Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


OH, mother, would the power were mine
To wake the strain thou lovest to hear,
And breathe each trembling new-born thought
Within thy fondly-listening ear,
As when in days of health and glee,
My hopes and fancies wandered free.
Page  116
But, mother, now a shade hath pass'd
Athwart my brightest visions here;
A cloud of darkest gloom hath wrapp'd
The remnant of my brief career;
No song, no echo can I win,
The sparkling fount hath dried within.
The torch of earthly hope burns dim,
And fancy spreads her wings no more,
And oh, how vain and trivial seem
The pleasures that I prized before;
My soul, with trembling steps and slow,
Is struggling on through doubt and strife
Oh, may it prove, as time rolls on,
The pathway to eternal life!
Then when my cares and fears are o'er,
I'll sing thee as in "days of yore."
I said that Hope had passed from earth,
'Twas but to fold her wings in heaven,
To whisper of the soul's new birth,
Of sinners saved and sins forgiven;
When mine are washed in tears away,
Then shall my spirit swell my lay.
When God shall guide my soul above,
By the soft chords of heavenly love—
When the vain cares of earth depart,
And tuneful voices swell my heart—
Then shall each word, each note I raise
Burst forth in pealing hymns of praise,
And all not offered at His shrine,
Dear mother, I will place on thine.