Selections from the American poets
William Cullen Bryant
Page  303



HOW beauteous in the glowing west,
Those thousand-tinted isles that float;
On the broad sea of light they rest,
Or pass to lovelier realms remote.
Methinks it were a bliss to roam
Where those far fields in beauty lie;
Methinks there were a welcome home
In the soft clime of yonder sky.
On some bright, sunny cloud, I'd build
My palace in the verge of heaven;
On marble fix it firm, and gild
Its cornices with gold of even.
From amethystine beds I'd draw
My blocks to shape its swelling dome;
Here should you trace the old Doric law,
There the Corinthian grace of Rome.
In avenues of enchanting sweep,
Broad oaks and towering elms should stand;
Blue lakes in placid stillness sleep,
And currents roll o'er silver sand.
Perchance, to animate the scene,
Beyond the reach of art and gold,
Some spirit, whose seraphic mien
Should wear no trace of earthly mould,
Crowning each hope, might cheer my eyes
With beauty, and with love my heart,
And to my sky-hung Paradise
Its last and loveliest charm impart.
The day, with her, more calm, more bright,
Would flit on silken wing away;
With her, the dark and drowsy night.
Seem soft and cheerful as the day.
Page  304
Pensive we'd rove where scarce a ray
Pierces the dun o'erhanging shade,
Or, arm in arm, delighted stray
Through flowery lawn and emerald glade.
The joys of high, soul-kindling thought;
Sweet converse at the twilight hour;
The pleasures of a life, untaught
To pant for wealth or sigh for power;
The calm delights of letter'd ease;
Of virtuous toil the peaceful rest:
Who finds his bliss in such as these,
How truly wise, how deeply bless'd!
Of joy, on earth or in the skies,
But one perennial spring is found;
Deep in the soul that fountain lies,
And flowers of Eden fringe it round.