Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Sun Went Down in Beauty

The sun went down in beauty
    Beyond the Mississippi side,
As I stood on the banks of the river
    And watched its waters glide;
Its swelling currents resembling
    The longing restless soul,
Surging, swelling, and pursuing
    Its ever receding goal.

The sun went down in beauty,
    But the restless tide flowed on,
And the phantom of absent loved ones
    Danced on the waves and were gone;
Fleeting phantoms of loved ones,
    Their faces jubilant with glee,
In the spray seemed to rise and beckon,
    And then rush on to the sea.

The sun went down in beauty,
    While I stood musing alone,
Stood watching the rushing river
    And heard its restless moan;
Longings, vague, untenable,
    So far from speech apart,
Like the endless rush of the river,
    Went surging through my heart.

The sun went down in beauty,
    Peacefully sank to rest,
Leaving its golden reflection
    On the great Mississpi’s breast;
Gleaming on the turbulent river,
    In the coming gray twilight,
Soothing its restless surging,
    And kissing its waters goodnight.

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 4, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“The Sun Went Down in Beauty” originally appeared in The Path of Dreams (J. P. Morton & Company, 1916).

Author


George Marion McClellan

George Marion McClellan was born on September 29, 1860, in Belfast, Tennessee. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and his bachelor of divinity from Hartford Theological Seminary in Connecticut. He was a teacher of Latin and English in Central High School in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1899 to 1911, before becoming the principal of Dunbar Public School.

A Congregational minister, teacher, and fiction writer, as well as a poet, McClellan published two poetry collections: Poems (A. M. E. Church Sunday School Union, 1895), which was later retitled Songs of a Southerner (Rockwell and Churchill, 1896), and his noted collection The Path of Dreams (John P. Morton, 1916). He also published the fiction collection Old Greenbottom Inn and Other Stories in 1906, a tragedy about racial mixture and interracial romance. McClellan, though more obscure—as little is known about his life—is frequently compared to his contemporary Paul Laurence Dunbar, another distinguished African American poet of the time. McClellan died in 1934.

Date Published: 2020-07-04

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/sun-went-down-beauty