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by William Cullen Bryant


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." - -