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Upon the green and rolling forest-tops, And down into the secrets of the giens, And streams that with their bordering
To hide their windings. Thou shalt gaze,
Here on white villages, and tilth, and herds, And swarming roads, and there on soli
That only hear the torrent, and the wind, And eagle's shrick. There is a precipice That seems a fragment of some mighty wall,
Built by the hand that fashioned the old world,
To separate its nations, and thrown down When the flood drowned them. To the north, a path
Conducts you up the narrow battlement. Steep is the western side, shaggy and wild
With mossy trees, and pinnacles of flint, And many a hanging crag. But, to the east,
Sheer to the vale go down the bare old cliffs
Huge pillars, that in middle heaven up
There is a tale about these reverend rocks,
A sad tradition of unhappy love,
His game in the thick woods. There was a maid,
The fairest of the Indian maids, brighteyed,
With wealth of raven tresses, a light form, And a gay heart. About her cabin-door The wide old woods resounded with her song
And fairy laughter all the summer day. She loved her cousin; such a love was deemed,
And all the hunters of the tribe were out; Nor when they gathered from the rustling husk
The shining ear; nor when, by the river's side,
They pulled the grape and startled the wild shades
With sounds of mirth. The keen-eyed Indian dames
Would whisper to each other, as they saw Her wasting form, and say, The girl will die.
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; Thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground,
The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with Thee.
Here is continual worship; - Nature, here, In the tranquillity that Thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs,
Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the
Upon the tyrant's throne the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment. For he came forth
From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them; and there have been holy
Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire
The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill,
With all the waters of the firmament,
And drowns the villages; when, at thy call,
who forgets not, at the sight
1 These are lines of whose great rhythmical beauty it is scarcely possible to speak too highly.' (POE.)
2 Among the minor poems of Bryant, none has so much impressed me as the one which he entitles June.' The rhythmical flow, here, is even voluptuous -nothing could be more melodious. The poem has always affected me in a remarkable manner. The intense melancholy which seems to well up, perforce, to the surface of all the poet's cheerful sayings about his grave, we find thrilling us to the soul while there is the truest poetic elevation in the thrill. The impression left is one of a pleasurable sadness. And if, in the remaining compositions which I shall introduce to you, there be more or less of a similar tone always apparent, let me remind you that (how or why we know not) this certain taint of sadness is inseparably connected with all the higher manifestations of true Beauty. (POE.)
AY, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf, And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay In the gay woods and in the golden air, Like to a good old age released from care, Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
3 Bryant died in the month of June (1878), and was buried in the beautiful village cemetery at Roslyn, Long Island.