Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
TO AN INFANT SLEEPING IN A GARDEN.
SLEEP on, sweet babe! the flowers that wake
Around thee are not half so fair;
Thy dimpling smiles unconscious break,
Like sunlight on the vernal air.
Sleep on! no dreams of care are thine,
No anxious thoughts that may not rest;
For angel arms around thee twine,
To make thy infant slumbers bless'd.
Perchance her spirit hovers near,
Whose name thy infant beauty bears,
To guard thine eyelids from the tear
That every child of sorrow shares.
SUNRISE FROM MOUNT WASHINGTON.
THE laughing hours have chased away the night,
Plucking the stars out from her diadem:
And now the blue-eyed Morn, with modest grace,
Looks through her half-drawn curtains in the east,
Blushing in smiles and glad as infancy.
And see, the foolish Moon, but now so vain
Of borrowed beauty, how she yields her charms,
And, pale with envy, steals herself away!
The clouds have put their gorgeous livery on,
Attendant on the day: the mountain tops
Have lit their beacons, and the vales below
Send up a welcoming: no song of birds,
Warbling to charm the air with melody,
Floats on the frosty breeze; yet Nature hath
The very soul of music in her looks!
The sunshine and the shade of poetry.
I stand upon thy lofty pinnacle,
Temple of Nature! and look down with awe
On the wide world beneath me, dimly seen;
Around me crowd the giant sons of earth,
Fixed on their old foundations, unsubdued;
Firm as when first rebellion bade them rise
Unrifted to the Thunderer: now they seem
A family of mountains, clustering round
Their hoary patriarch, emulously watching
To meet the partial glances of the day.
Far in the glowing east the flickering light,
Mellow'd by distance, with the blue sky blending,
Questions the eye with ever-varying forms.
The sun comes up! away the shadows fling
From the broad hills; and, hurrying to the West,
Sport in the sunshine till they die away.
The many beauteous mountain streams leap down,
Out-welling from the clouds, and sparkling light
Dances along with their perennial flow.
And there is beauty in yon river's path,
The glad Connecticut! I know her well,
By the white veil she mantles o'er her charms:
At times she loiters by a ridge of hills,
Sportfully hiding; then again with glee,
Out-rushes from her wild-wood lurking-place,
Far as the eye can bound, the ocean-waves,
And hills and rivers, mountains, lakes, and woods,
And all that hold the faculty entranced,
Bathed in a flood of glory, float in air,
And sleep in the deep quietude of joy.
There is an awful stillness in this place,
A Presence, that forbids to break the spell,
Till the heart pour its agony in tears.
But I must drink the vision while it lasts;
For even now the curling vapours rise,
Wreathing their cloudy coronals, to grace
These towering summits—bidding me away;
But often shall my heart turn back again,
Thou glorious eminence! and when oppress'd,
And aching with the coldness of the world,
Find a sweet resting-place and home with thee.