|Notes for William Cullen BRYANT|
|William Cullen Bryant was a young lawyer when his poem "Thanatopsis" first appeared in the "North American Review" in 1817. Inspired by the romantic lyrics of William Wordsworth, Bryant found his subject in the American landscape, especially that of New England. By 1825, critics on both sides of the Atlantic called him the finest poet in the United States. But reputation alone could not support his family, and in 1826 Bryant joined the "New York Evening Post." By 1840, Bryant had largely abandoned poetry to become one of the country's leading advocates for abolition. From 1856 on, the "Evening Post" was a Republican paper, supporting the arming of abolitionist settlers in Kansas, deriding the Dred Scott decision, and celebrating John Brown as a martyr. In 1860, Bryant introduced Abraham Lincoln before the audience at Cooper Union in New York. Later, Bryant and the "Evening Post" influenced Lincoln's decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Brady photographed the powerful editor in New York around 1860.|
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
Note: Bryant died and was buried in the month of June.
|Last Modified 17 Jan 2002||Created 7 Dec 2002 by P. J. Wigington Mahan|