I can't abide most of William Cullen Bryant's poems. However, Bryant offers many good examples of what not to do when writing formal poetry: use no feminine endings -- in this case, no feminine rhymes either; vary little from the chosen foot of the line -- in this case iambic tetrameter; try to have a hard stop at the end of each line; use tin-eared tropes and when you're done say it without bothering to look for the meaning. Say it like a marching band. The result will be as tedious as the worst kind of contemporary blando-freever*. Sad to say, but this kind of poem used to be enormously popular in America. Well, so was watery beer. And I presume that his good life as an Abolitionist overcame Heaven's reservations about Bryant's poetry. St. Peter probably gave him a cornet with a large mute. Firesign Theater used him as a model for a loudmouthed American poet (Anything You Like).
THE AGED PASTOR
by William Cullen Bryant (1864)
Thy love, O God! from year to year,
Has watched thy faithful pastor here,
Till fifty years of toil have now
Engraved their tokens on his brow.
Fast have the seasons rolled away;
A moment in thy sight were they,
Yet while their rapid course was run,
What mighty works thy hand has done!
What empires rose, and, at thy frown,
In sudden weakness crumbled down!
What barriers, reared by earth and hell,
Against thy truth, gave way and fell!
Meanwhile, beneath thy gracious sight
This flock has dwelt in peace and light,
By living waters gently led,
And in perennial pastures fed.
Oh, when before thy judgment seat
The pastor and his flock shall meet,
May thy benignant voice attest
Their welcome to thine endless rest.