Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


WHILE yet she lived, she walk'd alone
Among these shades. A voice divine
Whisper'd, "This spot shall be thine own;
Here shall thy wasting form recline,
Beneath the shadow of this pine."
"Thy will be done? the sufferer said.
This spot was hallow'd from that hour;
And, in her eyes, the evening's shade
And morning's dew this green spot made
More lovely than her bridal bower.
By the pale moon—herself more pale
And spirit-like—these walks she trod;
And, while no voice, from swell or vale,
Was heard, she knelt upon this sod
And gave her spirit back to God.
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That spirit, with an angel's wings,
Went up from the young mother's bed.
So, heavenward, soars the lark and sings;
She's lost to earth and earthly things;
But "weep not, for she is not dead,
She sleepeth!" Yea, she sleepeth here,
The first that in these grounds hath slept.
This grave, first water'd with the tear
That child or widow'd man hath wept,
Shall be by heavenly watchmen kept.
The babe that lay on her cold breast—
A rosebud dropp'd on drifted snow—
Its young hand in its father's press'd,
Shall learn that she, who first caress'd
Its infant cheek, now sleeps below.
And often shall he come alone,
When not a sound but evening's sigh
Is heard, and, bowing by the stone
That bears his mother's name, with none
But God and guardian angels nigh,
Shall say, "This was my mother's choice
For her own grave: oh, be it mine!
Even now, methinks, I hear her voice
Calling me hence, in the divine
And mournful whisper of this pine."