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by William Cullen Bryant


I would not always reason. The straight path

Wearies us with the never-varying lines,

And we grow melancholy. I would make

Reason my guide, but she should sometimes sit

Patiently by the way-side, while I traced

The mazes of the pleasant wilderness

Around me. She should be my counsellor,

But not my tyrant. For the spirit needs

Impulses from a deeper source than hers,

And there are motions, in the mind of man,

That she must look upon with awe. I bow

Reverently to her dictates, but not less

Hold to the fair illusions of old time-

Illusions that shed brightness over life,

And glory over Nature. Look, even now,

Where two bright planets in the twilight meet,

Upon the saffron heaven,- the imperial star

Of Jove, and she that from her radiant urn

Pours forth the light of love. Let me believe,

Awhile, that they are met for ends of good,

Amid the evening glory, to confer

Of men and their affairs, and to shed down

Kind influence. Lo! they brighten as we gaze,

And shake out softer fires! The great earth feels

The gladness and the quiet of the time.

Meekly the mighty river, that infolds

This mighty city, smooths his front, and far

Glitters and burns even the rocky base

Of the dark heights that bound him to the west;

And a deep murmur, from the many streets,

Rises like a thanksgiving. Put we hence

Dark and sad thoughts awhile- there's time for them

Hereafter- on the morrow we will meet,

With melancholy looks, to tell our griefs,

And make each other wretched; this calm hour,

This balmy, blessed evening, we will give

To cheerful hopes and dreams of happy days,

Born of the meeting of those glorious stars. -

Enough of drought has parched the year, and scared

The land with dread of famine. Autumn, yet,

Shall make men glad with unexpected fruits.

The dog-star shall shine harmless: genial days

Shall softly glide away into the keen

And wholesome cold of winter; he that fears

The pestilence, shall gaze on those pure beams,

And breathe, with confidence, the quiet air. -

Emblems of power and beauty! well may they

Shine brightest on our borders, and withdraw

Toward the great Pacific, marking out

The path of empire. Thus in our own land,

Ere long, the better Genius of our race,

Having encompassed earth, and tamed its tribes,

Shall sit him down beneath the farthest west,

By the shore of that calm ocean, and look back

On realms made happy. -

Light the nuptial torch,

And say the glad, yet solemn rite, that knits

The youth and maiden. Happy days to them

That wed this evening!- a long life of love,

And blooming sons and daughters! Happy they

Born at this hour, for they shall see an age

Whiter and holier than the past, and go

Late to their graves. Men shall wear softer hearts,

And shudder at the butcheries of war,

As now at other murders. -

Hapless Greece!

Enough of blood has wet thy rocks, and stained

Thy rivers; deep enough thy chains have worn

Their links into thy flesh; the sacrifice

Of thy pure maidens, and thy innocent babes,

And reverend priests, has expiated all

Thy crimes of old. In yonder mingling lights

There is an omen of good days for thee.

Thou shalt arise from midst the dust and sit

Again among the nations. Thine own arm

Shall yet redeem thee. Not in wars like thine

The world takes part. Be it a strife of kings,-

Despot with despot battling for a throne,-

And Europe shall be stirred throughout her realms,

Nations shall put on harness, and shall fall

Upon each other, and in all their bounds

The wailing of the childless shall not cease.

Thine is a war for liberty, and thou

Must fight it single-handed. The old world

Looks coldly on the murderers of thy race,

And leaves thee to the struggle; and the new,-

I fear me thou couldst tell a shameful tale

Of fraud and lust of gain;- thy treasury drained,

And Missolonghi fallen. Yet thy wrongs

Shall put new strength into thy heart and hand,

And God and thy good sword shall yet work out,

For thee, a terrible deliverance. - -