Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant



GOD of the earth's extended plains!
The dark green fields contented lie:
The mountains rise like holy towers,
Where man might commune with the sky
The tall cliff challenges the storm
That lowers upon the vale below,
Where shaded fountains send their streams,
With joyous music in their flow.
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God of the dark and heavy deep!
The waves lie sleeping on the sands,
Till the fierce trumpet of the storm
Hath summon'd up their thundering bands;
Then the white sails are dash'd like foam,
Or hurry, trembling, o'er the seas,
Till, calm'd by thee, the sinking gale
Serenely breathes, Depart in peace.
God of the forest's solemn shade!
The grandeur of the lonely tree,
That wrestles singly with the gale,
Lifts up admiring eyes to thee;
But more majestic far they stand,
When, side by side, their ranks they form,
To wave on high their plumes of green,
And fight their battles with the storm.
God of the light and viewless air!
Where summer breezes sweetly flow,
Or, gathering in their airy might,
The fierce and wintry tempests blow;
All—from the evening's plaintive sigh,
That hardly lifts the drooping flower,
To the wild whirlwind's midnight cry—
Breathe forth the language of thy power.
God of the fair and open sky!
How gloriously above us springs
The tented dome, of heavenly blue,
Suspended on the rainbow's rings!
Each brilliant star that sparkles through,
Each gilded cloud that wanders free
In evening's purple radiance, gives
The beauty of its praise to thee.
God of the rolling orbs above!
Thy name is written clearly bright
In the warm day's unvarying blaze,
Or evening's golden shower of light.
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For every fire that fronts the sun,
And every spark that walks alone
Around the utmost verge of heaven,
Were kindled at thy burning throne.
God of the world! the hour must come,
And Nature's self to dust return;
Her crumbling altars must decay;
Her incense fires shall cease to burn;
But still her grand and lovely scenes
Have made man's warmest praises flow,
For hearts grow holier as they trace
The beauty of the world below.


BEHOLD the western evening light!
It melts in deepening gloom;
So calmly Christians sink away,
Descending to the tomb.
The wind breathes low; the withering leaf
Scarce whispers from the tree;
So gently flows the parting breath,
When good men cease to be.
How beautiful on all the hills
The crimson light is shed!
'Tis like the peace the Christian gives
To mourners round his bed.
How mildly on the wandering cloud
The sunset beam is cast!
'Tis like the memory left behind
When loved ones breathe their last.
And now, above the dews of night,
The yellow star appears;
So faith springs in the heart of those
Whose eyes are bathed in tears.
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But soon the morning's happier light
Its glory shall restore,
And eyelids that are seal'd in death
Shall wake to close no more.