The Yellow Violet

By William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878
When beechen buds begin to swell,
  And woods the blue-bird’s warble know,
The yellow violet’s modest bell
  Peeps from the last year’s leaves below.
Ere russet fields their green resume,
  Sweet flower, I love, in forest bare,
To meet thee, when thy faint perfume
  Alone is in the virgin air.
Of all her train, the hands of Spring
  First plant thee in the watery mould,
And I have seen thee blossoming
  Beside the snow-bank’s edges cold.
Thy parent sun, who bade thee view
  Pale skies, and chilling moisture sip,
Has bathed thee in his own bright hue,
  And streaked with jet thy glowing lip.
Yet slight thy form, and low thy seat,
  And earthward bent thy gentle eye,
Unapt the passing view to meet
  When loftier flowers are flaunting nigh.
Oft, in the sunless April day,
  Thy early smile has stayed my walk;
But midst the gorgeous blooms of May,
  I passed thee on thy humble stalk.
So they, who climb to wealth, forget
  The friends in darker fortunes tried.
I copied them—but I regret
  That I should ape the ways of pride.
And when again the genial hour
  Awakes the painted tribes of light,
I’ll not o’erlook the modest flower
  That made the woods of April bright.

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Poet William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Nature, Spring, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

 William Cullen Bryant


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, Nature, Spring, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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