Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
William Cullen Bryant. 1794–1878
 
17. To a Waterfowl
 
    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 seen against 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 hast 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. 
 
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