The Hunter's Serenade

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Thy bower is finished, fairest!
  Fit bower for hunter's bride--
Where old woods overshadow
  The green savanna's side.
I've wandered long, and wandered far,
  And never have I met,
In all this lovely western land,
  A spot so lovely yet.
But I shall think it fairer,
  When thou art come to bless,
With thy sweet smile and silver voice,
  Its silent loveliness.

For thee the wild grape glistens,
  On sunny knoll and tree,
The slim papaya ripens
  Its yellow fruit for thee.
For thee the duck, on glassy stream,
  The prairie-fowl shall die,
My rifle for thy feast shall bring
  The wild swan from the sky.
The forest's leaping panther,
  Fierce, beautiful, and fleet,
Shall yield his spotted hide to be
  A carpet for thy feet.

I know, for thou hast told me,
  Thy maiden love of flowers;
Ah, those that deck thy gardens
  Are pale compared with ours.
When our wide woods and mighty lawns
  Bloom to the April skies,
The earth has no more gorgeous sight
  To show to human eyes.
In meadows red with blossoms,
  All summer long, the bee
Murmurs, and loads his yellow thighs,
  For thee, my love, and me.

Or wouldst thou gaze at tokens
  Of ages long ago--
Our old oaks stream with mosses,
  And sprout with mistletoe;
And mighty vines, like serpents, climb
  The giant sycamore;
And trunks, o'erthrown for centuries,
  Cumber the forest floor;
And in the great savanna,
  The solitary mound,
Built by the elder world, o'erlooks
  The loneliness around.

Come, thou hast not forgotten
  Thy pledge and promise quite,
With many blushes murmured,
  Beneath the evening light.
Come, the young violets crowd my door,
  Thy earliest look to win,
And at my silent window-sill
  The jessamine peeps in.
All day the red-bird warbles,
  Upon the mulberry near,
And the night-sparrow trills her song,
  All night, with none to hear.

© William Cullen Bryant