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.

III

      O spirit of the everlasting boy,
          Alert, elate,
      And confident that life is good,
      Thou knockest boldly at the gate,
          In hopeful hardihood,
      Eager to enter and enjoy
          Thy new estate.

  Through the old house thou runnest everywhere,
  Bringing a breath of folly and fresh air. 
  Ready to make a treasure of each toy,
  Or break them all in discontented mood;
          Fearless of Fate,
    Yet strangely fearful of a comrade’s laugh;
    Reckless and timid, hard and sensitive;
    In talk a rebel, full of mocking chaff,
        At heart devout conservative;
    In love with love, yet hating to be kissed;
          Inveterate optimist,
          And judge severe,
    In reason cloudy but in feeling clear;
    Keen critic, ardent hero-worshipper,
    Impatient of restraint in little ways,
        Yet ever ready to confer
    On chosen leaders boundless power and praise;
    Adventurous spirit burning to explore
    Untrodden paths where hidden danger lies,
    And homesick heart looking with wistful eyes
    Through every twilight to a mother’s door;
    Thou daring, darling, inconsistent boy,
        How dull the world would be
    Without thy presence, dear barbarian,
    And happy lord of high futurity! 
    Be what thou art, our trouble and our joy,
    Our hardest problem and our brightest hope! 
    And while thine elders lead thee up the slope
    Of knowledge, let them learn from teaching thee
    That vital joy is part of nature’s plan,
    And he who keeps the spirit of the boy
    Shall gladly grow to be a happy man.

IV

    What constitutes a school? 
  Not ancient halls and ivy-mantled towers,
    Where dull traditions rule
  With heavy hand youth’s lightly springing powers;
    Not spacious pleasure courts,
  And lofty temples of athletic fame,
    Where devotees of sports
  Mistake a pastime for life’s highest aim;
    Not fashion, nor renown
  Of wealthy patronage and rich estate;
    No, none of these can crown
  A school with light and make it truly great. 
    But masters, strong and wise,
  Who teach because they love the teacher’s task,
    And find their richest prize
  In eyes that open and in minds that ask;
    And boys, with heart aglow
  To try their youthful vigour on their work,
    Eager to learn and grow,
  And quick to hate a coward or a shirk: 
    These constitute a school,—­
  A vital forge of weapons keen and bright,
    Where living sword and tool
  Are tempered for true toil or noble fight! 
    But let not wisdom scorn
  The hours of pleasure in the playing fields: 
    There also strength is born,

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