William Cullen Bryant
  • William Cullen Bryant
  • Letter to Editor
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June

  • I gazed upon the glorious sky
  • And the green mountains round,
  • And thought that when I came to lie
  • At rest within the ground,
  • ’Twere pleasant, that in flowery June,
  • When brooks send up a cheerful tune,
  • And groves a joyous sound,
  • The sexton’s hand, my grave to make,
  • The rich, green mountain-turf should break.
  • A cell within the frozen mould,
  • A coffin borne through sleet,
  • And icy clods above it rolled,
  • While fierce the tempests beat —
  • Away! — I will not think of these —
  • Blue be the sky and soft the breeze,
  • Earth green beneath the feet,
  • And be the damp mould gently pressed
  • Into my narrow place of rest.
  • There through the long, long summer hours,
  • The golden light should lie,
  • And thick young herbs and groups of flowers
  • Stand in their beauty by.
  • The oriole should build and tell
  • His love-tale close beside my cell;
  • The idle butterfly
  • Should rest him there, and there be heard
  • The housewife bee and humming-bird.
  • And what if cheerful shouts at noon
  • Come, from the village sent,
  • Or songs of maids, beneath the moon
  • With fairy laughter blent?
  • And what if, in the evening light,
  • Betrothed lovers walk in sight
  • Of my low monument?
  • I would the lovely scene around
  • Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
  • I know that I no more should see
  • The season’s glorious show,
  • Nor would its brightness shine for me,
  • Nor its wild music flow;
  • But if, around my place of sleep,
  • The friends I love should come to weep,
  • They might not haste to go.
  • Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom
  • Should keep them lingering by my tomb.
  • These to their softened hearts should bear
  • The thought of what has been,
  • And speak of one who cannot share
  • The gladness of the scene;
  • Whose part, in all the pomp that fills
  • The circuit of the summer hills,
  • Is that his grave is green;
  • And deeply would their hearts rejoice
  • To hear again his living voice.

William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878) was an American poet of the Romantic movement, a journalist, and longtime editor of the New York Evening Post. Although often grouped with the New England poets (Emerson, Lowell, et al.), Bryant was in fact a thorough New Yorker and spent most of his literary efforts in forging a national, rather than a regional, literature. Thanks in part to his influence, the Big Apple created two of its major landmarks, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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