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WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
American poet and editor
(1794 - 1878)
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War, like all other situations of danger and of change, calls forth the exertion of admirable intellectual qualities and great virtues, and it is only by dwelling on these, and keeping out of sight the sufferings and sorrows, and all the crimes and evils that follow in its train, that it has its glory in the eyes of men.
      - [War]

Ween not that the world changes--did it keep
  A stable, changeless state, it were cause in deed to weep.
      - [Change]

When beechen buds begin to swell,
  And woods the blue-bird's warble know,
    The yellow violet's modest bell
      Peeps from the last year's leaves below.
      - [Violets]

Where fall the tears of love the rose appears,
  And where the ground is bright with friendship's tears,
    Forget-me-not, and violets, heavenly blue,
      Spring glittering with the cheerful drops like dew.
      - trans. of N. Muller's "Paradise of Tears"
        [Flowers]

Who shall face
  The blast that wakes the fury of the sea?
 * * * * *
The vast hulks
  Are whirled like chaff upon the waves; the sails
    Fly, rent like webs of gossamer; the masts
      Are snapped asunder.
      - [Tempests]

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.
      - [Wind]

Your peaks are beautiful, ye Apennines!
  In the soft light of these serenest skies;
    From the broad highland region, black with pines,
      Fair as the hills of Paradise they rise,
        Bathed in the tint Peruvian slaves behold
          In rosy flushes on the virgin gold.
      - [Mountains]

The groves were God's first temple. Ere man learned
  To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
    And spread the roof above them,--ere he framed
      The lofty vault, to gather and roll back
        The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood,
          Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down
            And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
              And supplication.
      - A Forest Hymn [Trees]

Ah, why
  Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect
    God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore
      Only among the crowd and under roofs
        That our frail hands have raised?
      - A Forest Hymn (l. 16) [Worship]

Loveliest of lovely things are they
  On earth that soonest pass away.
    The rose that lives its little hour
      Is prized beyond the sculptured flower.
      - A Scene on the Banks of the Hudson [Roses]

Heed not the night; a summer lodge amid the wild is mine--
  'Tis shadowed by the tulip-tree, 'tis mantled by the vine.
      - A Strange Lady (st. 6) [Tulip Tree]

The little windflower, whose just opened eye
  Is blue as the spring heaven it gazes at.
      - A Winter Piece [Windflowers]

When shrieked
  The bleak November winds, and smote the woods,
    And the brown fields were herbless, and the shades
      That met above the merry rivulet
        Were spoiled, I sought, I loved them still; they seemed
          Like old companions in adversity.
      - A Winter Piece (l. 22) [November]

Come when the rains
  Have glazed the snow and clothed the trees with ice,
    While the slant sun of February pours
      Into the bowers a flood of light. Approach!
        The incrusted surface shall upbear thy steps
          And the broad arching portals of the grove
            Welcome thy entering.
      - A Winter Piece (l. 60) [February]

Look! the massy trunks
  Are cased in the pure crystal; each light spray,
    Nodding and tinkling in the breath of heaven,
      Is studded with its trembling water-drops,
        That glimmer with an amethystine light.
      - A Winter Piece (l. 66) [Winter]

The February sunshine steeps your boughs
  And tints the buds and swells the leaves within.
      - Among the Trees (l. 53) [February]

The linden, in the fervors of July,
  Hums with a louder concert. When the wind
    Sweeps the broad forest in its summer prime,
      As when some master-hand exulting sweeps
        The keys of some great organ, ye give forth
          The music of the woodland depths, a hymn
            Of gladness and of thanks.
      - Among the Trees (l. 62) [July : Linden]

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.
      - An Evening Reverie [Evening : Twilight]

The daffodil is our doorside queen;
  She pushes upward the sword already,
    To spot with sunshine the early green.
      - An Invitation to the Country [Daffodils]

No trumpet-blast profound
  The hour in which the Prince of Peace was born;
    No bloody streamlet stained
      Earth's silver rivers on the sacred morn.
      - Christmas in 1875 [Christmas]

The windflower and the violet, they perished long ago,
  And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
    But on the hills the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
      And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood,
        Till fell the first from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,
          And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland glade and glen.
      - Death of the Flowers [Flowers]

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.
      - Evening Wind (st. 4) [Wind]

The sad and solemn night
  Hath yet her multitude of cheerful fires;
    The glorious host of light
      Walk the dark hemisphere till she retires;
        All through her silent watches, gliding slow,
          Her constellations come, and climb the heavens, and go.
      - Hymn to the North Star [Stars]

Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
  No school of long experience, that the world
    Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
      Enough of all its sorrows, crimes and cares,
        To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
          And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
            Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
              That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
                To thy sick heart.
      - Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood
        [Trees]

I gazed upon the glorious sky
  And the green mountains round,
    And thought that when I came to lie
      At rest within the ground,
        'Twere pleasant, that in flowery June
          When brooks send up a cheerful tune,
            And groves a joyous sound,
              The sexton's hand, my grave to make,
                The rich, green mountain-turf should break.
      - June [Graves : June]


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