Noon

Author: William Cullen Bryant  | Date: 1842

NOON

’Tis noon. At noon the Hebrew bowed the knee

And worshipped, while the husbandmen withdrew

From the scorched field, and the wayfaring man

Grew faint, and turned aside by bubbling fount,

Or rested in the shadow of the palm.

I, too, amid the overflow of day,

Behold the power which wields and cherishes

The frame of Nature. From this brow of rock

That overlooks the Hudson’s western marge,

I gaze upon the long array of groves,

The piles and gulfs of verdure drinking in

The grateful heats. They love the fiery sun;

Their broadening leaves grow glossier, and their sprays

Climb as he looks upon them. In the midst,

The swelling river, into his green gulfs,

Unshadowed save by passing sails above,

Takes the redundant glory, and enjoys

The summer in his chilly bed. Coy flowers,

That would not open in the early light,

Push back their plaited sheaths. The rivulet’s pool,

That darkly quivered all the morning long

In the cool shade, now glimmers in the sun;

And o’er its surface shoots, and shoots again,

The glittering dragon-fly, and deep within

Run the brown water-beetles to and fro.

A silence, the brief sabbath of an hour,

Reigns o’er the fields; the laborer sits within

His dwelling; he has left his steers awhile,

Unyoked, to bite the herbage, and his dog

Sleeps stretched beside the door-stone in the shade.

Now the gray marmot, with uplifted paws,

No more sits listening by his den, but steals

Abroad, in safety, to the clover-field,

And crops its juicy blossoms. All the while

A ceaseless murmur from the populous town

Swells o’er these solitudes: a mingled sound

Of jarring wheels, and iron hoofs that clash

Upon the stony ways, and hammer-clang,

And creak of engines lifting ponderous bulks,

And calls and cries, and tread of eager feet,

innumerable, hurrying to and fro.

Noon, in that mighty mart of nations, brings

No pause to toil and care. With early day

Began the tumult, and shall only cease

When midnight, hushing one by one the sounds

Of bustle, gathers the tired brood to rest.

Thus, in his feverish time, when love of gain

And luxury possess the hearts of men,

Thus is it with the noon of human life.

We, in our fervid manhood, in our strength

Of reason, we, with hurry, noise, and care,

Plan, toil, and strive, and pause not to refresh

Our spirits with the calm and beautiful

Of God’s harmonious universe, that won

Our youthful wonder; pause not to inquire

Why we are here; and what the reverence

Man owes to man, and what the mystery

That links us to the greater world, beside

Whose borders we but hover for a space.

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Chicago: William Cullen Bryant, Noon Original Sources, accessed October 28, 2021, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SNA7YZ72SZVQZHK.

MLA: Bryant, William Cullen. Noon, Original Sources. 28 Oct. 2021. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SNA7YZ72SZVQZHK.

Harvard: Bryant, WC, Noon. Original Sources, retrieved 28 October 2021, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SNA7YZ72SZVQZHK.