Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant



"The quiet August noon has come;
A slumberous silence fills the sky;
The winds are still, the trees are dumb,
In glassy sleep the waters lie."

DUST on thy mantle! dust,
Bright Summer, on thy livery of green!
A tarnish, as of rust,
Dimmeth thy brilliant sheen:
And the young glories—leaf, and bud, and flower,
Change cometh o'er them with every hour.
These hath the August sun
Look'd on with hot, and fierce, and brassy face:
And still and lazily run,
Scarce whispering in their pace,
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The half-dried rivulets, that lately sent
A shout of gladness up, as on they went.
Flame-like, the long midday,
With not so much of sweet air as hath stirr'd
The down upon the spray,
Where rests the panting bird,
Dozing away the hot and tedious noon,
With fitful twitter, sadly out of tune.
Seeds in the sultry air,
And gossamer webwork on the sleeping trees!
E'en the tall pines, that rear
Their plumes to catch the breeze,
The slightest breeze from the unfruitful West,
Partake the general languor and deep rest.
Happy, as man may be,
Stretch'd on his back, in homely beanvine bower,
While the voluptuous bee
Robs each surrounding flower,
And prattling childhood clambers o'er his breast,
The husbandman enjoys his noonday rest.
Against the mazy sky,
Motionless rests the thin and fleecy cloud,
LEE, such have met thine eye,
And such thy canvass crowd!
And, painter, ere it from thy easel goes,
With the sky's light, and shade, and warmth it glows.
Thy pencil, too, can give
Form to the glowing images that throng
The poet's brain, and live
For ever in his song.
Glory awaits thee, gifted one! and Fame
High in Art's temple shall inscribe thy name.
Soberly, in the shade,
Repose the patient cow and toilworn ox;
Or in the shoal stream wade,
Shelter'd by jutting rocks:
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The fleecy flock, fly-scourged and restless, rush
Madly from fence to fence, from bush to bush.
Slow, now, along the plain,
Creeps the cool shade, and on the meadow's edge:
The kine are forth again,
The bird flits in the hedge;
Now in the molten west sinks the hot sun.
Welcome, mild eye! the sultry day is done.
Pleasantly comest thou,
Dew of the evening, to the crisp'd-up grass;
And the curled cornblades bow
As the light breezes pass,
That their parch'd lips may feel thee, and expand,
Thou sweet reviver of the fever'd land.
So to the thirsting soul
Cometh the dew of the Almighty's love;
And the scathed heart, made whole,
Turneth in joy above,
To where the spirit freely may expand,
And rove untrammell'd in that "better land."