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Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes
Retire, and in thy presence reassure
My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,
The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink
Anil tremble and are still.
Oh, God! when thou
Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire
The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill
With all the waters of the firmament
The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods
And drowns the villages; when, at thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities,—who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of thy power,
His pride, and lays his strife áud folly by?
Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate,
In these calm shades, thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of thy works
Learn to conform the order of our lives.
In 1826, Bryant became connected with The Evening Post, which connection he has ever since maintained. During the six following years he also contributed poems and tales to The Talisman, and to Tales of the Glauber Spa.
Bryant visited the continent of Europe in 1834, and again in 1845 and 1849, travelling through the most attractive parts of France, Germany, and Italy. The fruits of these travels were various letters, published from time to time, in The Post, afterwards collected and entitled Letters of a Trareller. A second series of these letters followed in 1859.
“Mr. Bryant's style in these letters is an admirable model of descriptive prose. Without any appearance of labor, it is finished with an exquisite grace. The genial love of Nature and the lurking tendency to humor which it everywhere betrays, prevent its severe simplicity from running into hardness, and give it freshness and occasional glow, in spite of its prevailing propriety and reserve."*
In 1842 was published The Fountain, and other Poema, and, two years later, The White-footed Deer, and other Poeins.
FOUNTAIN, that springest on this grassy slope,
Thy quick cool murmur mingles pleasantly,
With the cool sound of breezes in the beech,
Above me in the noontide. Thou dost wear
No stain of thy dark birth-place; gushing up
From the red mould and slimy roots of earth,
Thou flashest in the sun. The mountain air,
In winter, is not clearer, nor the dew
That shines on mountain blossom. Thus doth God
Bring, from the dark and foul, the pure and bright.
This tangled thicket on the bank above
Thy basin, how thy waters keep it.green!
For thou dost feed the roots of the wild vine
That trails all over it, and to the twigs
Ties fast her clusters. There the spice-bush lifts
Her leafy lances; the viburnum there,
Paler of foliage, to the sun holds up
Her circlet of green berries. In and out
The chirping sparrow, in her coat of brown,
Steals silently, lest I should mark her nest.
Not such thou wert of yore, ere yet the axe
Had smitten the old woods. Then hoary trunks
Of oak, and plane, and hickory, o'er thee held
A mighty canopy. When April winds
Grow soft, the maple burst into a flush
Of scarlet flowers. The tulip tree, high up,
Opened, in airs of June, her multitude
of golden chalices to humming-birds
And silken-winged insects of the sky.
Frail wood-plants clustered round thy edge in Spring.
T'ne liverleaf put forth her sister blooms
* Harper's Magazine.
Of faintest blue. Here the quick-footed wolf,
Pausing to lap thy waters, crushed the flower
Of sanguinaria, from whose brittle stem
The red drops fell like blood. The deer, too, left
Her delicate foot-print in the soft moist mould,
And on the fallen leaves. The slow-paced bear,
In such a sultry summer noon as this,
Stopped at thy stream, and drank, and leaped across.
But thou hast histories that stir the heart
With deeper feeling; while I look on thee
They rise before me. I behold the scene
Hoary again with forests; I behold
The Indian warrior, whom a hand unseen
Has smitten with his death-wound in the woods,
Creep slowly to thy well-known rivulet,
And slake his death-thirst.
Hark, that quick fierce cry
That rends the utter silence; 'tis the whoop
Of battle, and a throng of savage men,
With naked arms and faces stained like blood,
Fill the green wilderness; the long bare arms
Are heaved aloft, bows twang and arrows stream;
Each makes a tree his shield, and every tree
Sends forth its arrow. Fierce the fight and short,
As is the whirlwind. Soon the conquerors
And conquered vanish, and the dead remain
Mangled by tomahawks.
The mighty woods
Are still again, the frighted bird comes back
And plumes her wings; but thy sweet waters run
Crimson with blood. Then, as the sun goes down,
Amid the deepening twilight I descry
Figures of men that crouch and creep unheard,
And bear away the dead. The next day's shower
Shall wash the tokens of the fight away.
I look again-a hunter's lodge is built,
With poles and boughs, beside the crystal well,
While the meek autumn stains the woods with gold,
And shades his golden sunshine. To the door
The red man slowly drage the enormous bear
Blain in the chestnut thicket, or flings down
The deer from his strong shoulders. Shaggy fells
Of wolf and cougar hang upon the walls,
And loud the black-eyed Indian maidens laugh,
That gather, from the rustling heaps of leaves,
The hickory's white nuts, and the dark fruit
That falls from the gray butternut's long boughs.
So centuries passed by, and still the woods Blossomed in spring, and reddened with the year, Grew chill, and glistened in the frozen rains Of winter, till the white man swung the axe Beside thee-signal of a mighty change. Then all around was heard the crash of trees, Trembling awhile and rushing to the ground, The low of ox, and shouts of men who fired The brushwood, or who tore the earth with ploughs.
The grain sprang thick and tall, and hid in green
The blackened hill-side; ranks of spiky maize
Rose like a host embattled; the buckwheat
Whitened broad acres, sweetening with its flowers
The August wind. White cottages were seen
With rose-trees at the windows; barns from which
Came loud and shrill the crowing of the cock;
Pastures were rolled, and neighed the lordly horse,
And white flocks browsed and bleated. A rich turf
Of grasses brought from far o'ercrept thy bank,
Spotted with the white clover. Blue-eyed girls
Brought pails, and dipped them in thy crystal pool;
And children, ruddy-cheeked and flaxen-haired,
Gathered the glistening cowslip from thy edge.
Since then, what steps have trod thy border! Here, On thy green bank, the woodman of the swamp Has laid his axe, the reaper of the hill His sickle, as they stooped to taste thy stream. The sportsman, tired with wandering in the still September noon, has bathed his heated brow In thy cool current. Shouting boys, let loose For a wild holiday, have quaintly shaped Into a cup the folded linden leaf,
And dipped thy sliding crystal. From the wars
Returning, the plumed soldier by thy side
Has snt, and mused how pleasant 'twere to dwell
In such a spot, and be as free as thou,
And move for no man's bidding more.
When thou wert crimson with the crimson sky,
Lovers have gazed upon thee, and have thought
Their mingled lives should flow as peacefully
And brightly as thy waters. Here the sage,
Gazing into thy self-replenished depth,
Has seen eternal order circumscribe
And bind the motions of eternal change,
And from the gushing of thy simple fount
Has reasoned to the mighty universe.
Is there no other change for thee, that lurks
Among the future ages? Will not man
Seek out strange arts to wither and deform
The pleasant landscape which thou makest green!
Or shall the veins that feed thy constant stream
Be choked in middle earth, and flow no more
For ever, that the water-plants along
Thy channel perish, and the bird in vain
Alight to drink? Haply shall these green hills
Sink, with the lapse of years, into the gulf
Of ocean waters, and thy source be lost
Amidst the bitter brine? Or shall they rise,
Upheaved in broken cliffs and airy peaks,
Haunts of the eagle and the snake, and thou
Gush midway from the bare and barren steep?
THE WHITE-FOOTED DEER.
It was a hundred years ago,
When, by the woodland ways,
The traveler saw the wild deer drink,
Or crop the birchen sprays.
Beneath a hill, whose rocky side
O'erbrowed a grassy mead,
And fenced a cottage from the wind,
A deer was wont to feed.