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Poem by Henry Van Dyke

When Tulips Bloom


WHEN tulips bloom in Union Aquare,
And timid breaths of vernal air
    Go wandering down the dusty town, 
Like children lost in Vanity Fair;

When every long, unlovely row
Of westward houses stands aglow,
    And leads the eyes to sunset skies 
Beyond the hills where green trees grow;

Then wearly seems the street parade,
And weary books, and weary trade:
    I'm only wishing to go a-fishing; 
For this the month of May was made.


I guess the pussy-willows now
Are creeping out on every bough
    Along the brook; and robins look 
For early worms behind the plough.

The thistle-birds have changed their dun,
For yellow coats, to match the sun;
    And in the same array of flame 
The Dandelion Show's begun.

The flocks of young anemones
Are dancing round the budding trees:
    Who can help wishing to go a-fishing 
In days as full of joy as these?


I think the meadow-lark's clear sound
Leaks upward slowly from the ground,
    While on the wing the bluebirds ring 
Their wedding-bells to woods around.

The flirting chewink calls his dear
Behind the bush; and very near,
    Where water flows, where green grass grows, 
Song-sparrows gently sing, "Good cheer."

And, best of all, through twilight's calm
The hermit-thrush repeats his psalm.
    How mush I'm wishing to go a-fishing 
In days so sweet with music's balm!


'Tis not a proud desire of mine;
I ask for nothing superfine;
    No heavy weight, no salmon great, 
To break the record, or my line.

Only an idle little stream,
Whose amber waters softly gleam,
    Where I may wade, through woodland shade, 
And cast the fly, and loaf, and dream:

Only a trout or two, to dart
From foaming pools, and try my art:
    'Tis all I'm wishing--old-fashioned fishing, 
And just a day on Nature's heart.

Henry Van Dyke

Henry Van Dyke's other poems:
  1. A Legend of Service
  2. Patria
  3. Sea-Gulls of Manhattan
  4. The Ancestral Dwelling
  5. Christ of Everywhere

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