Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


Two swallows, having flown into church during divine service, were apostrophized in the following stanzas.
GAY, guiltless pair,
What seek ye from the fields of heaven?
Ye have no need of prayer,
Ye have no sins to be forgiven.
Why perch ye here,
Where mortals to their Maker bend?
Can your pure spirits fear
The God ye never could offend?
Ye never knew
The crimes for which we come to weep:
Penance is not for you,
Bless'd wanderers of the upper deep.
To you 'tis given
To wake sweet nature's untaught lays;
Beneath the arch of heaven
To chirp away a life of praise.
Then spread each wing,
Far, far above, o'er lakes and lands,
And join the choirs that sing
In yon blue dome not rear'd with hands.
Or if ye stay
To note the consecrated hour,
Teach me the airy way,
And let me try your envied power.
Page  148
Above the crowd,
On upward wings could I but fly,
I'd bathe in yon bright cloud,
And seek the stars that gem the sky.
'Twere heaven indeed,
Through fields of trackless light to soar,
On nature's charms to feed,
And nature's own great God adore.