Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant

THE WIDOW'S CHARGE AT HER DAUGHTER'S BRIDAL.

DEAL gently, thou, whose hand has won
The young bird from the nest away,
Where, careless 'neath a vernal sun,
She gayly caroll'd day by day:
The haunt is lone, the heart must grieve,
From whence her timid wing doth soar,
They pensive list, at hush of eve,
Yet hear her gushing song no more.
Deal gently with her: thou art dear
Beyond what vestal lips have told,
And like a lamb, from fountain clear,
She turns confiding to the fold;
She round thy sweet, domestic bower
The wreaths of changeless love shall twine,
Watch for thy step at vesper hour,
And blend her holiest prayer with thine.
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Deal gently, thou, when far away,
Mid stranger scenes her foot shall rove,
Nor let thy tender cares decay,
The soul of woman lives in love;
And shouldst thou, wondering, mark a tear
Unconscious from her eyelid break,
Be pitiful, and sooth the fear
That man's strong heart can ne'er partake.
A mother yields her gem to thee,
On thy true breast to sparkle rare;
She places 'neath thy household tree
The idol of her fondest care;
And by thy trust to be forgiven,
When judgment wakes in terror wild,
By all thy treasured hopes of Heaven,
Deal gently with the widow's child.