Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


"Why mourn for the young? Better that the light cloud should fade away in the morning's breath, than travel through the weary day, to gather in darkness, and end in storm."

IF it be sad to mark the bow'd with age
Sink in the halls of the remorseless tomb,
Closing the changes of life's pilgrimage
In the still darkness of its mouldering gloom;
Oh! what a shadow o'er the heart is flung,
When peals the requiem of the loved and young!
They to whose bosoms, like the dawn of spring
To the unfolding bud and scented rose,
Comes the pure freshness age can never bring,
And fills the spirit with a rich repose,
How shall we lay them in their final rest?
How pile the clods upon their wasting breast?
Life openeth brightly to their ardent gaze;
A glorious pomp sits on the gorgeous sky;
O'er the broad world Hope's smile incessant plays
And scenes of beauty win the enchanted eye:
How sad to break the vision, and to fold
Each lifeless form in earth's embracing mould!
Yet this is life! To mark from day to day,
Youth, in the freshness of its morning prime,
Pass, like the anthem of a breeze away,
Sinking in waves of Death ere chill'd by Time!
Page  297
Ere yet dark years on the warm cheek had shed
Autumnal mildew o'er its roselike red!
And yet what mourner, though the pensive eye
Be dimly thoughtful in its burning tears,
But should with rapture gaze upon the sky,
Through whose far depths the spirit's wing careers?
There gleams eternal o'er their ways are flung,
Who fade from earth while yet their years are young!