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By William Cullen Bryant, the poet of America. Professor Wilson considered this to be one of his finest compositions.
Thou who wouldst see the lovely and the wild
Mingled in harmony on Nature's face,
Ascend our rocky mountains. Let thy foot
Fail not with weariness, for on their tops
The beauty and the majesty of earth,
Spread wide beneath, shall make thee to forget
The steep and toilsome way. There as thou stand'st,
The haunts of men below thee and around
The mountain summits, thy expanding heart
Shall feel a kindred with that loftier world
To which thou art translated, and partake
The enlargement of thy vision. Thou shalt look
Upon the green and rolling forest tops,
And down into the secrets of the glens
And streams that with their bordering thickets strive
To hide their windings. Thou shalt gaze, at once,
Here on white villages, and tilth, and herds,
And swarming roads, and there on solitudes
That only hear the torrent, and the wind,
And eagle's shriek. There is a precipice
That seems a fragment of some mighty wall,
Built by the hand that fashion'd the old world,
To separate its nations, and thrown down
When the flood drown'd them. To the north, a path
Conducts you up the narrow battlement.
Steep is the western side, shaggy and wild
With mossy trees, and pinnacles of flint,
And many a hanging crag. But, to the east,
Sheer to the vale go down the bare old cliffs,—
Huge pillars, that in middle heaven upbear
Their weather-beaten capitals, here dark
With the thick moss of centuries, and there
Of chalky whiteness where the thunderbolt
Has splinter'd them. It is a fearful thing
To stand upon the beetling verge, and see
Where storm and lightning, from that huge gray wall,
Have tumbled down vast blocks, and at the base
Dash'd them in fragments, and to lay thine ear
Over the dizzy depth, and hear the sound
Of winds that struggle with the woods below,
Come up like ocean murmurs. But the scene
Is lovely round; a beautiful river there
Wanders amid the fresh and fertile meads,
The paradise he made unto himself,
Mining the soil for ages. On each side
The fields swell upward to the hills; beyond
Above the hills, in the blue distance, rise
The mighty columns with which earth props heaven.
There is a tale about these reverend rocks,
One day into the bosom of a friend,
She pour'd her griefs. "Thou know'st, and thou alone."
She said, "for I have told thee, all my love,
And guilt, and sorrow. I am sick of life.
All night I weep in darkness, and the morn
Glares on me, as upon a thing accursed,
That has no business on the earth. I hate
The pastimes and the pleasant toils that once
I loved; the cheerful voices of my friends
Have an unnatural horror in my ear.
In dreams my mother, from the land of souls,
Calls me and chides me. All that look on me
Do seem to know my shame; I cannot bear
Their eyes; I cannot from my heart root out
The love that wrings it so, and I must die."
It was a summer morning and they went
From the steep rock and perish'd. There was scooped
Upon the mountain's southern slope a grave:
And there they laid her, in the very garb
With which the maiden deck'd herself for death,
With the same withering wild flowers in her hair.
And o'er the mould that cover'd her, the tribe
Built up a simple monument, a cone
Of small loose stones. Thenceforward all who pass'd,
Hunter, and dame, and virgin, laid a stone
In silence on the pile. It stands there yet.
And Indians from the distant west, who come
To visit where their father's bones are laid,
Yet tell the sorrowful tale, and to this day
The mountain where the hapless maiden died
Is call'd the Mountain of the Monument.
TO ONE IN PARADISE.
Thou wast all that to me, love,
A green isle in the sea, love,
All wreath'd with fairy fruits and flowers,
Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry hope! that didst arise
A voice from out the future cries,
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
For, alas! alas! with me
The light of life is o'er!
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Or the stricken eagle soar.
And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
And where thy footstep gleams—
By what eternal streams.
A DEAD PAST.
Extracted from a recent number of Household Words, where it appears anonymously.
Spare her at least; look, you have taken from me
Spare me the Past—for, see, she cannot harm you,
I folded her soft hands upon her bosom
Cruel indeed it were to take her from me;
I do not think the rosy smiling present,
Leave her at least—while my tears fall upon her,