Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
To a Waterfowl
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
    WHITHER, ’midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day?
Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue
    Thy solitary way?
 
    Vainly the fowler’s eye        5
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
    Thy figure floats along.
 
    Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,        10
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
    On the chafed ocean-side?
 
    There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—
The desert and illimitable air,—        15
    Lone wandering, but not lost.
 
    All day thy wings have fanned
At that far height the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
    Though the dark night is near.        20
 
    And soon that toil shall end,
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows: reeds shall bend,
    Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.
 
    Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven        25
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
    And shall not soon depart.
 
    He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,        30
In the long way that I must tread alone
    Will lead my steps aright.
 
 
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