To a Waterfowl, William Cullen Bryant

To a Waterfowl

by William Cullen Bryant

      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 of 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 fann’d
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 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,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.

When I was in high school I remember learning about this poem in our English class. My professor was so deep reading this poem in front of the class. I have loved Literature since then. Two days ago, I wrote something about Robert Frost’s In White and Design poems. I had some idea on his thoughts about him questioning the design that was seemingly like fate. His poems was in contrast to Cullen Bryant’s ‘To a Waterfowl’ which tells that someone Divine is taking care of the waterfowl and that Someone is leading the bird’s steps aright. This poem is deep, heart-touching and peaceful.

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2 thoughts on “To a Waterfowl, William Cullen Bryant

  1. Have read this too for one of my major subjects. Reminds me of the song “How Lovely is Your Dwelling Place”. Sound familiar? ☺

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