This is one of my favorite poems.

To a Waterfowl

-William Cullen Bryant

Whither, midst falling dew,

While glow 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 fanned

At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere,

Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,

Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;

Soon shall 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 tread alone,

Will lead my steps aright.

I love the poet’s artistry in the words “Thou’rt gone.” I can feel his reverie break as he speaks to the bird.

I pray that my form will be swallowed in the abyss of Heaven.

I appreciate that the poet doesn’t romanticize the bird’s life. The bird will “scream” among his fellows rather than warble sweetly in his rest.

The bird will do what he was made to do. His quest to that end, and the end, are protected by the Power, who also protects the poet, and me.