Henry Jackson van Dyke Jr. was an American author, educator, and clergyman. His poetic style is based on intellectual brevity, strong atmosphere, and symbolic and figurative language.
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Famous Henry Van Dyke poems
A Parable Of Immortality
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength,
and I stand and watch until at last she hangs
like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says,
‘ There she goes! ‘
Gone from my sight… that is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and just as able to bear her load of living freight
to the place of destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment
when someone at my side says,
‘ There she goes! ‘
there are other eyes watching her coming…
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout…
‘ Here she comes! ‘
And that is dying.
The Red Flower
In the pleasant time of Pentecost,
By the little river Kyll,
I followed the angler’s winding path
Or waded the stream at will,
And the friendly fertile German land
Lay round me green and still.
But all day long on the eastern bank
Of the river cool and clear,
Where the curving track of the double rails
Was hardly seen though near,
The endless trains of German troops
Went rolling down to Trier.
They packed the windows with bullet heads
And caps of hodden gray;
They laughed and sang and shouted loud
When the trains were brought to a stay;
They waved their hands and sang again
As they went on their iron way.
No shadow fell on the smiling land,
No cloud arose in the sky;
I could hear the river’s quiet tune
When the trains had rattled by;
But my heart sank low with a heavy sense
Of trouble,- I knew not why.
Then came I into a certain field
Where the devil’s paint-brush spread
‘Mid the gray and green of the rolling hills
A flaring splotch of red,-
An evil omen, a bloody sign,
And a token of many dead.
I saw in a vision the field-gray horde
Break forth at the devil’s hour,
And trample the earth into crimson mud
In the rage of the Will to Power,-
All this I dreamed in the valley of Kyll,
At the sign of the blood-red flower.
The Vain King
In robes of Tyrian blue the King was drest,
A jewelled collar shone upon his breast,
A giant ruby glittered in his crown —–
Lord of rich lands and many a splendid town.
In him the glories of an ancient line
Of sober kings, who ruled by right divine,
Were centred; and to him with loyal awe
The people looked for leadership and law.
Ten thousand knights, the safeguard of the land,
Lay like a single sword within his hand;
A hundred courts, with power of life and death,
Proclaimed decrees justice by his breath;
And all the sacred growths that men had known
Of order and of rule upheld his throne.
Proud was the King: yet not with such a heart
As fits a man to play a royal part.
Not his the pride that honours as a trust
The right to rule, the duty to be just:
Not his the dignity that bends to bear
The monarch’s yoke, the master’s load of care,
And labours like the peasant at his gate,
To serve the people and protect the State.
Another pride was his, and other joys:
To him the crown and sceptre were but toys,
With which he played at glory’s idle game,
To please himself and win the wreaths of fame.
The throne his fathers held from age to age
Built for King Martin to diplay at will,
His mighty strength and universal skill.
No conscious child, that, spoiled with praising, tries
At every step to win admiring eyes, —-
No favourite mountebank, whose acting draws
From gaping crowds loud thunder of applause,
Was vainer than the King: his only thirst
Was to be hailed, in every race, the first.
When tournament was held, in knightly guise
The King would ride the lists and win the prize;
When music charmed the court, with golden lyre
The King would take the stage and lead the choir;
In hunting, his the lance to slay the boar;
In hawking, see his falcon highest soar;
In painting, he would wield the master’s brush;
In high debate, —–“the King is speaking! Hush!”
Thus, with a restless heart, in every field
He sought renown, and found his subjects yield
As if he were a demi-god revealed.
But while he played the petty games of life
His kingdom fell a prey to inward strife;
Corruption through the court unheeded crept,
And on the seat of honour justice slept.
The strong trod down the weak; the helpless poor
Groaned under burdens grievous to endure.
The nation’s wealth was spent in vain display,
And weakness wore the nation’s heart away.
Yet think not Earth is blind to human woes —
Man has more friends and helpers than he knows;
And when a patient people are oppressed,
The land that bore them feels it in her breast.
Spirits of field and flood, of heath and hill,
Are grieved and angry at the spreading ill;
The trees complain together in the night,
Voices of wrath are heard along the height,
And secret vows are sworn, by stream and strand,
To bring the tyrant low and liberate the land.
But little recked the pampered King of these;
He heard no voice but such as praise and please.
Flattered and fooled, victor in every sport,
One day he wandered idly with his court
Beside the river, seeking to devise
New ways to show his skill to wondering eyes.
There in the stream a patient fisher stood,
And cast his line across the rippling flood.
His silver spoil lay near him on the green:
“Such fish,” the courtiers cried, “were never seen!”
“Three salmon larger than a cloth-yard shaft—
“This man must be the master of his craft!”
“An easy art!” the jealous King replied:
“Myself could learn it better, if I tried,
“And catch a hundred larger fish a week—
“Wilt thou accept the challenge, fellow? Speak!”
The fisher turned, came near, and bent his knee:
“‘Tis not for kings to strive with such as me;
“Yet if the King commands it, I obey.
“But one condition of the strife I pray:
“The fisherman who brings the least to land
“Shall do whate’er the other may command.”
Loud laughed the King: “A foolish fisher thou!
“For I shall win and rule thee then as now.”
So to Prince John, a sober soul, sedate
And slow, King Martin left the helm of state,
While to the novel game with eager zest
He all his time and all his powers addrest.
Sure such a sight was never seen before!
For robed and crowned the monarch trod the shore;
His golden hooks were decked with feathers fine,
His jewelled reel ran out a silken line.
With kingly strokes he flogged the crystal stream,
Far-off the salmon saw his tackle gleam;
Careless of kings, they eyed with calm disdain
The gaudy lure, and Martin fished in vain.
On Friday, when the week was almost spent,
He scanned his empty creel with discontent,
Called for a net, and cast it far and wide,
And drew — a thousand minnows from the tide!
Then came the fisher to conclude the match,
And at the monarch’s feet spread out his catch —
A hundred salmon, greater than before —
“I win!” he cried: “the King must pay the score.”
Then Martin, angry, threw his tackle down:
“Rather than lose this game I’d lose me crown!”
“Nay, thou has lost them both,” the fisher said;
And as he spoke a wondrous light was shed
Around his form; he dropped his garments mean,
And in his place the River-god was seen.
“Thy vanity hast brought thee in my power,
“And thou shalt pay the forfeit at this hour:
“For thou hast shown thyself a royal fool,
“Too proud to angle, and too vain to rule.
“Eager to win in every trivial strife, —
“Go! Thou shalt fish for minnows all thy life!”
Wrathful, the King the scornful sentence heard;
He strove to answer, but he only chirr-r-ed:
His Tyrian robe was changed to wings of blue,
His crown became a crest, — away he flew!
And still, along the reaches of the stream,
The vain King-fisher flits, an azure gleam, —
You see his ruby crest, you hear his jealous scream.
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!
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.
The Name Of France
Give us a name to fill the mind
With the shining thoughts that lead mankind,
The glory of learning, the joy of art, —
A name that tells of a splendid part
In the long, long toil and the strenuous fight
Of the human race to win its way
From the feudal darkness into the day
Of Freedom, Brotherhood, Equal Right, —
A name like a star, a name of light.
I give you France!
Give us a name to move the heart
With a warmer glow and a swifter flood, —
A name like the sound of a trumpet, clear,
And silver-sweet, and iron-strong,
That calls three million men to their feet,
Ready to march, and steady to meet
The foes who threaten that name with wrong, —
A name that rings like a battle-song.
I give you France!
Give us a name to move the heart
With the strength that noble griefs impart,
A name that speaks of the blood outpoured
To save minkind from the sway of the sword, —
A name that calls on the world to share
In the burden of sacrificial strife
Where the cause at stake is the world’s free life
Andthe rule of the people everywhere, —
A name like a vow, a name like a prayer.
I give you France!
Sea-Gulls Of Manhattan
Children of the elemental mother,
Born upon some lonely island shore
Where the wrinkled ripples run and whisper,
Where the crested billows plunge and roar;
Long-winged, tireless roamers and adventurers,
Fearless breasters of the wind and sea,
In the far-off solitary places
I have seen you floating wild and free!
Here the high-built cities rise around you;
Here the cliffs that tower east and west,
Honeycombed with human habitations,
Have no hiding for the sea-bird’s nest:
Here the river flows begrimed and troubled;
Here the hurrying, panting vessels fume,
Restless, up and down the watery highway,
While a thousand chimneys vomit gloom.
Toil and tumult, confiict and confusion,
Clank and clamor of the vast machine
Human hands have built for human bondage —
Yet amid it all you float serene;
Circling, soaring, sailing, swooping lightly
Down to glean your harvest from the wave;
In your heritage of air and water,
You have kept the freedom Nature gave.
Even so the wild-woods of Manhattan
Saw your wheeling flocks of white and grey;
Even so you fluttered, followed, floated,
Round the Half-Moon creeping up the bay;
Even so your voices creaked and chattered,
Laughing shrilly o’er the tidal rips,
While your black and beady eyes were glistening
Round the sullen British prison-ships.
Children of the elemental mother,
Fearless floaters ‘mid the double blue,
From the crowded boats that cross the ferries
Many a longing heart goes out to you.
Though the cities climb and close around us,
Something tells us that our souls are free,
While the sea-gulls fly above the harbor,
While the river flows to meet the sea!
Portrait And Reality
If on the closed curtain of my sight
My fancy paints thy portrait far away,
I see thee still the same, by night or day;
Crossing the crowded street, or moving bright
‘Mid festal throngs, or reading by the light
Of shaded lamp some friendly poet’s lay,
Or shepherding the children at their play,–
The same sweet self, and my unchanged delight.
But when I see thee near, I recognize
In every dear familiar way some strange
Perfection, and behold in April guise
The magic of thy beauty that doth range
Through many moods with infinite surprise,–
Never the same, and sweeter with each change.
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.
I would not even ask my heart to say
If I could love some other land as well
As thee, my country, had I felt the spell
Of Italy at birth, or learned to obey
The charm of France, or England’s mighty sway.
I would not be so much an infidel
As once to dream, or fashion words to tell,
What land could hold my love from thee away.
For like a law of nature in my blood
I feel thy sweet and secret sovereignty,
And woven through my soul thy vital sign.
My life is but a wave, and thou the flood;
I am a leaf and thou the mother-tree;
Nor should I be at all, were I not thine.
The Heavenly Hills Of Holland
The heavenly hills of Holland,–
How wondrously they rise
Above the smooth green pastures
Into the azure skies!
With blue and purple hollows,
With peaks of dazzling snow,
Along the far horizon
The clouds are marching slow.
No mortal foot has trodden
The summits of that range,
Nor walked those mystic valleys
Whose colors ever change;
Yet we possess their beauty,
And visit them in dreams,
While the ruddy gold of sunset
From cliff and canyon gleams.
In days of cloudless weather
They melt into the light;
When fog and mist surround us
They’re hidden from our sight;
But when returns a season
Clear shining after rain,
While the northwest wind is blowing,
We see the hills again.
The old Dutch painters loved them,
Their pictures show them clear,
Old Hobbema and Ruysdael,
Van Goyen and Vermeer.
Above the level landscape,
Rich polders, long-armed mills,
Canals and ancient cities,–
Float Holland’s heavenly hills.
Knight-errant of the Never-ending Quest,
And Minstrel of the Unfulfilled Desire;
For ever tuning thy frail earthly lyre
To some unearthly music, and possessed
With painful passionate longing to invest
The golden dream of Love’s immortal fire
In mortal robes of beautiful attire,
And fold perfection to thy throbbing breast!
What wonder, Shelley, if the restless wave
Should claim thee and the leaping flame consume
Thy drifted form on Viareggio’s beach?
Fate to thy body gave a fitting grave,
And bade thy soul ride on with fiery plume,
Thy wild song ring in ocean’s yearning speech!
The Bells Of Malines
AUGUST 17, 1914
The gabled roofs of old Malines
Are russet red and gray and green,
And o’er them in the sunset hour
Looms, dark and huge, St. Rombold’s tower.
High in that rugged nest concealed,
The sweetest bells that ever pealed,
The deepest bells that ever rung,
The lightest bells that ever sung,
Are waiting for the master’s hand
To fling their music o’er the land.
And shall they ring to-night, Malines?
In nineteen hundred and fourteen,
The frightful year, the year of woe,
When fire and blood and rapine flow
Across the land from lost Liege,
Storm-driven by the German rage?
The other carillons have ceased:
Fallen is Hasselt, fallen Diest,
From Ghent and Bruges no voices come,
Antwerp is silent, Brussels dumb!
But in thy belfry, O Malines,
The master of the bells unseen
Has climbed to where the keyboard stands,–
To-night his heart is in his hands!
Once more, before invasion’s hell
Breaks round the tower he loves so well,
Once more he strikes the well-worn keys,
And sends aerial harmonies
Far-floating through the twilight dim
In patriot song and holy hymn.
O listen, burghers of Malines!
Soldier and workman, pale beguine,
And mother with a trembling flock
Of children clinging to thy frock,–
Look up and listen, listen all!
What tunes are these that gently fall
Around you like a benison?
“The Flemish Lion,” “Brabanconne,”
“O brave Liege,” and all the airs
That Belgium in her bosom bears.
Ring up, ye silvery octaves high,
Whose notes like circling swallows fly;
And ring, each old sonorous bell,–
” Jesu,” “Maria,” “Michael!”
Weave in and out, and high and low,
The magic music that you know,
And let it float and flutter down
To cheer the heart of the troubled town.
Ring out, “Salvator,” lord of all,–
“Roland” in Ghent may hear thee call!
O brave bell-music of Malines,
In this dark hour how much you mean!
The dreadful night of blood and tears
Sweeps down on Belgium, but she hears
Deep in her heart the melody
Of songs she learned when she was free.
She will not falter, faint, nor fail,
But fight until her rights prevail
And all her ancient belfries ring
“The Flemish Lion,” “God Save the King!”
Jeanne D’Arc Returns
What hast thou done, O womanhood of France,
Mother and daughter, sister, sweetheart, wife,
What hast thou done, amid this fateful strife,
To prove the pride of thine inheritance
In this fair land of freedom and romance?
I hear thy voice with tears and courage rife,–
Smiling against the swords that seek thy life,–
Make answer in a noble utterance:
“I give France all I have, and all she asks.
Would it were more! Ah, let her ask and take:
My hands to nurse her wounded, do her tasks,–
My feet to run her errands through the dark,–
My heart to bleed in triumph for her sake,–
And all my soul to follow thee, Jeanne d’Arc!”
The Hermit Thrush
O wonderful! How liquid clear
The molten gold of that ethereal tone,
Floating and falling through the wood alone,
A hermit-hymn poured out for God to hear!
0 holy, holy, holy! Hyaline,
Long light, low light, glory of eventide!
Love far away, far up. — up, — love divine!
Little love, too, for ever, ever, near,
Warm love, earth love, tender love of mine,
In the leafy dark where you hide,
You are mine, — mine, — mine!
Ah, my belovèd, do you feel with me
The hidden virtue of that melody,
The rapture and the purity of love,
The heavenly joy that can not find the word?
Then, while we wait again to hear the bird,
Come very near to me, and do not move, —
Now, hermit of the woodland, fill anew
The cool, green cup of air with harmony,
And we will drink the wine of love with you.
THE MOONBEAMS over Arno’s vale in silver flood were pouring,
When first I heard the nightingale a long-lost love deploring.
So passionate, so full of pain, it sounded strange and eerie;
I longed to hear a simpler strain,—the wood-notes of the veery.
The laverock sings a bonny lay above the Scottish heather;
It sprinkles down from far away like light and love together;
He drops the golden notes to greet his brooding mate, his dearie;
I only know one song more sweet,—the vespers of the veery.
In English gardens, green and bright and full of fruity treasure,
I heard the blackbird with delight repeat his merry measure:
The ballad was a pleasant one, the tune was loud and cheery,
And yet, with every setting sun, I listened for the veery.
But far away, and far away, the tawny thrush is singing;
New England woods, at close of day, with that clear chant are ringing:
And when my light of life is low, and heart and flesh are weary,
I fain would hear, before I go, the wood-notes of the veery.
Remarks About Kings
“God said I am tired of kings.” — EMERSON
God said, “I am tired of kings,”–
But that was a long while ago!
And meantime man said, “No,–
I like their looks in their robes and rings.”
So he crowned a few more,
And they went on playing the game as before,
Fighting and spoiling things.
Man said, “I am tired of kings!
Sons of the robber-chiefs of yore,
They make me pay for their lust and their war;
I am the puppet, they pull the strings;
The blood of my heart is the wine they drink.
I will govern myself for awhile I think,
And see what that brings!”
Then God, who made the first remark,
Smiled in the dark.
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.”
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!
Just to give up, and trust
All to a Fate unknown,
Plodding along life’s road in the dust,
Bounded by walls of stone;
Never to have a heart at peace;
Never to see when care will cease;
Just to be still when sorrows fall-
This is the bitterest lesson of all.
Just to give up, and rest
All on a Love secure,
Out of a world that’s hard at the best,
Looking to heaven as sure;
Ever to hope, through cloud and fear,
In darkest night, that the dawn is near;
Just to wait at the Master’s feet-
Surely, now, the bitter is sweet.
The Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Where’s your kingdom, little king?
Where the land you call your own,
Where your palace and your throne?
Fluttering lightly on the wing
Through the blossom-world of May,
Whither lies your royal way,
Far to northward lies a land
Where the trees together stand
Closely as the blades of wheat
When the summer is complete.
Rolling like an ocean wide
Over vale and mountainside,
Balsam, hemlock, spruce and pine,-
All those mighty trees are mine.
There’s a river flowing free,-
All its waves belong to me.
There’s a lake so clear and bright
Stars shine out of it all night;
Rowan-berries round it spread
Like a belt of coral red.
Never royal garden planned
Fair as my Canadian land!
There I build my summer nest,
There I reign and there I rest,
While from dawn to dark I sing,
Happy kingdom! Lucky king!
Back again, my little king!
Is your happy kingdom lost
To the rebel knave, Jack Frost?
Have you felt the snow-flakes sting?
Houseless, homeless in October,
Whither now? Your plight is sober,
Far to southward lie the regions
Where my loyal flower-legions
Hold possession of the year,
Filling every month with cheer.
Christmas wakes the winter rose;
New Year daffodils unclose;
Yellow jasmine through the wood
Flows in February flood,
Dropping from the tallest trees
Golden streams that never freeze.
Thither now I take my flight
Down the pathway of the night,
Till I see the southern moon
Glisten on the broad lagoon,
Where the cypress’ dusky green,
And the dark magnolia’s sheen,
Weave a shelter round my home.
There the snow-storms never come;
There the bannered mosses gray
Like a curtain gently sway,
Hanging low on every side
Round the covert inhere I bide,
Till the March azalea glows,
Royal red and heavenly rose,
Through the Carolina glade
Where my winter home is made.
There I hold my southern court,
Full of merriment and sport:
There I take my ease and sing,
Happy kingdom! Lucky king!
Little boaster, vagrant king,
Neither north nor south is yours,
You’ve no kingdom that endures!
Wandering every fall and spring,
With your ruby crown so slender,
Are you only a Pretender,
Never king by right divine
Ruled a richer realm than mine!
What are lands and golden crowns,
Armies, fortresses and towns,
Jewels, sceptres, robes and rings,-
What are these to song and wings?
Everywhere that I can fly,
There I own the earth and sky;
Everywhere that I can sing,
There I’m happy as a king.
A Ballad Of Santa Claus
Among the earliest saints of old, before the first Hegira,
I find the one whose name we hold, St. Nicholas of Myra:
The best-beloved name, I guess, in sacred nomenclature,—
The patron-saint of helpfulness, and friendship, and good-nature.
A bishop and a preacher too, a famous theologian,
He stood against the Arian crew and fought them like a Trojan:
But when a poor man told his need and begged an alms in trouble,
He never asked about his creed, but quickly gave him double.
Three pretty maidens, so they say, were longing to be married;
But they were paupers, lack-a-day, and so the suitors tarried.
St. Nicholas gave each maid a purse of golden ducats chinking,
And then, for better or for worse, they wedded quick as winking.
Once, as he sailed, a storm arose; wild waves the ship surrounded;
The sailors wept and tore their clothes, and shrieked “We’ll all be drownded!”
St. Nicholas never turned a hair; serenely shone his halo;
He simply said a little prayer, and all the billows lay low.
The wicked keeper of an inn had three small urchins taken,
And cut them up in a pickle-bin, and salted them for bacon.
St. Nicholas came and picked them out, and put their limbs together,—
They lived, they leaped, they gave a shout, “St. Nicholas forever!”
And thus it came to pass, you know, that maids without a nickel,
And sailor-lads when tempest blow, and children in a pickle,
And every man that’s fatherly, and every kindly matron,
In choosing saints would all agree to call St. Nicholas patron.
He comes again at Christmas-time and stirs us up to giving;
He rings the merry bells that chime good-will to all the living;
He blesses every friendly deed and every free donation;
He sows the secret, golden seed of love through all creation.
Our fathers drank to Santa Claus, the sixth of each December,
And still we keep his feast because his virtues we remember.
Among the saintly ranks he stood, with smiling human features,
And said, “Be good! But not too good to love your fellow-creatures!”