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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Crowded Street

By William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

LET me move slowly through the street,

Filled with an ever-shifting train,

Amid the sound of steps that beat

The murmuring walks like autumn rain.

How fast the flitting figures come!

The mild, the fierce, the stony face—

Some bright with thoughtless smiles, and some

Where secret tears have lost their trace.

They pass to toil, to strife, to rest—

To halls in which the feast is spread—

To chambers where the funeral guest

In silence sits beside the dead.

And some to happy homes repair,

Where children, pressing cheek to cheek,

With mute caresses shall declare

The tenderness they cannot speak.

And some, who walk in calmness here,

Shall shudder as they reach the door

Where one who made their dwelling dear,

Its flower, its light, is seen no more.

Youth, with pale cheek and slender frame,

And dreams of greatness in thine eye!

Go’st thou to build an early name,

Or early in the task to die?

Keen son of trade, with eager brow!

Who is now fluttering in thy snare?

Thy golden fortunes, tower they now,

Or melt the glittering spires in air?

Who of this crowd to-night shall tread

The dance till daylight gleam again?

Who sorrow o’er the untimely dead?

Who writhe in throes of mortal pain?

Some, famine-struck, shall think how long

The cold dark hours, how slow the light;

And some who flaunt amid the throng

Shall hide in dens of shame to-night.

Each where his tasks or pleasures call,

They pass, and heed each other not.

There is Who heeds, Who holds them all

In His large love and boundless thought.

These struggling tides of life, that seem

In wayward, aimless course to tend,

Are eddies of the mighty stream

That rolls to its appointed end.