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by William Cullen Bryant


Let me move slowly through the street

Filled with an ever-shifting train

Amid the sound of steps that beat

The murmuring walks like autumn rain. -

How fast the flitting figures come!

The mildthe fiercethe stony face;

Some bright with thoughtless smilesand some

Where secret tears have left their trace. -

They pass- to toilto strifeto rest;

To halls in which the feast is spread;

To chambers where the funeral guest

In silence sits beside the dead. -

And some to happy homes repair

Where childrenpressing cheek to cheek

With mute caresses shall declare

The tenderness they cannot speak. -

And somewho walk in calmness here

Shall shudder as they reach the door

Where one who made their dwelling dear

Its flowerits lightis seen no more. -

Youthwith pale cheek and slender frame

And dreams of greatness in thine eye!

Go'st thou to build an early name

Or early in the task to die? -

Keen son of tradewith eager brow!

Who is now fluttering in thy snare?

Thy golden fortunestower they now

Or melt the glittering spires in air? -

Who of this crowd to-night shall tread

The dance till daylight gleam again?

Who sorrow o'er the untimely dead?

Who writhe in throes of mortal pain? -

Somefamine-struckshall think how long

The colddark hourshow slow the light;

And somewho flaunt amid the throng

Shall hide in dens of shame to-night. -

Eachwhere his tasks or pleasures call

They passand heed each other not.

There is who heedswho holds them all

In His large love and boundless thought. -

These struggling tides of life that seem

In waywardaimless course to tend

Are eddies of the mighty stream

That rolls to its appointed end. -