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Best Famous Henry Van Dyke Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Henry Van Dyke poems. This is a select list of the best famous Henry Van Dyke poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Henry Van Dyke poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Henry Van Dyke poems.

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Written by Henry Van Dyke |


 Let me but live my life from year to year, 
With forward face and unreluctant soul; 
Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal; 
Not mourning for the things that disappear 
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear 
From what the future veils; but with a whole 
And happy heart, that pays its toll 
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.
So let the way wind up the hill or down, O'er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy: Still seeking what I sought when but a boy, New friendship, high adventure, and a crown, My heart will keep the courage of the quest, And hope the road's last turn will be the best.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

A Health to Mark Twain

 At his Birthday Feast

With memories old and wishes new
We crown our cups again,
And here's to you, and here's to you
With love that ne'er shall wane!
And may you keep, at sixty-seven,
The joy of earth, the hope of heaven,
And fame well-earned, and friendship true,
And peace that comforts every pain,
And faith that fights the battle through,
And all your heart's unbounded wealth,
And all your wit, and all your health,--
Yes, here's a hearty health to you,
And here's to you, and here's to you,
Long life to you, Mark Twain.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |


 "Do you give thanks for this? -- or that?" 
No, God be thanked
I am not grateful
In that cold, calculating way, with blessing ranked
As one, two, three, and four, -- that would be hateful.
I only know that every day brings good above" My poor deserving; I only feel that, in the road of Life, true Love Is leading me along and never swerving.
Whatever gifts and mercies in my lot may fall, I would not measure As worth a certain price in praise, or great or small; But take and use them all with simple pleasure.
For when we gladly eat our daily bread, we bless The Hand that feeds us; And when we tread the road of Life in cheerfulness, Our very heart-beats praise the Love that leads us.

More great poems below...

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

The Empty Quatrain

 A flawless cup: how delicate and fine
The flowing curve of every jewelled line!
Look, turn it up or down, 't is perfect still,--
But holds no drop of life's heart-warming wine.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

The Black Birds


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 

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! 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! II 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 withering heads Of flowers, presaging decay, Hung over barren beds: 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.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

Echoes From the Greek Mythology


With two bright eyes, my star, my love, 
Thou lookest on the stars above: 
Ah, would that I the heaven might be
With a million eyes to look on thee.
II - ROSELEAF A little while the rose, And after that the thorn; An hour of dewy morn, And then the glamour goes.
Ah, love in beauty born, A little while the rose! Unknown.
III - PHOSPHOR -- HESPER O morning star, farewell! My love I now must leave; The hours of day I slowly tell, And turn to her with the twilight bell, -- O welcome, star of eve! Meleager.
IV - SEASONS Sweet in summer, cups of snow, Cooling thirsty lips aglow; Sweet to sailors winter-bound, Spring arrives with garlands crowned; Sweeter yet the hour that covers With one cloak a pair of lovers, Living lost in golden weather, While they talk of love together.
V - THE VINE AND THE GOAT Although you eat me to the root, I yet shall bear enough of fruit For wine to sprinkle your dim eyes, When you are made a sacrifice.
VI - THE PROFESSOR Seven pupils, in the class Of Professor Callias, Listen silent while he drawls, -- Three are benches, four are walls.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |


 O Music hast thou only heard
The laughing river, the singing bird,
The murmuring wind in the poplar-trees,--
Nothing but Nature's melodies?
Nay, thou hearest all her tones, 
As a Queen must hear! 
Sounds of wrath and fear, 
Mutterings, shouts, and moans, 
Madness, tumult, and despair,
All she has that shakes the air 
With voices fierce and wild!
Thou art a Queen and not a dreaming child,--
Put on thy crown and let us hear thee reign 
Triumphant in a world of storm and strain! 

Echo the long-drawn sighs
Of the mounting wind in the pines;
And the sobs of the mounting waves that rise
In the dark of the troubled deep
To break on the beach in fiery lines.
Echo the far-off roll of thunder, Rumbling loud And ever louder, under The blue-black curtain of cloud, Where the lightning serpents gleam.
Echo the moaning Of the forest in its sleep Like a giant groaning In the torment of a dream.
Now an interval of quiet For a moment holds the air In the breathless hush Of a silent prayer.
Then the sudden rush Of the rain, and the riot Of the shrieking, tearing gale Breaks loose in the night, With a fusillade of hail! Hear the forest fight, With its tossing arms that crack and clash In the thunder's cannonade, While the lightning's forked flash Brings the old hero-trees to the ground with a crash! Hear the breakers' deepening roar, Driven like a herd of cattle In the wild stampede of battle, Trampling, trampling, trampling, to overwhelm the shore! Is it the end of all? Will the land crumble and fall? Nay, for a voice replies Out of the hidden skies, "Thus far, O sea, shalt thou go, So long, O wind, shalt thou blow: Return to your bounds and cease, And let the earth have peace!" O Music, lead the way-- The stormy night is past, Lift up our hearts to greet the day, And the joy of things that last.
The dissonance and pain That mortals must endure, Are changed in thine immortal strain To something great and pure.
True love will conquer strife, And strength from conflict flows, For discord is the thorn of life And harmony the rose.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

National Monuments

 Count not the cost of honour to the dead! 
The tribute that a mighty nation pays
To those who loved her well in former days 
Means more than gratitude for glories fled; 
For every noble man that she hath bred,
Lives in the bronze and marble that we raise, 
Immortalized by art's immortal praise,
To lead our sons as he our fathers led.
These monuments of manhood strong and high Do more than forts or battle-ships to keep Our dear-bought liberty.
They fortify The heart of youth with valour wise and deep; They build eternal bulwarks, and command Eternal strength to guard our native land.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

The Ancestral Dwelling

 Dear to my heart are the ancestral dwellings of America,
Dearer than if they were haunted by ghosts of royal splendour;
These are the homes that were built by the brave beginners of a nation,
They are simple enough to be great, and full of a friendly dignity.
I love the old white farmhouses nestled in New England valleys, Ample and long and low, with elm-trees feathering over them: Borders of box in the yard, and lilacs, and old-fashioned Howers, A fan-light above the door, and little square panes in the windows, The wood-shed piled with maple and birch and hickory ready for winter, The gambrel-roof with its garret crowded with household relics, -- All the tokens of prudent thrift and the spirit of self-reliance.
I love the look of the shingled houses that front the ocean; Their backs are bowed, and their lichened sides are weather-beaten; Soft in their colour as grey pearls, they are full of patience and courage.
They seem to grow out of the rocks, there is something indomitable about them: Facing the briny wind in a lonely land they stand undaunted, While the thin blue line of smoke from the square-built chimney rises, Telling of shelter for man, with room for a hearth and a cradle.
I love the stately southern mansions with their tall white columns, They look through avenues of trees, over fields where the cotton is growing; I can see the flutter of white frocks along their shady porches, Music and laughter float from the windows, the yards are full of hounds and horses.
They have all ridden away, yet the houses have not forgotten, They are proud of their name and place, and their doors are always open, For the thing they remember best is the pride of their ancient hospitality.
In the towns I love the discreet and tranquil Quaker dwellings, With their demure brick faces and immaculate white-stone doorsteps; And the gabled houses of the Dutch, with their high stoops and iron railings, (I can see their little brass knobs shining in the morning sunlight); And the solid houses of the descendants of the Puritans, Fronting the street with their narrow doors and dormer-windows; And the triple-galleried, many-pillared mansions of Charleston, Standing sideways in their gardens full of roses and magnolias.
Yes, they are all dear to my heart, and in my eyes they are beautiful; For under their roofs were nourished the thoughts that have made the nation; The glory and strength of America came from her ancestral dwellings.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

A Prayer for a Mothers Birthday

 Lord Jesus, Thou hast known
A mother's love and tender care:
And Thou wilt hear, while for my own
Mother most dear I make this birthday prayer.
Protect her life, I pray, Who gave the gift of life to me; And may she know, from day to day, The deepening glow of Life that comes from Thee.
As once upon her breast Fearless and well content I lay, So let her heart, on Thee at rest, Feel fears depart and troubles fade away.
Her every wish fulfill; And even if Thou must refuse In anything, let Thy wise will A comfort bring such as kind mothers use.
Ah, hold her by the hand, As once her hand held mine; And though she may not understand Life's winding way, lead her in peace divine.
I cannot pay my debt For all the love that she has given; But Thou, love's Lord, wilt not forget Her due reward,--bless her in earth and heaven.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

Loves Nearness

 I think of thee, when golden sunbeams shimmer
Across the sea;
And when the waves reflect the moon's pale glimmer,
I think of thee.
I see thy form, when down the distant highway The dust-clouds rise; In deepest night, above the mountain by-way, I see thine eyes.
I hear thee when the ocean-tides returning Loudly rejoice; And on the lonely moor, in stillness yearning, I hear thy voice.
I dwell with thee: though thou art far removed, Yet art thou near.
The sun goes down, the stars shine out, --- Beloved, Ah, wert thou here!

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

The Proud Lady

 When Stiivoren town was in its prime
And queened the Zuyder Zee,
Its ships went out to every clime
With costly merchantry.
A lady dwelt in that rich town, The fairest in all the land; She walked abroad in a velvet gown, With many rings on her hand.
Her hair was bright as the beaten gold, Her lips as coral red, Her roving eyes were blue and bold, And her heart with pride was fed.
For she was proud of her father's ships, As she watched them gayly pass; And pride looked out of her eyes and lips When she saw herself in the glass.
"Now come," she said to the captains ten, Who were ready to put to sea, "Ye are all my men and my father's men, And what will ye do for me?" "Go north and south, go east and west, And get me gifts," she said.
"And he who bringeth me home the best, With that man will I wed.
" So they all fared forth, and sought with care In many a famous mart, For satins and silks and jewels rare, To win that lady's heart.
She looked at them all with never a thought, And careless put them by; "I am not fain of the things ye brought, Enough of these have I.
" The last that came was the head of the fleet, His name was Jan Borel; He bent his knee at the lady's feet,-- In truth he loved her well.
"I've brought thee home the best i' the world, A shipful of Danzig corn!" She stared at him long; her red lips curled, Her blue eyes filled with scorn.
"Now out on thee, thou feckless kerl, A loon thou art," she said.
"Am I a starving beggar girl? Shall I ever lack for bread?" "Go empty all thy sacks of grain Into the nearest sea, And never show thy face again To make a mock of me.
" Then Jan Borel, he hoisted sail, And out to sea he bore; He passed the Helder in a gale And came again no more.
But the grains of corn went drifting down Like devil-scattered seed, To sow the harbor of the town With a wicked growth of weed.
The roots were thick and the silt and sand Were gathered day by day, Till not a furlong out from land A shoal had barred the way.
Then Stavoren town saw evil years, No ships could out or in, The boats lay rotting at the piers, And the mouldy grain in the bin.
The grass-grown streets were all forlorn, The town in ruin stood, The lady's velvet gown was torn, Her rings were sold for food.
Her father had perished long ago, But the lady held her pride, She walked with a scornful step and slow, Till at last in her rags she died.
Yet still on the crumbling piers of the town, When the midnight moon shines free, woman walks in a velvet gown And scatters corn in the sea.

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

Americas Prosperity

 They tell me thou art rich, my country: gold
In glittering flood has poured into thy chest;
Thy flocks and herds increase, thy barns are pressed
With harvest, and thy stores can hardly hold
Their merchandise; unending trains are rolled
Along thy network rails of East and West;
Thy factories and forges never rest; 
Thou art enriched in all things bought and sold! 

But dost thou prosper? Better news I crave.
O dearest country, is it well with thee Indeed, and is thy soul in health? A nobler people, hearts more wisely brave, And thoughts that lift men up and make them free,-- These are prosperity and vital wealth!

Written by Henry Van Dyke |

Homeward Bound

 Home, for my heart still calls me;
Home, through the danger zone;
Home, whatever befalls me,
I will sail again to my own! 

Wolves of the sea are hiding
Closely along the way,
Under the water biding
Their moment to rend and slay.
Black is the eagle that brands them, Black are their hearts as the night, Black is the hate that sends them To murder but not to fight.
Flower of the German Culture, Boast of the Kaiser's Marine, Choose for your emblem the vulture, Cowardly, cruel, obscene! Forth from her sheltered haven Our peaceful ship glides slow, Noiseless in flight as a raven, Gray as a hoodie crow.
She doubles and turns in her bearing, Like a twisting plover she goes; The way of her westward faring Only the captain knows.
In a lonely bay concealing She lingers for days, and slips At dusk from her covert, stealing Thro' channels feared by the ships.
Brave are the men, and steady, Who guide her over the deep,-- British mariners, ready To face the sea-wolf's leap.
Lord of the winds and waters, Bring our ship to her mark, Safe from this game of hide-and-seek With murderers in the dark!

Written by Henry Van Dyke |



Lover of beauty, walking on the height 
Of pure philosophy and tranquil song; 
Born to behold the visions that belong 
To those who dwell in melody and light; 
Milton, thou spirit delicate and bright!
What drew thee down to join the Roundhead throng
Of iron-sided warriors, rude and strong, 
Fighting for freedom in a world half night? 

Lover of Liberty at heart wast thou,
Above all beauty bright, all music clear:
To thee she bared her bosom and her brow,
Breathing her virgin promise in thine ear,
And bound thee to her with a double vow, --
Exquisite Puritan, grave Cavalier! 


The cause, the cause for which thy soul resigned 
Her singing robes to battle on the plain, 
Was won, O poet, and was lost again; 
And lost the labour of thy lonely mind
On weary tasks of prose.
What wilt thou find To comfort thee for all the toil and pain? What solace, now thy sacrifice is vain And thou art left forsaken, poor, and blind? Like organ-music comes the deep reply: "The cause of truth looks lost, but shall be won.
For God hath given to mine inward eye Vision of England soaring to the sun.
And granted me great peace before I die, In thoughts of lowly duty bravely done.
" III O bend again above thine organ-board, Thou blind old poet longing for repose! Thy Master claims thy service not with those Who only stand and wait for his reward.
He pours the heavenly gift of song restored Into thy breast, and bids thee nobly close A noble life, with poetry that flows In mighty music of the major chord.
Where hast thou learned this deep, majestic strain, Surpassing all thy youthful lyric grace, To sing of Paradise? Ah, not in vain The griefs that won at Dante's side thy place, And made thee, Milton, by thy years of pain, The loftiest poet of the Saxon race!