Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
Page 185Page 186
THE MOUNTAIN GIRL.
THE clouds, that upward curling from
Nevada's summit fly,
Melt into air: gone are the showers,
And, deck'd, as 'twere with bridal flowers,
Earth seems to wed the sky.
All hearts are by the spirit that
Breathes in the sunshine stirr'd;
And there's a girl that, up and down,
A merry vagrant, through the town
Goes singing like a bird.
A thing all lightness, life, and glee;
One of the shapes we seem
To meet in visions of the night;
And, should they greet our waking sight,
Imagine that we dream.
With glossy ringlet, brow that is
As falling snow-flake whim,
Half hidden by its jetty braid,
And eye like dewdrop in the shade,
At once both dark and bright:
And cheek whereon the sunny clime
Its brown tint gently throws,
Gently, as it reluctant were
To leave its print on thing so fair—
A shadow on a rose.
She stops, looks up—what does she see?
A flower of crimson dye,
Whose vase, the work of Moorish hands,
A lady sprinkles, as it stands
Upon a balcony:
High, leaning from a window forth,
From curtains that half shroud
Her maiden form, with tress of gold,
And brow that mocks their snow-white fold,
Like Dian from a cloud.
Nor flower, nor lady fair she sees—
That mountain girl—but dumb
And motionless she stands, with eye
That seems communing with the sky:
Her visions are of home.
That flower to her is as a tone
Of some forgotten song,
One of a slumbering thousand, struck
From an old harp-string; but, once woke,
It brings the rest along.
She sees beside the mountain brook,
Beneath the old cork-tree
And toppling crag, a vine-thatch'd shed,
Perch'd, like the eagle, high o'erhead,
The home of liberty;
The rivulet, the olive shade,
The grassy plot, the flock;
Nor does her simple thought forget,
Haply, the little violet,
That springs beneath the rock.
Sister and mate, they may not from
Her dreaming eye depart;
And one, the source of gentler fears,
More dear than all, for whom she wears
The token at her heart.