To A Waterfowl

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Whither, ‘midst falling dew,

While glows 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 thy distant flight to do thee wrong,

As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,

Thy figure floats along.


Seek’st thou the plashy brink

Of weedy 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 thy wings have fann’d

At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere;



Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,

Though the dark of night is near.


And soon that toil shall end,

Soon shalt thou find a summer home and rest,

And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend

Soon o’er thy sheltered nest.


Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven

Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou has 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 treat alone,

Will lead my steps aright.

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