Monday, March 10, 2008

"The Spring is here"

The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, the boyhood home and later summer residence of the American poet, sits on a hillside overlooking the Westfield River as it flows through Cummington, Massachusetts. The house was built in 1785 and purchased in 1789 by Bryant's grandfather, Ebenezer Snell. Now a museum, its collections include original family furnishings. The country setting is believed to have inspired many of Bryant's poems.

by William Cullen Bryant, 1864

Already, close by our summer dwelling,
The Easter sparrow repeats her song;
A merry warbler, she chides the blossoms-
The idle blossoms that sleep so long.

The bluebird chants, from the elm's long branches,
A hymn to welcome the budding year.
The south wind wanders from field to forest,
And softly whispers, "The Spring is here."

Come, daughter mine, from the gloomy city,
Before those lays from the elm have ceased;
The violet breathes, by our door, as sweetly
As in the air of her native East.

Though many a flower in the wood is waking,
The daffodil is our doorside queen;
She pushes upward the sward already,
To spot with sunshine the early green.

No lays so joyous as these are warbled
From wiry prison in maiden's bower;
No pampered bloom of the green-house chamber
Has half the charm of the lawn's first flower.

Yet these sweet sounds of the early season,
And these fair sights of its sunny days,
Are only sweet when we fondly listen,
And only fair when we fondly gaze.

There is no glory in star or blossom
Till looked upon by a loving eye;
There is no fragrance in April breezes
Till breathed with joy as they wander by.

Come, Julia dear, for the sprouting willows,
The opening flowers, and the gleaming brooks,
And hollows, green in the sun, are waiting
Their dower of beauty from thy glad looks.


Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post. He was born in Massachusetts in November 3, 1794, and died New York, June 12, 1878. Julia, referenced in the last stanza of the poem above, was Bryant's second daughter. Born in 1831, she was her well into her 30s at the time he wrote the poem, but clearly still at the fore of her father's thoughts.

Cedarmere, the Long Island home of American poet William Cullen Bryant, was originally built in 1787 by Richard Kirk, a Quaker farmer. Between 1843 and his death in 1878, Bryant renovated the farmhouse and planted the 7-acre property overlooking Roslyn Harbor with many exotic trees and flowering plants. The house remained in the family until 1969, when it was left to Nassau County by Bryant's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth.

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