Henry Van Dyke

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

Work - Poem by Henry Van Dyke

Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
"This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
"Of all who live, I am the one by whom
"This work can best be done in the right way."

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.


Comments about Work by Henry Van Dyke

  • (9/13/2018 6:18:00 AM)


    My 6th grade teacher wrote the poem on the blackboard to be memorized by the class. (1938) I have referred to it many times in my career as a physician. Thank you for the reference and publication. (Report) Reply

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  • (4/22/2018 9:40:00 PM)


    Hi i just want to know if this is a poem or a sonnet.? (Report) Reply

  • (4/9/2018 11:59:00 PM)


    My dad when he was a boy had to memorize this poem when his teacher discovered he was not doing his schoolwork. I and my siblings were judiciously blessed with him reciting it to us whenever we did not apply ourselves as we ought. It was a gift that kept giving. :) (Report) Reply

  • (3/20/2018 2:43:00 PM)


    for me I can get a little frustrating at times when I know that I have a lot of work to do. this poem makes me realize that I should not get so worked up about it. (Report) Reply

    (7/31/2018 8:37:00 AM)

    My sixth grade teacher, Miss Shultz, made our class recite this poem and I’m still grateful to her! That was in 1950. I’m not sure my daughters were so grateful to hear me recite it years later...

  • Nora Elias-atchue (3/30/2017 1:55:00 PM)


    My Dear Old Dad would help me with my paperwork every week and he would cheerfully recite this poem. He has been gone now for almost 7 years and I can still see his smiling face and toothy grin and hear the pleasant lilt of his voice and see him seated at the big dining room table where we would do our work. It was more a reassurance to spend time with him and he was 83 and retired and we would find comfort in his continued engagement in what he recognized as productive activity. This was his secret to a long and happy life. I thank your website for finding this poem in its entirety so that I can memorize it and be reminded of the positive effects of a productive life in the search for true happiness. (Report) Reply

  • (10/7/2015 2:20:00 AM)


    beautifull poem on the sense of human endeavour (Report) Reply

  • (12/28/2014 6:59:00 PM)


    Love this poem. Has stayed with me forever! (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: work, heart, power



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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