Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant


THROUGH Time's dim atmosphere, behold
Those ancient hills again,
Rising to Fancy's eager view
In solitude, as when
Beneath the summer firmament,
So silently of yore,
The shadow of each passing cloud
Their rugged bosoms bore!
They sloped in pathless grandeur then
Down to the murmuring sea,
And rose upon the woodland plain
In lonely majesty.
The breeze, at noontide, whisper'd soft
Their emerald knolls among,
And midnight's wind, amid their heights,
Its wildest dirges sung.
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As on their brow the forest king
Paused in his weary way,
From far below his quick ear caught
The moaning of the bay.
The dry leaves, fann'd by Autumn's breath,
Along their ridges crept;
And snow-wreaths, like storm-whiten'd waves,
Around them rudely swept.
For ages, o'er their swelling sides,
Grew the wild flowers of Spring,
And stars smiled down, and dew-founts pour'd
Their gentle offering.
The moonbeams play'd upon their peaks,
And at their feet the tide;
And thus, like altar-mounts they stood,
By nature sanctified.
Now, when to mark their beacon forms
The seaman turns his gaze,
It quails, as roof, and spire, and dome
Flash in the sun's bright rays.
On those wild hills a thousand homes
Are rear'd in proud array,
And argosies float safely o'er
That lone and isle-gemm'd bay.
Those shadowy mounds, so long untrod,
By countless feet are press'd;
And hosts of loved ones meekly sleep
Below their teeming breast.
A world's unnumber'd voices float
Within their narrow bound:
Love's gentle tone, and traffic's hum,
And music's thrilling sound.
There Liberty first found a tongue
Beneath New-England's sky,
And there her earliest martyrs stood,
And nerved themselves to die.
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And long upon these ancient hills,
By glory's light enshrined,
May rise the dwellings of the free,
The city of the mind.