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But on my heart thy cheek of bloom
Shall live when Nature's smile has fled; And, rich with memory's sweet perfume, Shall o'er her grave thy tribute incense shed.
There shalt thou live and wake the glee
That echo'd on thy native hill;
And when, loved flower! I think of thee,
My infant feet will seem to seek thee still.
IF it be sad to mark the bow'd with age
Sink in the halls of the remorseless tomb,
Closing the changes of life's pilgrimage
In the still darkness of the mouldering gloom :
Oh, what a shadow o'er the heart is flung,
When peals the requiem of the loved and young!
They to whose bosoms, like the dawn of spring
To the unfolding bud and scented rose,
Comes the pure freshness age can never bring,
And fills the spirit with a rich repose,
How shall we lay them in their final rest,
How pile the clods upon their wasting breast?
Life openeth brightly to their ardent gaze;
A glorious pomp sits on the gorgeous sky;
O'er the broad world hope's smile incessant plays,
And scenes of beauty win the enchanted eye:
How sad to break the vision, and to fold
Each lifeless form in earth's embracing mould!
Yet this is life! To mark from day to day,
Youth, in the freshness of its morning prime,
Pass, like the anthem of a breeze away,
Sinking in waves of death ere chill'd by time!
Ere yet dark years on the warm cheek had shed
Autumnal mildew o'er the rose-like red!
And yet what mourner, though the pensive eye
Be dimly thoughtful in its burning tears,
But should with rapture gaze upon the sky,
Through whose far depths the spirit's wing careers?
There gleams eternal o'er their ways are flung,
Who fade from earth while yet their years are young!
BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
THESE are the gardens of the desert, these
The unshorn fields, boundless and beautiful,
For which the speech of England has no name-
The Prairies. I behold them for the first,
And my heart swells, while the dilated sight
Takes in the encircling vastness. Lo! they stretch
In airy undulations, far away,
As if the ocean, in his gentlest swell,
Stood still, with all his rounded billows fix'd,
And motionless for ever. Motionless?
No, they are all unchain'd again. The clouds
Sweep over with their shadows, and, beneath,
The surface rolls and fluctuates to the eye;
Dark hollows seem to glide along, and chase
The sunny ridges. Breezes of the South!
Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,
And pass the prairie-hawk, that, poised on high,
Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not-ye have play'd
Among the palms of Mexico and vines
Of Texas, and have crisp'd the limpid brooks
That from the fountains of Sonora glide
Into the calm Pacific-have ye fann'd
A nobler or a lovelier scene than this?
Man hath no part in all this glorious work:
The hand that built the firmament hath heaved
And smooth'd these verdant swells, and sown their slopes
With herbage, planted them with island groves,
And hedged them round with forests. Fitting floor
For this magnificent temple of the sky-
With flowers whose glory and whose multitude
Rival the constellations! The great heavens
Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love-
A nearer vault, and of a tenderer blue,
Than that which bends above the eastern hills.
As o'er the verdant waste I guide my steed,
Among the high, rank grass that sweeps his sides,
The hollow beating of his footstep seems
A sacrilegious sound. I think of those
Upon whose rest he tramples. Are they here—
The dead of other days? and did the dust
Of these fair solitudes once stir with life
And burn with passion? Let the mighty mounds
That overlook the rivers, or that rise
In the dim forest, crowded with old oaks,
Answer. A race that long has pass'd away,
Built them; a disciplined and populous race
Heap'd, with long toil, the earth, while yet the Greek
Was hewing the Pentelicus to forms
Of symmetry, and rearing on its rock
The glittering Parthenon. These ample fields
Nourish'd their harvests, here their herds were fed,
When haply by their stalls the bison low'd,
And bow'd his maned shoulder to the yoke.
All day this desert murmur'd with their toils,
Till twilight blush'd, and lovers walk'd, and woo'd
In a forgotten language, and old tunes,
From instruments of unremember'd form,
Gave the soft winds a voice.
The roaming hunter tribes, warlike and fierce,
And the mound-builders vanish'd from the earth.
The solitude of centuries untold
Has settled where they dwelt. The prairie-wolf
Hunts in their meadows, and his fresh-dug den
Yawns by my path. The gopher mines the ground
Where stood their swarming cities. All is gone-
All-save the piles of earth that hold their bones—
The platforms where they worshipp'd unknown gods-
The barriers which they builded from the soil
To keep the foe at bay-till o'er the walls
The wild beleaguerers broke, and, one by one,
The strongholds of the plain were forced, and heap'd
The brown vultures of the wood
Flock'd to those vast uncover'd sepulchres,
And sat, unscared and silent, at their feast.
Haply some solitary fugitive,
Lurking in marsh and forest, till the sense
Of desolation and of fear became
Bitterer than death, yielded himself to die.
Man's better nature triumph'd. Kindly words
Welcomed and sooth'd him; the rude conquerors
Seated the captive with their chiefs; he chose
A bride among their maidens, and at length
Seem'd to forget-yet ne'er forgot-the wife
Of his first love, and her sweet little ones
Butcher'd, amid their shrieks, with all his race.
Thus change the forms of being. Thus arise
Races of living things, glorious in strength,
And perish, as the quickening breath of God
Fills them, or is withdrawn. The red man, too,
Has left the blooming wilds he ranged so long,
And, nearer to the Rocky Mountains, sought
A wider hunting-ground. The beaver builds
No longer by these streams, but far away,
On waters whose blue surface ne'er gave back
The white man's face; among Missouri's springs,
And pools whose issues swell the Oregon,
He rears his little Venice.
The bison feeds no more.
Twice twenty leagues
Beyond remotest smoke of hunter's camp,
Roams the majestic brute, in herds that shake
The earth with thundering steps; yet here I meet
His ancient footprints stamp'd beside the pool.
Still this great solitude is quick with life.
Myriads of insects, gaudy as the flowers
They flutter over, gentle quadrupeds,
And birds that scarce have learn'd the fear of man,
Are here, and sliding reptiles of the ground,
Startlingly beautiful. The graceful deer
Bounds to the wood at my approach. The bee,
A more adventurous colonist than man,
With whom he came across the eastern deep,
Fills the savannas with his murmurings,
And hides his sweets, as in the golden age,
Within the hollow oak. I listen long
To his domestic hum, and think I hear
The sound of that advancing multitude
Which soon shall fill the deserts. From the ground