NOVEMBER (A SONNET)
by William Cullen Bryant
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapoury air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) was an American romantic poet, journalist, and influential editor. Born in Massachusetts, Bryant wrote some of the most significant poetry in early 19th century America, helping drive the emergence of a truly American literary voice.
Bryant’s most famous poem, “Thanatopsis”, was published when he was just 17 years old. This meditative work on death established him as America’s leading poet. Other notable poems include “To a Waterfowl”, “The Ages”, and “The Prairies”. His poetry often explored nature as a metaphor for spirituality.
In 1825, Bryant became editor of the New York Evening Post, a position he held for almost 50 years. He shaped the paper into an influential platform for anti-slavery and social reform. His commitment to free speech, ethics, and human rights made him an important public figure.
Bryant helped promote and define American literary independence from Europe. He brought Romantic sensibilities to distinctly American topics, settings and images. Along with his contemporary poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bryant gave the young nation a unique and thoughtful poetic voice. Though underappreciated today, his poetry captured the American imagination during the 19th century.