Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
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AND thou to whom long worshipp'd nature lends
No strength to fly from grief or bear its weight,
Stop not to rail at foes or fickle friends,
Nor set the world at naught, nor spurn at fate;
None seek thy misery, none thy being hate;
Break from thy former self, thy life begin;
Do thou the good thy thoughts oft meditate,
And thou shalt feel the good man's peace within,
And at thy dying day his wreath of glory win.
With deeds of virtue to embalm his name,
He dies in triumph or serene delight;
Weaker and weaker grows his mortal frame
At every breath, but in immortal might
His spirit grows, preparing for its flight:
The world recedes and fades like clouds of even,
But heaven comes nearer fast, and grows more bright,
All intervening mists far off are driven;
The world will vanish soon, and all will soon be heaven.
Wouldst thou from sorrow find a sweet relief?
Or is thy heart oppress'd with woes untold?
Balm wouldst thou gather for corroding grief?
Pour blessings round thee like a shower of gold:
'Tis when the rose is wrapp'd in many a fold
Close to its heart, the worm is wasting there
Its life and beauty; not, when all unrolled,
Leaf after leaf its bosom rich and fair
Breathes freely its perfumes throughout the ambient air.
Wake thou that sleepest in enchanted bowers,
Lest these lost years should haunt thee on the night
When death is waiting for thy number'd hours
To take their swift and everlasting flight;
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Wake ere the earthborn charm unnerve thee quite,
And be thy thoughts to work divine address'd;
Do something—do it soon—with all thy might;
An angel's wing would droop if long at rest,
And God himself inactive were no longer bless'd.
Some high or humble enterprise of good
Contemplate till it shall possess thy mind,
Become thy study, pastime, rest, and food,
And kindle in thy heart a flame refined;
Pray Heaven for firmness thy whole soul to bind
To this thy purpose—to begin, pursue,
With thoughts all fix'd and feelings purely kind,
Strength to complete, and with delight review,
And grace to give the praise where all is ever due.