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The Heavenly Providence,
For human soul and sense.
The Father that's above
In his compassionate love.
Help Thou our wayward mind
Forbearing, tempering, kind.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
[Born 3 November 1794, in Cummington, Massachusetts. He published a political satire in verse, The Embargo, in 1808, when only thirteen years of age. Besides holding eminent rank among American poets, Mr. Bryant has been a conspicuous journalist since 1826, when he became editor of the New York Evening Post, a paper in the Democratic interest].
TO A WATERFOWL. WHITHER, 'midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
On the chafed ocean-side ?
There is a power whose care
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end; Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright.
THESE are the gardens of the desert, these The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful, For which the speech of England has no nameThe prairies. I behold them for the first, And my heart swells, while the dilated sight Takes-in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch In airy undulations, far away, As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell, Stood still, with all his rounded billows fixed, And motionless forever.-Motionless ?No—they are all unchained again. The clouds Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath, The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye ;
Dark hollows seem to glide along and chase
As o'er the verdant waste I guide my steed, Among the high, rank grass that sweeps his sides, The hollow beating of his footstep seems A sacrilegious sound. I think of those Upon whose rest he tramples. Are they hereThe dead of other days?—and did the dust Of these fair solitudes once stir with life And burn with passion ? Let the mighty mounds That overlook the rivers, or that rise In the dim forest, crowded with old oaks, Answer. A race that long has passed away Built them ;-a disciplined and populous race Heaped, with long toil, the earth, while yet the Greek Was hewing the Pentelicus to forms Of symmetry, and rearing on its rock The glittering Parthenon. These ample fields Nourished their harvests; here their herds were fed, When haply by their stalls the bison lowed,
And bowed his manèd shoulder to the yoke.
The brown vultures of the wood
Thus change the forms of being. Thus arise
A wider hunting-ground. The beaver builds
Still this great solitude is quick with life. Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds, And birds, that scarce have learned the fear of man, Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground, Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee, A more adventurous colonist than man, With whom he came across the eastern deep, Fills the savannas with his murmurings, And hides his sweets, as in the golden age, Within the hollow oak.
I listen long To his domestic hum, and think I hear The sound of that advancing multitude Which soon shall fill these deserts. From the ground Comes up the laugh of children, the soft voice Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn Of Sabbath worshipers. The low of herds Blends with the rustling of the heavy grain Over the dark-brown furrows. All at once A fresher wind sweeps by, and breaks my dream, And I am in the wilderness alone.