The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

By William Cullen Bryant II; Thomas G. Voss et al. | Go to book overview
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To thee thy parted bride may send
A minister of love from heaven.
Each wandering thought the Attendant Shade
To truth and virtue shall restore
And when the thorns of woe invade
Shall bid thy bosom bleed no more.

Yes! o'er thy steps where'er they tread
A silent guardian, watch shall keep
And to thy solitary bed
Lead the soft balm of anguish, sleep.
And oft, with warbled airs of dove,
The hovering spirit shall delight
Thy sunset walk by the still grove
Thy musing wakefulness at night.

To think that life is quickly past
Is solace to the mind opprest
That on the couch of death at last
The weary frame shall welcome rest.
And let the thought thy breast console
That thou no more with anguish tossed
Ere many years shall o'er thee roll
Shalt be with her whom thou hast lost. 3

MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR (draft) PUBLISHED: To the Memory of Mrs. Betsey Porter ( Cambridge, 1813), pp. 7-8.

Two months after Cullen sent Porter his congratulatory verses, Betsey Porter died. Her husband had feared this; thanking Bryant on May 24 for his "wedding hymn," he added, "I fear [your hopes] will not long be realized, my partner being very much out of health. . . . Should she fall I hope your lyre will not be silent on the occasion." NYPL-BG. Later in the year the widower published both poems in a memorial volume, To the Memory of Mrs. Betsey Porter. Porter later turned from medical practice to the study of natural history, publishing the first accounts of his neighborhood in "Some Account of Cummington, in Hampshire County, Massachusetts," Collections of the Massachutsetts Historical Society, Second Series, 10 ( 1823), 41-45; and Topographical Description and Historical Sketch of Plainfield ( Greenfield, 1834). It was Porter who first identified and described the rare mineral Cummingtonite.
These two lines, canceled in the draft manuscript, were restored in the printed version.
These verses, the first Bryant wrote which were seriously concerned with death, expressed in rudimentary form (especially the sixth and last stanzas) the theme of "Thanatopsis," written two years later. See Bryant II, "Thanatopsis," pp. 169-173.

8. To Peter Bryant

Worthington Oct. 2, 1813 Dear Sir,

Mr. Howe, who set out for Boston today, 1 wished me to send over, the first opportunity, for the execution on the action against Sears, de


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The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1
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