05 June 2012

To a Waterfowl

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 the distant flight to do wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of woody 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 the 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 foil shall end;
Soon shall thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bond
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Then'st 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.

W.C. Bryant

May 19, 1883.Glenwood [Iowa] Weekly Opinion 20(6): 1.