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.

  Once, only once, I saw it clear,—­
  That Eden every human heart has dreamed
  A hundred times, but always far away! 
  Ah, well do I remember how it seemed,
  Through the still atmosphere
  Of that enchanted day,
  To lie wide open to my weary feet: 
  A little land of love and joy and rest,
  With meadows of soft green,
  Rosy with cyclamen, and sweet
  With delicate breath of violets unseen,—­
  And, tranquil ’mid the bloom
  As if it waited for a coming guest,
  A little house of peace and joy and love
  Was nested like a snow-white dove.

II

  From the rough mountain where I stood,
  Homesick for happiness,
  Only a narrow valley and a darkling wood
  To cross, and then the long distress
  Of solitude would be forever past,—­
  I should be home at last. 
  But not too soon! oh, let me linger here
  And feed my eyes, hungry with sorrow,
  On all this loveliness, so near,
  And mine to-morrow!

III

  Then, from the wood, across the silvery blue,
  A dark bird flew,
  Silent, with sable wings. 
  Close in his wake another came,—­
  Fragments of midnight floating through
  The sunset flame,—­
  Another and another, weaving rings
  Of blackness on the primrose sky,—­
  Another, and another, look, a score,
  A hundred, yes, a thousand rising heavily
  From that accursed, dumb, and ancient wood,
  They boiled into the lucid air
  Like smoke from some deep caldron of despair! 
  And more, and more, and ever more,
  The numberless, ill-omened brood
  Flapping their ragged plumes,
  Possessed the landscape and the evening light
  With menaces and glooms. 
  Oh, dark, dark, dark they hovered o’er the place
  Where once I saw the little house so white
  Amid the flowers, covering every trace
  Of beauty from my troubled sight,—­
  And suddenly it was night!

IV

  At break of day I crossed the wooded vale;
  And while the morning made
  A trembling light among the tree-tops pale,
  I saw the sable birds on every limb,
  Clinging together closely in the shade,
  And croaking placidly their surly hymn. 
  But, oh, the little land of peace and love
  That those night-loving wings had poised above,—­
  Where was it gone? 
  Lost, lost, forevermore! 
  Only a cottage, dull and gray,
  In the cold light of dawn,
  With iron bars across the door: 
  Only a garden where the drooping head
  Of one sad rose, foreboding its decay,
  Hung o’er a barren bed: 
  Only a desolate field that lay
  Untilled beneath the desolate day,—­
  Where Eden seemed to bloom I found but these! 
  So, wondering, I passed along my way,
  With anger in my heart, too deep for words,
  Against that grove of evil-sheltering trees,
  And the black magic of the croaking birds.

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