The Poems of Henry Van Dyke eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about The Poems of Henry Van Dyke.

April, 1911.

THE OLD FLUTE

  The time will come when I no more can play
  This polished flute:  the stops will not obey
  My gnarled fingers; and the air it weaves
  In modulations, like a vine with leaves
  Climbing around the tower of song, will die
  In rustling autumn rhythms, confused and dry. 
  My shortened breath no more will freely fill
  This magic reed with melody at will;
  My stiffened lips will try and try in vain
  To wake the liquid, leaping, dancing strain;
  The heavy notes will falter, wheeze, and faint,
  Or mock my ear with shrillness of complaint.

  Then let me hang this faithful friend of mine
  Upon the trunk of some old, sacred pine,
  And sit beneath the green protecting boughs
  To hear the viewless wind, that sings and soughs
  Above me, play its wild, aerial lute,
  And draw a ghost of music from my flute!

  So will I thank the gods; and most of all
  The Delian Apollo, whom men call
  The mighty master of immortal sound,—­
  Lord of the billows in their chanting round,
  Lord of the winds that fill the wood with sighs,
  Lord of the echoes and their sweet replies,
  Lord of the little people of the air
  That sprinkle drops of music everywhere,
  Lord of the sea of melody that laves
  The universe with never silent waves,—­
  Him will I thank that this brief breath of mine
  Has caught one cadence of the song divine;
  And these frail fingers learned to rise and fall
  In time with that great tune which throbs thro’ all;
  And these poor lips have lent a lilt of joy
  To songless men whom weary tasks employ! 
  My life has had its music, and my heart
  In harmony has borne a little part,
  And now I come with quiet, grateful breast
  To Death’s dim hall of silence and of rest.

Freely rendered from the French of Auguste Angellier, 1911.

THE FIRST BIRD O’ SPRING

TO OLIVE WHEELER

  Winter on Mount Shasta,
  April down below;
  Golden hours of glowing sun,
  Sudden showers of snow! 
  Under leafless thickets
  Early wild-flowers cling;
  But, oh, my dear, I’m fain to hear
  The first bird o’ Spring!

  Alders are in tassel,
  Maples are in bud;
  Waters of the blue McCloud
  Shout in joyful flood;
  Through the giant pine-trees
  Flutters many a wing;
  But, oh, my dear, I long to hear
  The first bird o’ Spring!

  Candle-light and fire-light
  Mingle at “the Bend;”
  ’Neath the roof of Bo-hai-pan
  Light and shadow blend. 
  Sweeter than a wood-thrush
  A maid begins to sing;
  And, oh, my dear, I’m glad to hear
  The first bird o’ Spring!

The Bend, California, April 29, 1913.

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Project Gutenberg
The Poems of Henry Van Dyke from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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