Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


THERE lies a village in a peaceful vale,
With sloping hills and waving woods around,
Fenced from the blasts. There never ruder gale
Bows the tall grass that covers all the ground;
And planted shrubs are there, and cherish'd flowers,
And a bright verdure born of gentle showers.
'Twas there my young existence was begun,
My earliest sports were on its flowery green,
And often, when my schoolboy task was done,
I climbed its hills to view the pleasant scene,
And stood and gazed till the sun's setting ray
Shone on the height—the sweetest of the day.
There, when that hour of mellow light was come,
And mountain shadows cool'd the ripen'd grain,
I watch'd the weary yeoman plodding home,
In the lone path that winds across the plain,
To rest his limbs, and watch his child at play,
And tell him o'er the labours of the day.
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And when the woods put on their autumn glow,
And the bright sun came in among the trees,
And leaves were gathering in the glen below,
Swept softly from the mountains by the breeze,
I wander'd till the starlight on the stream
At length awoke me from my fairy dream.
Ah! happy days, too happy to return,
Fled on the wings of youth's departed years,
A bitter lesson has been mine to learn,
The truth of life, its labours, pains, and fears;
Yet does the memory of my boyhood stay,
A twilight of the brightness pass'd away.
My thoughts steal back to that sweet village still;
Its flowers and peaceful shades before me rise;
The play-place and the prospect from the hill,
Its summer verdure, and autumnal dyes;
The present brings its storms; but, while they last,
I shelter me in the delightful past.