Jun 23

Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood, by William Cullen Bryant

It’s time for another installment of Feels Friday, since I haven’t had time to catch my breath lately, let alone write something of my own. This week, I’m going old-school with a poem that’s a longtime favorite of mine: Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood, written by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878).

Bryant was known for writing about nature in his poetry and is probably best remembered for his poem, Thanatopsis (which, I’ll confess, I haven’t read yet). He served as the editor of the New York Evening Post for fifty years, until his death. He was also a human rights activitist, often championing workers, immigrants, and abolition through his writing.

My kind of guy. Now, without further ado…

Image via pixabay/Coco Parisienne

Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood

William Cullen Bryant

Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart. Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men
And made thee loathe thy life. The primal curse
Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth,
But not in vengeance. God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, misery. Hence, these shades
Are still the abodes of gladness; the thick roof
Of green and stirring branches is alive
And musical with birds, that sing and sport
In wantonness of spirit; while below
The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect,
Chirps merrily. Throngs of insects in the shade
Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam
That waked them into life. Even the green trees
Partake the deep contentment; as they bend
To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene.
Scarce less the cleft-born wild-flower seems to enjoy
Existence, than the winged plunderer
That sucks its sweets. The massy rocks themselves,
And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees
That lead from knoll to knoll a causey rude
Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots,
With all their earth upon them, twisting high,
Breathe fixed tranquillity. The rivulet
Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o’er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks,
Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice
In its own being. Softly tread the marge,
Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren
That dips her bill in water. The cool wind,
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee,
Like one that loves thee nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.


Image via Unsplash/Silvestri Matteo

Thanks for reading, and Happy Weekend to you!

“Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.” – William Cullen Bryant



  1. Lovely. Winged plunderers! I know where to go on Friday to feel feels… thanks again

    1. Yes, the plunderers! The rivulet, too, rejoicing in its own being. This one still speaks to me so much. Thanks, Walker!

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