Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
THE VANITY OF THE VULGAR GREAT.
STAY, thou ambitious rill,
Ignoble offering of some fount impure!
Beneath the rugged hill,
Gloomy with shade, thou hadst thy birth obscure
With faint steps issuing slow,
In scanty waves among the rocks to flow.
Fling not abroad thy spray,
Nor fiercely lash the green turf at thy side!
What though indulgent May
With liquid snows hath swoln thy foaming tide?
August will follow soon,
To still thy boastings with his scorching noon.
Lo! calmly through the vale
The Po, the king of rivers, sweeps along;
Yet many a mighty sail
Bears on his breast—proud vessels, swift and strong
Nor from the meadow's side
'Neath summer's sun recedes his lessen'd tide.
Thou, threatening all around,
Dost foam and roar along thy troubled path;
In grandeur newly found,
Stunning the gazer with thy noisy wrath!
Yet, foolish stream! not one
Of all thy boasted glories is thine own.