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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 guidebut she should sometimes sit

Patiently by the way-sidewhile 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 motionsin the mind of man

That she must look upon with awe. I bow

Reverently to her dictatesbut not less

Hold to the fair illusions of old time-

Illusions that shed brightness over life

And glory over Nature. Lookeven now

Where two bright planets in the twilight meet

Upon the saffron heaven- the imperial star

Of Joveand she that from her radiant urn

Pours forth the light of love. Let me believe

Awhilethat they are met for ends of good

Amid the evening gloryto confer

Of men and their affairsand 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 riverthat infolds

This mighty citysmooths his frontand far

Glitters and burns even the rocky base

Of the dark heights that bound him to the west;

And a deep murmurfrom 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 looksto tell our griefs

And make each other wretched; this calm hour

This balmyblessed eveningwe will give

To cheerful hopes and dreams of happy days

Born of the meeting of those glorious stars. -

Enough of drought has parched the yearand scared

The land with dread of famine. Autumnyet

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 pestilenceshall gaze on those pure beams

And breathewith confidencethe quiet air. -

Emblems of power and beauty! well may they

Shine brightest on our bordersand withdraw

Toward the great Pacificmarking out

The path of empire. Thus in our own land

Ere longthe better Genius of our race

Having encompassed earthand tamed its tribes

Shall sit him down beneath the farthest west

By the shore of that calm oceanand look back

On realms made happy. -

Light the nuptial torch

And say the gladyet solemn ritethat 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 hourfor they shall see an age

Whiter and holier than the pastand 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 rocksand stained

Thy rivers; deep enough thy chains have worn

Their links into thy flesh; the sacrifice

Of thy pure maidensand thy innocent babes

And reverend priestshas 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 harnessand shall fall

Upon each otherand in all their bounds

The wailing of the childless shall not cease.

Thine is a war for libertyand 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 theea terrible deliverance. - -