Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1821–1834
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. V: Literature of the Republic, Part II., 1821–1834
 
To a Waterfowl
By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
[From Poetical Works of William Cullen Bryant. Edited by Parke Godwin. 1883.]

    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 has 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.

  1815.
 
 
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