Mutation

By William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878
They talk of short-lived pleasure–be it so–
   Pain dies as quickly: stern, hard-featured pain
Expires, and lets her weary prisoner go.
   The fiercest agonies have shortest reign;
   And after dreams of horror, comes again
The welcome morning with its rays of peace.
   Oblivion, softly wiping out the stain,
Makes the strong secret pangs of shame to cease:
Remorse is virtue’s root; its fair increase
   Are fruits of innocence and blessedness:
Thus joy, o’erborne and bound, doth still release
   His young limbs from the chains that round him press.
Weep not that the world changes–did it keep
A stable, changeless state, ’twere cause indeed to weep.

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Poet William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Growing Old, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 William Cullen Bryant

Biography

No line of his poetry survives in the consciousness of his nation, and none of his editorial pronouncements still resonates from his five decades with the New-York Evening Post, yet William Cullen Bryant stood among the most celebrated figures in the frieze of nineteenth-century America. The fame he won as a poet while in his youth remained with him as he entered his eighties; only Longfellow and Emerson were his rivals in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Growing Old, Time & Brevity

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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