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May erring minds, that worship here,

Be taught the better way;

And they who mourn, and they who fear,

Be strengthened as they pray.

May faith grow firm, and love grow warm,

And pure devotion rise,

While, round these hallowed walls, the storm
Of earth-born passion dies.


I have yet to quote the most significant of Bryant's distinctly religious poems. It is entitled "He hath put all things under his feet," and this hymn declares the world-wide supremacy of Christ:

O North, with all thy vales of green!
O South, with all thy palms!
From peopled towns and fields between
Uplift the voice of psalms;

Raise, ancient East! the anthem high,
And let the youthful West reply.

Lo! in the clouds of heaven appears
God's well-belovèd Son;

He brings a train of brighter years:
His kingdom is begun;

He comes a guilty world to bless
With mercy, truth, and righteousness.

Oh, Father! haste the promised hour,
When, at His feet, shall lie

All rule, authority, and power
Beneath the ample sky;

When He shall reign from pole to pole,

The Lord of every human soul;

When all shall heed the words He said

Amid their daily cares,

And, by the loving life He led,

Shall seek to pattern theirs;

And He, who conquered Death, shall win
The nobler conquest over Şin.



This hymn does not declare Christ's absolute deity, nor does it indicate the poet's knowledge of that spiritual union with Christ which is the source of greatest joy to the believer. Joy has its root in sacrifice— Christ's sacrifice for us and our sacrifice to him. seldom read of the Cross, in Bryant's poetry. faith in the Cross is not wholly absent. In his poem, "Waiting by the Gate," he seems to make all final joy depend upon Christ's death:

We Yet

And some approach the threshold whose looks are blank with fear,

And some whose temples brighten with joy in drawing near,
As if they saw dear faces, and caught the gracious eye
Of Him, the Sinless Teacher, who came for us to die.

The infrequency of our poet's reference to Calvary, and to the Christian's union with the crucified One, is the reason why his work is so somber, so redolent of duty, so given to external nature. If he had penetrated more deeply into "the mystery of the gospel," which is "Christ in us," he would have had more of the Christian's "hope of glory." Yet Mr. John Bigelow writes of him: "Though habitually an attendant upon the ministrations of the Unitarian clergy when they were accessible, no one ever recognized more completely or more devoutly the divinity of Christ." Even here, "divinity" may not mean the same as deity." But let us be thankful for what we find. His theism and his recognition of God's providence, his faith in God's love and revelation, have for their corollary an unwavering belief in immortality. This appears conspicuously in his love-songs, which were, almost without exception, addressed to his wife, with




whom he spent forty-five years of married life. Before their marriage he addressed her as "fairest of the rural maids," and under the pseudonym of "Genevieve" he made her the subject of one of his lightest and sweetest poems:

Soon as the glazed and gleaming snow
Reflects the day-dawn cold and clear,
The hunter of the West must go

In depth of woods to seek the deer.

His rifle on his shoulder placed,

His stores of death arranged with skill,
His moccasins and snow-shoes laced-
Why lingers he beside the hill?

Far, in the dim and doubtful light,
Where woody slopes a valley leave,
He sees what none but lover might,
The dwelling of his Genevieve.

And oft he turns his truant eye,

And pauses oft, and lingers near;
But when he marks the reddening sky,
He bounds away to hunt the deer.

When in 1858 Mrs. Bryant had recovered from a long and painful illness, the poet welcomed his wife in the verses which he named "The Life that Is," and of these I quote the first and the last:

Thou, who so long hast pressed the couch of pain,
Oh welcome, welcome back to life's free breath-
To life's free breath and day's sweet light again,
From the chill shadows of the gate of death!

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Now may we keep thee from the balmy air
And radiant walks of heaven a little space,
Where He, who went before thee to prepare
For His meek followers, shall assign thy place.

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But in 1866 death finally took his wife from him. It was an irremediable loss, for his reserved nature had found in her his only intimate friend. His poem, “ A Lifetime," begins with a treatment of grief in the third person, but it ends most pathetically by attributing all the sorrow to himself. It is the last poem he composed, and it summarizes his own life:

And well I know that a brightness

From his life has passed away,

And a smile from the green earth's beauty,
And a glory from the day.

But I behold, above him,

In the far blue depths of air,
Dim battlements shining faintly,
And a throng of faces there;

See over crystal barrier

The airy figures bend,

Like those who are watching and waiting

The coming of a friend.

And one there is among them,
With a star upon her brow,
In her life a lovely woman,
A sinless seraph now.

I know the sweet calm features;

The peerless smile I know;

And I stretch my arms with transport
From where I stand below.

And the quick tears drown my eyelids,
But the airy figures fade,

And the shining battlements darken
And blend with the evening shade.

I am gazing into the twilight

Where the dim-seen meadows lie,
And the wind of night is swaying
The trees with a heavy sigh.



He did not sorrow as those without hope, for he believed in Him who has brought life and immortality to light in his glorious gospel. He cannot think that the separation caused by death is lasting. In his poem, "The Future Life," he writes:

How shall I know thee in the sphere which keeps

The disembodied spirits of the dead,

When all of thee that time could wither sleeps
And perishes among the dust we tread?

For I shall feel the sting of ceaseless pain,
If there I meet thy gentle presence not;
Nor hear the voice I love, nor read again
In thy serenest eyes the tender thought.

The love that lived through all the stormy past,
And meekly with my harsher nature bore,
And deeper grew, and tenderer to the last,
Shall it expire with life, and be no more?

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Shalt thou not teach me, in that calmer home,
The wisdom that I learned so ill in this-
The wisdom which is love-till I become

Thy fit companion in that land of bliss?

Indeed, he trusts that even now the separation is not complete:

May we not think that near us thou dost stand
With loving ministrations? for we know
Thy heart was never happy when thy hand
Was forced its tasks of mercy to forego.

May'st thou not prompt with every coming day
The generous aim and act, and gently win
Our restless, wandering thoughts, to turn away
From every treacherous path that ends in sin?

His poem, "The Death of the Flowers," has a moving pathos, from the fact that it commemorates the

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