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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By William Allen Butler (1825–1902)

[Born in Albany, N. Y., 1825. Died in Yonkers, N. Y., 1902. Poems. 1871.]

IT is the poet Uhland, from whose wreathings

Of rarest harmony I here repeat,

In lower tones and less melodious breathings,

Some simple strains where truth and passion meet.

His is the poetry of sweet expression,

Of clear, unfaltering tune, serene and strong;

Where gentlest thoughts and words, in soft procession,

Move to the even measures of his song.

Delighting ever in his own calm fancies,

He sees much beauty where most men see naught,

Looking at Nature with familiar glances,

And weaving garlands in the groves of Thought.

He sings of Youth, and Hope, and high Endeavor,

He sings of Love (O crown of Poesy)!

Of Fate, and Sorrow, and the Grave, forever

The end of strife, the goal of Destiny.

He sings of Fatherland, the minstrel’s glory,

High theme of memory and hope divine,

Twining its fame with gems of antique story,

In Suabian songs and legends of the Rhine;

In ballads breathing many a dim tradition,

Nourished in long belief, or minstrel rhymes,

Fruit of the old Romance, whose gentle mission

Passed from the earth before our wiser times.

Well do they know his name amongst the mountains,

And plains, and valleys of his native land;

Part of their nature are the sparkling fountains

Of his clear thought, with rainbow fancies spanned.

His simple lays oft sings the mother cheerful,

Beside the cradle, in the dim twilight;

His plaintive notes low breathes the maiden tearful

With tender murmurs in the ear of Night.

The hillside swain, the reaper in the meadows,

Carol his ditties through the toilsome day;

And the lone hunter in the Alpine shadows

Recalls his ballads by some ruin gray.

O precious gift! O wondrous inspiration!

Of all high deeds, of all harmonious things,

To be the oracle, while a whole nation

Catches the echo from the sounding strings.

Out of the depths of feeling and emotion

Rises the orb of song, serenely bright,

As who beholds, across the tracts of ocean,

The golden sunrise bursting into light.

Wide is its magic world,—divided neither

By continent, nor sea, nor narrow zone;

Who would not wish sometimes to travel thither,

In fancied fortunes to forget his own!