To Bryant’s Fountain

“…shall the veins that feed thy constant stream  be choked in middle earth, and flow no more forever, that the water-plants along thy channel perish, and the bird in vain alight to drink?”  (from The Fountain by William Cullen Bryant)

What feelings has a fountain stilled
by overgrowth of moss and twigs?
Your silenced waters trod to dust
by the endless marching years.

The twisting thicket pushes hard
against your stony face; leafy
lances penetrate your walls. Wrens
pass without a pause to rest.

What history lies sleeping, deep
within your heart…unreachable
through the thorns and tangled ivy?
What native brave slaked his thirst

with your elixir, ere it turned
red with conquered’s blood or stain
of  autumn rust? But you, storm splashed
soon washed crystal clear again.

For years wheat fields stood by your side
and children tossed their pennies in
to make a wish come true, ruddy cheeks
glistening with sun and youth.

Then, when the farmer’s time was done,
the sportsman hunted and wandered
through September’s noon, but even
hunters hang up their muskets.

The brave surrendered native land;
the child has grown into a man
and all the men have been called home.
Now you alone remain here.

We pass by and pause to wonder
what dreams hide in a fountain’s heart
when the water has departed
and the ancient tears have dried.

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