain, at length, Shall wholly pass away, and thou regain The crystal brightness of thy mountain-springs.


Thou, who so long hast pressed the couch of pain, Oh welcome, welcome back to life's free breath— To life's free breath and day's sweet light again, From the chill shadows of the gate of death!

For thou hadst reached the twilight bound between The world of spirits and this grosser sphere; Dimly by thee the things of earth were seen, And faintly fell earth's voices on thine ear.

And now, how gladly we behold, at last, The wonted smile returning to thy brow! The very wind's low whisper, breathing past, In the light leaves, is music to thee now.

Thou wert not weary of thy lot; the earth Was ever good and pleasant in thy sight; Still clung thy loves about the household hearth, And sweet was every day's returning light.

Then welcome back to all thou wouldst not leave, To this grand march of seasons, days, and hours; The glory of the morn, the glow of eve, The beauty of the streams, and stars, and flowers;

To eyes on which thine own delight to rest; To voices which it is thy joy to hear; To the kind toils that ever pleased thee best, The willing tasks of love, that made life dear.

Welcome to grasp of friendly hands; to prayers Offered where crowds in reverent worship come, Or softly breathed amid the tender cares And loving inmates of thy quiet home.

Thou bring'st no tidings of the better land, Even from its verge; the mysteries opened there Are what the faithful heart may understand In its still depths, yet words may not declare.

And well I deem, that, from the brighter side Of life's dim border, some o'erflowing rays Streamed from the inner glory, shall abide Upon thy spirit through the coming days.

Twice wert thou given me; once in thy fair prime, Fresh from the fields of youth, when first we met, And all the blossoms of that hopeful time Clustered and glowed where'er thy steps were set.

And now, in thy ripe autumn, once again Given back to fervent prayers and yearnings strong, From the drear realm of sickness and of pain When we had watched, and feared, and trembled long.

Now may we keep thee from the balmy air And radiant walks of heaven a little space, Where He, who went before thee to prepare For His meek followers, shall assign thy place.




These prairies glow with flowers, These groves are tall and fair, The sweet lay of the mocking-bird Rings in the morning air; And yet I pine to see My native hill once more, And hear the sparrow's friendly chirp Beside its cottage-door.

And he, for whom I left My native hill and brook, Alas, I sometimes think I trace A coldness in his look! If I have lost his love, I know my heart will break; And haply, they I left for him Will sorrow for my sake.


Long hast thou watched my bed, And smoothed the pillow oft For this poor, aching head, With touches kind and soft.

Oh! smooth it yet again, As softly as before; Once—only once—and then I need thy hand no more.

Yet here I may not stay, Where I so long have lain, Through many a restless day And many a night of pain.

But bear me gently forth Beneath the open sky, Where, on the pleasant earth, Till night the sunbeams lie.

There, through the coming days, I shall not look to thee My weary side to raise, And shift it tenderly.

There sweetly shall I sleep; Nor wilt thou need to bring And put to my hot lip Cool water from the spring;

Nor wet the kerchief laid Upon my burning brow; Nor from my eyeballs shade The light that wounds them now;

Nor watch that none shall tread, With noisy footstep, nigh; Nor listen by my bed, To hear my faintest sigh,

And feign a look of cheer, And words of comfort speak, Yet turn to hide the tear That gathers on thy cheek.

Beside me, where I rest, Thy loving hands will set The flowers that please me best— Moss-rose and violet.

Then to the sleep I crave Resign me, till I see The face of Him who gave His life for thee and me.

Yet, with the setting sun, Come, now and then, at eve, And think of me as one For whom thou shouldst not grieve;

Who, when the kind release From sin and suffering came, Passed to the appointed peace In murmuring thy name.

Leave at my side a space, Where thou shalt come, at last, To find a resting-place, When many years are past.



The maples redden in the sun; In autumn gold the beeches stand; Rest, faithful plough, thy work is done Upon the teeming land. Bordered with trees whose gay leaves fly On every breath that sweeps the sky, The fresh dark acres furrowed lie, And ask the sower's hand. Loose the tired steer and let him go To pasture where the gentians blow, And we, who till the grateful ground, Fling we the golden shower around.


Fling wide the generous grain; we fling O'er the dark mould the green of spring. For thick the emerald blades shall grow, When first the March winds melt the snow, And to the sleeping flowery below, The early bluebirds sing. Fling wide the grain; we give the fields The ears that nod in summer's gale, The shining stems that summer gilds, The harvest that o'erflows the vale, And swells, an amber sea, between The full-leaved woods, its shores of green. Hark! from the murmuring clods I hear Glad voices of the coming year; The song of him who binds the grain, The shout of those that load the wain, And from the distant grange there comes The clatter of the thresher's flail, And steadily the millstone hums Down in the willowy vale.


Fling wide the golden shower; we trust The strength of armies to the dust. This peaceful lea may haply yield Its harvest for the tented field. Ha! feel ye not your fingers thrill, As o'er them, in the yellow grains, Glide the warm drops of blood that fill, For mortal strife, the warrior's veins; Such as, on Solferino's day, Slaked the brown sand and flowed away— Flowed till the herds, on Mincio's brink, Snuffed the red stream and feared to drink;— Blood that in deeper pools shall lie, On the sad earth, as time grows gray, When men by deadlier arts shall die, And deeper darkness blot the sky Above the thundering fray; And realms, that hear the battle-cry, Shall sicken with dismay; And chieftains to the war shall lead Whole nations, with the tempest's speed, To perish in a day;— Till man, by love and mercy taught, Shall rue the wreck his fury wrought, And lay the sword away! Oh strew, with pausing, shuddering hand, The seed upon the helpless land, As if, at every step, ye cast The pelting hail and riving blast.


Nay, strew, with free and joyous sweep, The seed upon the expecting soil; For hence the plenteous year shall heap The garners of the men who toil. Strew the bright seed for those who tear The matted sward with spade and share, And those whose sounding axes gleam Beside the lonely forest-stream, Till its broad banks lie bare; And him who breaks the quarry-ledge, With hammer-blows, plied quick and strong, And him who, with the steady sledge, Smites the shrill anvil all day long. Sprinkle the furrow's even trace For those whose toiling hands uprear The roof-trees of our swarming race, By grove and plain, by stream and mere; Who forth, from crowded city, lead The lengthening street, and overlay Green orchard-plot and grassy mead With pavement of the murmuring way. Cast, with full hands the harvest cast, For the brave men that climb the mast, When to the billow and the blast It swings and stoops, with fearful strain, And bind the fluttering mainsail fast, Till the tossed bark shall sit, again, Safe as a sea-bird on the main.


Fling wide the grain for those who throw The clanking shuttle to and fro, In the long row of humming rooms, And into ponderous masses wind The web that, from a thousand looms, Comes forth to clothe mankind. Strew, with free sweep, the grain for them, By whom the busy thread Along the garment's even hem And winding seam is led; A pallid sisterhood, that keep The lonely lamp alight, In strife with weariness and sleep, Beyond the middle night. Large part be theirs in what the year Shall ripen for the reaper here.


Still, strew, with joyous hand, the wheat On the soft mould beneath our feet, For even now I seem To hear a sound that lightly rings From murmuring harp and viol's strings, As in a summer dream. The welcome of the wedding-guest, The bridegroom's look of bashful pride, The faint smile of the pallid bride, And bridemaid's blush at matron's jest, And dance and song and generous dower, Are in the shining grains we shower.


Scatter the wheat for shipwrecked men, Who, hunger-worn, rejoice again In the sweet safety of the shore, And wanderers, lost in woodlands drear, Whose pulses bound with joy to hear The herd's light bell once more. Freely the golden spray be shed For him whose heart, when night comes down On the close alleys of the town, Is faint for lack of bread. In chill roof-chambers, bleak and bare, Or the damp cellar's stifling air, She who now sees, in mute despair, Her children pine for food, Shall feel the dews of gladness start To lids long tearless, and shall part The sweet loaf with a grateful heart, Among her thin pale brood. Dear, kindly Earth, whose breast we till! Oh, for thy famished children, fill, Where'er the sower walks, Fill the rich ears that shade the mould With grain for grain, a hundredfold, To bend the sturdy stalks.


Strew silently the fruitful seed, As softly o'er the tilth ye tread, For hands that delicately knead The consecrated bread— The mystic loaf that crowns the board. When, round the table of their Lord, Within a thousand temples set, In memory of the bitter death Of Him who taught at Nazareth, His followers are met, And thoughtful eyes with tears are wet, As of the Holy One they think, The glory of whose rising yet Makes bright the grave's mysterious brink.


Brethren, the sower's task is done. The seed is in its winter bed. Now let the dark-brown mould be spread, To hide it from the sun, And leave it to the kindly care Of the still earth and brooding air, As when the mother, from her breast, Lays the hushed babe apart to rest, And shades its eyes, and waits to see How sweet its waking smile will be. The tempest now may smite, the sleet All night on the drowned furrow beat, And winds that, from the cloudy hold, Of winter breathe the bitter cold, Stiffen to stone the mellow mould, Yet safe shall lie the wheat; Till, out of heaven's unmeasured blue, Shall walk again the genial year, To wake with warmth and nurse with dew The germs we lay to slumber here.


Oh blessed harvest yet to be! Abide thou with the Love that keeps, In its warm bosom, tenderly, The Life which wakes and that which sleeps. The Love that leads the willing spheres Along the unending track of years, And watches o'er the sparrow's nest, Shall brood above thy winter rest, And raise thee from the dust, to hold Light whisperings with the winds of May, And fill thy spikes with living gold, From summer's yellow ray; Then, as thy garners give thee forth, On what glad errands shalt thou go, Wherever, o'er the waiting earth, Roads wind and rivers flow! The ancient East shall welcome thee To mighty marts beyond the sea, And they who dwell where palm-groves sound To summer winds the whole year round, Shall watch, in gladness, from the shore, The sails that bring thy glistening store.


New are the leaves on the oaken spray, New the blades of the silky grass; Flowers, that were buds but yesterday, Peep from the ground where'er I pass.

These gay idlers, the butterflies, Broke, to-day, from their winter shroud; These light airs, that winnow the skies, Blow, just born, from the soft, white cloud.

Gushing fresh in the little streams, What a prattle the waters make! Even the sun, with his tender beams, Seems as young as the flowers they wake.

Children are wading, with cheerful cries, In the shoals of the sparkling brook; Laughing maidens, with soft, young eyes, Walk or sit in the shady nook.

What am I doing, thus alone, In the glory of Nature here, Silver-haired, like a snow-flake thrown On the greens of the springing year?

Only for brows unploughed by care, Eyes that glisten with hope and mirth, Cheeks unwrinkled, and unblanched hair, Shines this holiday of the earth.

Under the grass, with the clammy clay, Lie in darkness the last year's flowers, Born of a light that has passed away, Dews long dried and forgotten showers.

"Under the grass is the fitting home," So they whisper, "for such as thou, When the winter of life is come, Chilling the blood, and frosting the brow."


See, before us, in our journey, broods a mist upon the ground; Thither leads the path we walk in, blending with that gloomy bound. Never eye hath pierced its shadows to the mystery they screen; Those who once have passed within it never more on earth are seen. Now it seems to stoop beside us, now at seeming distance lowers, Leaving banks that tempt us onward bright with summer-green and flowers. Yet it blots the way forever; there our journey ends at last; Into that dark cloud we enter, and are gathered to the past. Thou who, in this flinty pathway, leading through a stranger-land, Passest down the rocky valley, walking with me hand in hand, Which of us shall be the soonest folded to that dim Unknown? Which shall leave the other walking in this flinty path alone? Even now I see thee shudder, and thy cheek is white with fear, And thou clingest to my side as comes that darkness sweeping near. "Here," thou sayst, "the path is rugged, sown with thorns that wound the feet; But the sheltered glens are lovely, and the rivulet's song is sweet; Roses breathe from tangled thickets; lilies bend from ledges brown; Pleasantly between the pelting showers the sunshine gushes down; Dear are those who walk beside us, they whose looks and voices make All this rugged region cheerful, till I love it for their sake. Far be yet the hour that takes me where that chilly shadow lies, From the things I know and love, and from the sight of loving eyes!" So thou murmurest, fearful one; but see, we tread a rougher way; Fainter glow the gleams of sunshine that upon the dark rocks play; Rude winds strew the faded flowers upon the crags o'er which we pass; Banks of verdure, when we reach them, hiss with tufts of withered grass. One by one we miss the voices which we loved so well to hear; One by one the kindly faces in that shadow disappear. Yet upon the mist before us fix thine eyes with closer view; See, beneath its sullen skirts, the rosy morning glimmers through. One whose feet the thorns have wounded passed that barrier and came back, With a glory on His footsteps lighting yet the dreary track. Boldly enter where He entered; all that seems but darkness here, When thou once hast passed beyond it, haply shall be crystal-clear. Viewed from that serener realm, the walks of human life may lie, Like the page of some familiar volume, open to thine eye; Haply, from the o'erhanging shadow, thou mayst stretch an unseen hand, To support the wavering steps that print with blood the rugged land. Haply, leaning o'er the pilgrim, all unweeting thou art near, Thou mayst whisper words of warning or of comfort in his ear Till, beyond the border where that brooding mystery bars the sight, Those whom thou hast fondly cherished stand with thee in peace and light.


The moon is at her full, and, riding high, Floods the calm fields with light; The airs that hover in the summer-sky Are all asleep to-night.

There comes no voice from the great woodlands round That murmured all the day; Beneath the shadow of their boughs the ground Is not more still than they.

But ever heaves and moans the restless Deep; His rising tides I hear, Afar I see the glimmering billows leap; I see them breaking near.

Each wave springs upward, climbing toward the fair Pure light that sits on high— Springs eagerly, and faintly sinks, to where The mother-waters lie.

Upward again it swells; the moonbeams show Again its glimmering crest; Again it feels the fatal weight below, And sinks, but not to rest.

Again and yet again; until the Deep Recalls his brood of waves; And, with a sullen moan, abashed, they creep Back to his inner caves.

Brief respite! they shall rush from that recess With noise and tumult soon, And fling themselves, with unavailing stress, Up toward the placid moon.

O restless Sea, that, in thy prison here, Dost struggle and complain; Through the slow centuries yearning to be near To that fair orb in vain;

The glorious source of light and heat must warm Thy billows from on high, And change them to the cloudy trains that form The curtain of the sky.

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