Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
Page  203



TWELVE years have flown since last I saw
My birthplace and my home of youth:
How oft its scenes would memory draw
Her tints the pencillings of truth:
Unto that spot I come once more,
The dearest life hath ever known;
And still it wears the look it wore,
Although twelve weary years have flown.
Again upon the soil I stand
Where first my infant footsteps stray'd;
Again I view my "father-land,"
And wander through its pleasant shade:
I gaze upon the hills, the skies,
The verdant banks with flowers o'ergrown,
And while I look with glistening eyes,
Almost forget twelve years are flown.
Twelve years are flown! those words are brief,
Yet in their sound what fancies dwell:
The hours of bliss, the days of grief,
The joys and woes remember'd well:
The hopes that fill'd the youthful breast,
Alas! how many a one o'erthrown!
Deep thoughts, that long have been at rest,
Wake at the words, twelve years have flown!
The past! the past! a saddening thought,
A withering spell is in the sound!
It comes with memories deeply fraught
Of youthful pleasure's giddy round;
Of forms that roved life's sunniest bowers,
The cherish'd few for ever gone:
Of dreams that fill'd life's morning hours,
Where are they now? Twelve years have flown!
Page  204
A brief but eloquent reply!
Where are youth's hopes—life's morning dream?
Seek for the flowers that floated by
Upon the rushing mountain stream!
Yet gems beneath that wave may sleep,
Till after years shall make them known
Thus golden thoughts the heart will keep,
That perish not, though years have flown.