A Walk at Sunset

Author: William Cullen Bryant  | Date: 1821


When insect wings are glistening in the beam

Of the low sun, and mountain-tops are bright,

Oh, let me, by the crystal valley-stream,

Wander amid the mild and mellow light;

And while the wood-thrush pipes his evening lay,

Give me one lonely hour to hymn the setting day.

Oh, sun! that o’er the western mountains now

Go’st down in glory! ever beautiful

And blessed is thy radiance, whether thou

Colorest the eastern heaven and night-mist cool,

Till the bright day-star vanish, or on high

Climbest and streamest thy white splendors from mid-sky.

Yet, loveliest are thy setting smiles, and fair,

Fairest of all that earth beholds, the hues,

That live among the clouds, and flush the air,

Lingering and deepening at the hour of dews.

Then softest gales are breathed, and softest heard

The plaining voice of streams, and pensive note of bird.

They who here roamed, of yore, the forest wide,

Felt, by such charm, their simple bosoms won;

They deemed their quivered warrior, when he died,

Went to bright isles beneath the setting sun;

Where winds are aye at peace, and skies are fair,

And purple-skirted clouds curtain the crimson air.

So, with the glories of the dying day,

Its thousand trembling lights and changing hues,

The memory of the brave who passed away

Tenderly mingled;- fitting hour to muse

On such grave theme, and sweet the dream that shed

Brightness and beauty round the destiny of the dead.

For ages, on the silent forests here,

Thy beams did fall before the red man came

To dwell beneath them; in their shade the deer

Fed, and feared not the arrow’s deadly aim.

Nor tree was felled, in all that world of woods,

Save by the beaver’s tooth, or winds, or rush of floods.

Then came the hunter tribes, and thou didst look,

For ages, on their deeds in the hard chase,

And well-fought wars; green sod and silver brook

Took the first stain of blood; before thy face

The warrior generations came and passed,

And glory was laid up for many an age to last.

Now they are gone, gone as thy setting blaze

Goes down the west, while night is pressing on,

And with them the old tale of better days,

And trophies of remembered power, are gone.

Yon field that gives the harvest, where the plough

Strikes the white bone, is all that tells their story now.

I stand upon their ashes in thy beam,

The offspring of another race, I stand,

Beside a stream they loved, this valley-stream;

And where the night-fire of the quivered band

Showed the gray oak by fits, and war-song rung,

I teach the quiet shades the strains of this new tongue.

Farewell! but thou shalt come again- thy light

Must shine on other changes, and behold

The place of the thronged city still as night-

States fallen- new empires built upon the old-

But never shalt thou see these realms again

Darkened by boundless groves, and roamed by savage men.

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Chicago: William Cullen Bryant, A Walk at Sunset in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed January 22, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7NGAVB8CIC5TZ8.

MLA: Bryant, William Cullen. A Walk at Sunset, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 22 Jan. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7NGAVB8CIC5TZ8.

Harvard: Bryant, WC, A Walk at Sunset. cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 22 January 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=Q7NGAVB8CIC5TZ8.