(William Cullen Bryant)

The Hunter's Vision

Upon a rock that, high and sheer,
    Rose from the mountain's breast,
A weary hunter of the deer
    Had sat him down to rest,
And bared to the soft summer air
His hot red brow and sweaty hair.

All dim in haze the mountains lay,
    With dimmer vales between;
And rivers glimmered on their way,
    By forests faintly seen;
While ever rose a murmuring sound,
From brooks below and bees around.

He listened, till he seemed to hear
    A strain, so soft and low,
That whether in the mind or ear
    The listener scarce might know.
With such a tone, so sweet and mild,
The watching mother lulls her child.

"Thou weary huntsman," thus it said,
    "Thou faint with toil and heat,
The pleasant land of rest is spread
    Before thy very feet,
And those whom thou wouldst gladly see
Are waiting there to welcome thee."

He looked, and 'twixt the earth and sky
    Amid the noontide haze,
A shadowy region met his eye,
    And grew beneath his gaze,
As if the vapours of the air
Had gathered into shapes so fair.

Groves freshened as he looked, and flowers
    Showed bright on rocky bank,
And fountains welled beneath the bowers,
    Where deer and pheasant drank.
He saw the glittering streams, he heard
The rustling bough and twittering bird.

And friendsthe deadin boyhood dear,
    There lived and walked again,
And there was one who many a year
    Within her grave had lain,
A fair young girl, the hamlet's pride
His heart was breaking when she died:

Bounding, as was her wont, she came
    Right towards his resting-place,
And stretched her hand and called his name
    With that sweet smiling face.
Forward with fixed and eager eyes,
The hunter leaned in act to rise:

Forward he leaned, and headlong down
    Plunged from that craggy wall;
He saw the rocks, steep, stern, and brown,
    An instant, in his fall;
A frightful instantand no more,
The dream and life at once were o'er.

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