William Cullen Bryant

William Cullen

American Poet, Critic, Editor

Author Quotes

Oh mother of a mighty race, yet lovely in thy youthful grace! The elder dames, thy haughty peers, admire and hate thy blooming years.

So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers.

The country ever has a lagging Spring, waiting for May to call its violets forth.

The moon is at her full, and riding high, floods the calm fields with light. The airs that hover in the summer sky are all asleep tonight.

The windflower and the violet, they perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchids died amid the summer glow; But on the hills the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood, And the yellow sunflower by the brook, in autumn beauty stood, Till fell the first from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone, from upland glade and glen.

Thus change the forms of being. Thus arise races of living things, glorious in strength, and perish, as the quickening breath of God fills them, or is withdrawn.

And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles on the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, on the leaping waters and gay young isles; ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.

But 'neath yon crimson tree Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, Nor mark, within its roseate canopy, Her blush of maiden shame.

Father, thy hand hath reared these venerable columns, thou didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose all these fair ranks of trees. They, in thy sun, budded, and shook their green leaves in thy breeze, and shot towards heaven.

I stand and calmly wait till the hinges turn for me.

Oh, river! Darkling river! What a voice is that thou utterest while all else is still ? the ancient voice that, centuries ago, sounded between thy hills, while rome was yet a weedy solitude by tiber's stream!

So live that when thy summons comes to join the innumerable caravan that moves to that mysterious realm, where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death, thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

The daffodil is our door-side queen; She pushes upward the sword already, To spot with sunshine the early green.

The praise of those who sleep in earth, the pleasant memory of their worth, the hope to meet when life is past, shall heal the tortured mind at last.

The words of fire that from his pen were flung upon the fervid page, still move, still shake the hearts of men, amid a cold and coward age.

Thy early smile has stayed my walk; but midst the gorgeous blooms of May, I passed thee on thy humble stalk.

And now, when comes the calm mild day, as still such days will come, to call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; when the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still, and twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill, the south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore, and sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.

By eloquence I understand those appeals to our moral perceptions that produce emotion as soon as they are uttered. This is the very enthusiasm that is the parent of poetry. Let the same man go to his closet and clothe in numbers conceptions full of the same fire and spirit, and they will be poetry.

Gaze on them, till the tears shall dim thy sight, but keep that earlier, wilder image bright.

I worship the quicksand he walks in.

Oh, river, gentle river! Gliding on in silence underneath this starless sky! Thine is a ministry that never rests even while the living slumber. Thou pausest not in thine allotted task, oh, darkling river!

So they, who climb to wealth, forget the friends in darker fortunes tried. I copied them -- but I regret that I should ape the ways of pride.

The earth may ring, from shore to shore, with echoes of a glorious name, but he, whose loss our tears deplore, has left behind him more than fame.

The right to discuss freely and openly, by speech, by the pen, by the press, all political questions, and to examine and animadvert (speak out) upon all political institutions, is a right so clear and certain, so interwoven with our other liberties, so necessary, in fact to their existence, that without it we must fall at once into depression or anarchy. To say that he who holds unpopular opinions must hold them at the peril of his life, and that, if he expresses them in public, he has only himself to blame if they who disagree with him should rise and put him to death, is to strike at all rights, all liberties, all protection of the laws, and to justify and extenuate all crimes.

There is a day of sunny rest for every dark and troubled night; and a grief may bid, and evening guest, bot joy shall come with early light.

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William Cullen
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American Poet, Critic, Editor