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Henry van Dyke


(excerpted from "The Three Best Things")

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.

This poem is in the public domain.

Henry van Dyke (1852 - 1933) was born in Pennsylvania.  A nature lover and avid reader, he earned degrees from Princeton then served as a Presbyterian minister for more than 20 years. (He was considered one of the best preachers in New York City.) He eventually returned to Princeton, where he spent nearly 20 years as a professor of English--with a bit of service as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg and the Netherlands in between. A writer whose talent extended to many different genres, Henry's best known works are probably the lyrics of the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" and  the Christmas stories, "The Story of the Other Wise Man" and "The First Christmas Tree."  






Post New Comment:
rdfoto3: This was quoted to me by my father, who was citing his mother. I'm 77 and I've never forgotten it for it defined both parent and grandparent.
Posted 08/23/2020 10:20 AM
Yes, up there with Markham?s ?The Man with the Hoe.? No surprise van Dyke was a Presbyterian minister.
Posted 09/02/2019 08:37 AM
Larry Schug:
All work is sacred and important and should be acknowledged as such, including the work of poets.
Posted 09/02/2019 07:39 AM
Thank you for choosing a perfect poem for today. What wisdom.
Posted 09/02/2019 07:39 AM
Beautiful poem.
Posted 09/02/2019 07:18 AM

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