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by William Cullen Bryant


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. - -