Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant

EVENING ON NARRAGANSET BAY.

20
THE sun is sinking from the sky
In calm and cloudless majesty;
And cooler hours, with gentle sway,
Succeed the fiery heat of day.
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Forest, and shore, and rippling tide,
Confess the evening's influence wide,
Seen lovelier in that fading light,
That heralds the approaching night;
That magic colouring nature throws,
To deck her beautiful repose;
When, floating on the breeze of even,
Long clouds of purple streak the heaven,
With brighter tints of glory blending,
And darker hues of night descending.
While hastening to its shady rest
Each weary songster seeks its nest,
Chanting a last, a farewell lay,
As gloomier falls the parting day.
Broad Narraganset's bosom blue
Has shone with every varying hue;
The mystic alchymy of even
Its rich delusions all has given.
The silvery sheet unbounded spread,
First melting from the waters fled;
Next the wide path of beaten gold
Flashing with fiery sparkles roll'd;
As all its gorgeous glories died,
An amber tinge blush'd o'er the tide;
Faint and more faint, as more remote,
The lessening ripples peaceful float;
And now, one ruby line alone
Trembles, is paler, and is gone;
And from the blue wave fades away
The last life-tint of dying day!
In darkness veil'd, was seen no more
Connanicut's extended shore;
Each little isle with bosom green,
Descending mists impervious screen;
One gloomy shade o'er all the woods
Of forest-fringed Aquetnet broods;
Where solemn oak was seen before
Beside the rival sycamore,
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Or pine and cedar lined the height,
All in one livery brown were dight.
But lo! with orb serene on high,
The round moon climbs the eastern sky;
The stars all quench their feebler rays
Before her universal blaze.
Round moon! how sweetly dost thou smile,
Above that green reposing isle;
Soft cradled in the illumined bay,
Where from its banks the shadows seem
Melting in filmy light away.
Far does thy temper'd lustre stream,
Checkering the tufted groves on high,
While glens in gloom beneath them lie.
Oft sheeted with the ghostly beam,
Mid the thick forest's mass of shade,
The shingled roof is gleaming white,
Where labour, in the cultured glade,
Has all the wild a garden made.
And there with silvery tassels bright
The serried maize is waving slow,
While fitful shadows come and go,
Swift o'er its undulating seas,
As gently breathes the evening breeze.
Solemn it is, in green woods deep,
That magic light o'er nature's sleep;
Where in long ranks the pillars gray
Aloft their mingling structures bear—
Mingling, in gloom or tracery fair,
Where find the unbroken beams their way—
Or through close trellis flickering stray,
While sheeny leaflets here and there
Flutter, with momentary glow.
'Tis wayward life reveal'd below,
With checker'd gleams of joy and wo!
And those pure realms above that shine,
So chaste, so vivid, so divine,
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Are the sole type that heaven has shown
Of those more lovely realms, its own!
There is no sound amid the trees,
Save the faint brush of rustling breeze;
Save insect sentinels, that still
Prolong their constant 'larum shrill,
And answer all, from tree to tree,
With one monotonous revelry.