THE CLOUD ON THE WAY
by William Cullen Bryant
THE CLOUD ON THE WAY -
Seebefore usin our journeybroods a mist upon the ground;
Thither leads the path we walk inblending with that gloomy bound.
Never eye hath pierced its shadows to the mystery they screen;
Those who once have passed within it never more on earth are seen.
Now it seems to stoop beside usnow at seeming distance lowers
Leaving banks that tempt us onward bright with summer-green and
Yet it blots the way forever; there our journey ends at last;
Into that dark cloud we enterand are gathered to the past.
Thou whoin this flinty pathwayleading through a stranger-land
Passest down the rocky valleywalking with me hand in hand
Which of us shall be the soonest folded to that dim Unknown?
Which shall leave the other walking in this flinty path alone?
Even now I see thee shudderand thy cheek is white with fear
And thou clingest to my side as comes that darkness sweeping near.
"Here" thou sayst"the path is ruggedsown with thorns thatwound
But the sheltered glens are lovelyand the rivulet's song is sweet;
Roses breathe from tangled thickets; lilies bend from ledges brown;
Pleasantly between the pelting showers the sunshine gushes down;
Dear are those who walk beside usthey whose looks and voices make
All this rugged region cheerfultill I love it for their sake.
Far be yet the hour that takes me where that chilly shadow lies
From the things I know and loveand from the sight of loving eyes!"
So thou murmurestfearful one; but seewe tread a rougher way;
Fainter glow the gleams of sunshine that upon the dark rocks play;
Rude winds strew the faded flowers upon the crags o'er which we
Banks of verdurewhen we reach themhiss with tufts of withered
One by one we miss the voices which we loved so well to hear;
One by one the kindly faces in that shadow disappear.
Yet upon the mist before us fix thine eyes with closer view;
Seebeneath its sullen skirtsthe rosy morning glimmers through.
One whose feet the thorns have wounded passed that barrier and came
With a glory on His footsteps lighting yet the dreary track.
Boldly enter where He entered; all that seems. but darkness here
When thou once hast passed beyond ithaply shall be crystal clear.
Viewed from that serener realmthe walks of human life may lie
Like the page of some familiar volumeopen to thine eye;
Haplyfrom the o'erhanging shadowthou mayst stretch an unseen
To support the wavering steps that print with blood the rugged land.
Haplyleaning o'er the pilgrimall unweeting thou art near
Thou mayst whisper words of warning or of comfort in his ear
Tillbeyond the border where that brooding mystery bars the sight
Those whom thou hast fondly cherished stand with thee in peace and
light. - -