“To a Waterfowl” by Bryant

To a Waterfowl by Bryant
To a Waterfowl by 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 shalt 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 swallow’d up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast 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.

Poems (1832) | William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)

Online Poetry Anthology
 

Suggestions
  • Copy and illustrate one of the descriptive scenes in the poem on Drawing and Writing Paper.
  • Which lines rhyme?
  • How often does that pattern repeat? (Every four lines; quatrains.)
  • Find examples of the use of metaphor.
  • Read Psalm 91.
  • Make a list of similarities between Bryant’s poem and Psalm 91.
  • Learn more about waterfowl. What types of creatures are considered waterfowl?

Additional Resources

Poetry Dictionary for Kids
If you need help identifying metaphors or learning more about quatrain.

What are Waterfowl?
Great summary page from DK.

Ducks at a Distance

Ducks at a Distance ~ Free eBook
Free waterfowl identification guide.