Henry Van Dyke

(10 November 1852 – 10 April 1933 / Germantown, Pennsylvania)

Milton - Poem 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."


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!

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Read poems about / on: lyric, music, lost, poetry, song, beauty, freedom, pain, lonely, truth, peace, sun, light, god, world, night

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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