Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
Page  233


BIRD of the lone and joyless night,
Whence is thy sad and solemn lay?
Attendant on the pale moon's light,
Why shun the gairish blaze of day?
When darkness fills the dewy air,
Nor sounds the song of happier bird,
Alone, amid the silence there,
Thy wild and plaintive note is heard.
Thyself unseen, thy pensive moan
Pour'd in no living comrade's ear,
The forest's shaded depths alone
Thy mournful melody can hear.
Beside what still and secret spring,
In what dark wood the livelong day,
Sett'st thou with dusk and folded wing,
To while the hours of light away.
Sad minstrel! thou hast learn'd, like me,
That life's deceitful gleam is vain;
And well the lesson profits thee,
Who will not trust its charm again.
Thou, unbeguiled, thy plaint dost trill
To listening night, when mirth is o'er:
I, heedless of the warning, still
Believe, to be deceived once more.