Mr. Bryant’s seventieth birthday, November 3, 1864, was celebrated by a festival to which these verses were sent.
We praise not now the poet’s art,
The rounded beauty of his song;
Who weighs him from his life apart
Must do his nobler nature wrong.
Not for the eye, familiar grown
With charms to common sight denied,
The marvellous gift he shares alone
With him who walked on Rydal-side;
Not for rapt hymn nor woodland lay,
Too grave for smiles, too sweet for tears;
We speak his praise who wears to-day
The glory of his seventy years.
When Peace brings Freedom in her train,
Let happy lips his songs rehearse;
His life is now his noblest strain,
His manhood better than his verse!
Thank God! his hand on Nature’s keys
Its cunning keeps at life’s full span;
But, dimmed and dwarfed, in times like these,
The poet seems beside the man!
So be it! let the garlands die,
The singer’s wreath, the painter’s meed,
Let our names perish, if thereby
Our country may be saved and freed!