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Bryant's answer to skylarks

William Cullen Bryant did not write much poetry, but two or three of his poems became classics, including ''To a Waterfowl'' from the early 19th century. It reflects, among other things, the attitude expressed to his brother (who had written about a skylark): ''The skylark is an English bird, and an American who has never visited Europe has no right to be in raptures about it.'' 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 Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly painted on the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along. Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake, or marge or river wide, 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 - 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. 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 Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart Deeply has 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, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.

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