LONG BEAUTIFUL POEMS: “God of the open air” (about nature) by Henry Van Dyke (Please take your time to savor its words, they are nectar for the soul)

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God of the Open Air

I

Thou who hast made thy dwelling fair

With flowers beneath, above with starry lights,

And set thine altars everywhere,–

On mountain heights,

In woodlands dim with many a dream,

In valleys bright with springs,

And on the curving capes of every stream:

Thou who hast taken to thyself the wings

Of morning, to abide

Upon the secret places of the sea,

And on far islands, where the tide

Visits the beauty of untrodden shores,

Waiting for worshippers to come to thee

In thy great out-of-doors!

To thee I turn, to thee I make my prayer,

God of the open air.

II

Seeking for thee, the heart of man

Lonely and longing ran,

In that first, solitary hour,

When the mysterious power

To know and love the wonder of the morn

Was breathed within him, and his soul was born;

And thou didst meet thy child,

Not in some hidden shrine,

But in the freedom of the garden wild,

And take his hand in thine,–

There all day long in Paradise he walked,

And in the cool of evening with thee talked.

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III

Lost, long ago, that garden bright and pure,

Lost, that calm day too perfect to endure,

And lost the childlike love that worshipped and was sure!

For men have dulled their eyes with sin,

And dimmed the light of heaven with doubt,

And built their temple walls to shut thee in,

And framed their iron creeds to shut thee out.
But not for thee the closing of the door,

O Spirit unconfined!

Thy ways are free

As is the wandering wind,

And thou hast wooed thy children, to restore

 

Their fellowship with thee,

In peace of soul and simpleness of mind.

IV

Joyful the heart that, when the flood rolled by,

Leaped up to see the rainbow in the sky;

And glad the pilgrim, in the lonely night,

For whom the hills of Haran, tier on tier,

Built up a secret stairway to the height

Where stars like angel eyes were shining clear.
From mountain-peaks, in many a land and age,

Disciples of the Persian seer

Have hailed the rising sun and worshipped thee;

And wayworn followers of the Indian sage

Have found the peace of God beneath a spreading tree.
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But One, but One,–ah, child most dear,

And perfect image of the Love Unseen,–

Walked every day in pastures green,

And all his life the quiet waters by,

Reading their beauty with a tranquil eye.
To him the desert was a place prepared

For weary hearts to rest;

The hillside was a temple blest;

The grassy vale a banquet-room

Where he could feed and comfort many a guest.
With him the lily shared

The vital joy that breathes itself in bloom;

And every bird that sang beside the nest

Told of the love that broods o’er every living thing.
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He watched the shepherd bring

His flock at sundown to the welcome fold,

The fisherman at daybreak fling

His net across the waters gray and cold,

And all day long the patient reaper swing

His curving sickle through the harvest-gold.
So through the world the foot-path way he trod,

Drawing the air of heaven in every breath;

And in the evening sacrifice of death

Beneath the open sky he gave his soul to God.
Him will I trust, and for my Master take;

Him will I follow; and for his dear sake,

God of the open air,

To thee I make my prayer.

V

>From the prison of anxious thought that greed has builded,

>From the fetters that envy has wrought and pride has gilded,

>From the noise of the crowded ways and the fierce confusion,

>From the folly that wastes its days in a world of illusion,

(Ah, but the life is lost that frets and languishes there!)

I would escape and be free in the joy of the open air.
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By the breadth of the blue that shines in silence o’er me,

By the length of the mountain-lines that stretch before me,

By the height of the cloud that sails, with rest in motion,

Over the plains and the vales to the measureless ocean,

(Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes!)

Lead me out of the narrow life, to the peace of the hills

and the skies.
While the tremulous leafy haze on the woodland is spreading,

And the bloom on the meadow betrays where May has been treading;

While the birds on the branches above, and the brooks flowing under,

Are singing together of love in a world full of wonder,

(Lo, in the marvel of Springtime, dreams are changed into truth!)

Quicken my heart, and restore the beautiful hopes of youth.
By the faith that the flowers show when they bloom unbidden,

By the calm of the river’s flow to a goal that is hidden,

By the trust of the tree that clings to its deep foundation,

By the courage of wild birds’ wings on the long migration,

(Wonderful secret of peace that abides in Nature’s breast!)

Teach me how to confide, and live my life, and rest.
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For the comforting warmth of the sun that my body embraces,

For the cool of the waters that run through the shadowy places,

For the balm of the breezes that brush my face with their fingers,

For the vesper-hymn of the thrush when the twilight lingers,

For the long breath, the deep breath, the breath

of a heart without care,–

I will give thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!

VI

These are the gifts I ask

Of thee, Spirit serene:

Strength for the daily task,

Courage to face the road,

Good cheer to help me bear the traveller’s load,

And, for the hours of rest that come between,

An inward joy in all things heard and seen.
These are the sins I fain

Would have thee take away:

Malice, and cold disdain,

Hot anger, sullen hate,

Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,

And discontent that casts a shadow gray

On all the brightness of the common day.
These are the things I prize

And hold of dearest worth:

Light of the sapphire skies,

Peace of the silent hills,

Shelter of forests, comfort of the grass,

Music of birds, murmur of little rills,

Shadow of clouds that swiftly pass,

And, after showers,

The smell of flowers

And of the good brown earth,–

And best of all, along the way, friendship and mirth.
So let me keep

These treasures of the humble heart

In true possession, owning them by love;

And when at last I can no longer move

Among them freely, but must part

From the green fields and from the waters clear,

Let me not creep

Into some darkened room and hide

From all that makes the world so bright and dear;

But throw the windows wide

To welcome in the light;

And while I clasp a well-beloved hand,

Let me once more have sight

Of the deep sky and the far-smiling land,–

Then gently fall on sleep,

And breathe my body back to Nature’s care,

My spirit out to thee, God of the open air.

by Henry Van Dyke

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One Comment Add yours

  1. LindaP says:

    What a beautiful ,precious poem!

    Like

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