Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: II. Life
The Crowded Street
William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
 
LET me move slowly through the street,
  Filled with an ever-shifting train,
Amid the sound of steps that beat
  The murmuring walks like autumn rain.
 
How fast the flitting figures come!        5
  The mild, the fierce, the stony face——
Some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some
  Where secret tears have left their trace.
 
They pass to toil, to strife, to rest—
  To halls in which the feast is spread—        10
To chambers where the funeral guest
  In silence sits beside the dead.
 
And some to happy homes repair,
  Where children, pressing cheek to cheek,
With mute caresses shall declare        15
  The tenderness they cannot speak.
 
And some, who walk in calmness here,
  Shall shudder as they reach the door
Where one who made their dwelling dear,
  Its flower, its light, is seen no more.        20
 
Youth, with pale cheek and slender frame,
  And dreams of greatness in thine eye!
Go’st thou to build an early name,
  Or early in the task to die?
 
Keen son of trade, with eager brow!        25
  Who is now fluttering in thy snare?
Thy golden fortunes, tower they now,
  Or melt the glittering spires in air?
 
Who of this crowd to-night shall tread
  The dance till daylight gleam again?        30
Who sorrow o’er the untimely dead?
  Who writhe in throes of mortal pain?
 
Some, famine-struck, shall think how long
  The cold, dark hours, how slow the light;
And some, who flaunt amid the throng,        35
  Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.
 
Each where his tasks or pleasures call,
  They pass, and heed each other not.
There is who heeds, who holds them all
  In His large love and boundless thought.        40
 
These struggling tides of life, that seem
  In wayward, aimless course to tend,
Are eddies of the mighty stream
  That rolls to its appointed end.
 
 
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