Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant

THE WHITE HARE.

IT was the Sabbath eve: we went,
My little girl and I, intent
The twilight hour to pass,
Where we might hear the waters flow,
And scent the freighted winds that blow
Athwart the vernal grass.
In darker grandeur, as the day
Stole scarce perceptibly away,
The purple mountain stood,
Wearing the young moon as a crest:
The sun, half sunk in the far west,
Seem'd mingling with the flood.
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The cooling dews their balm distill'd;
A holy joy our bosoms thrill'd;
Our thoughts were free as air;
And by one impulse moved, did we
Together pour, instinctively,
Our songs of gladness there.
The green-wood waved its shade hard by:
While thus we wove our harmony:
Lured by the mystic strain,
A snow-white hare, that long had been
Peering from forth her covert green,
Came bounding o'er the plain.
Her beauty 'twas a joy to note;
The pureness of her downy coat,
Her wild, yet gentle eye;
The pleasure that, despite her fear,
Had led the timid thing so near,
To list our minstrelsy!
All motionless, with head inclined,
She stood, as if her heart divined
The impulses of ours,
Till the last note had died, and then
Turn'd half reluctantly again
Back to her green-wood bowers.
Once more the magic sounds we tried;
Again the hare was seen to glide
From out her sylvan shade;
Again, as joy had given her wings,
Fleet as a bird she forward springs
Along the dewy glade.
Go, happy thing! disport at will;
Take thy delight o'er vale and hill,
Or rest in leafy bower:
The harrier may beset thy way,
The cruel snare thy feet betray!
Enjoy thy little hour!
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We know not, and we ne'er may know,
The hidden springs of joy and wo
That deep within thee lie:
The silent workings of thy heart,
They almost seem to have a part
With our humanity!