Friday, May 8, 2009

May well be my book find of the year............

I did not mean to go looking for a new book......but there I was,at our local library.......and I was drawn to the on-going library sale, which of course is rather small, being in a small town. I fingered through the tiny children's section.......then the magnet drew me to my favorite section, "old" or "antique" books. That's where we find the paperback or hardcover. Some ARE old........some are brand new.

Sarah & Maddelyn stood by my side.........all of us hoping to glimpse a treasure before the others........I have raised my own competition. Sigh. Matthew & Anne are even MORE competitive than these two girls. And, I saw it first.......and reached my hand out........

It is such a beautiful copy! I did not even open it till I was is 98 years old! Henry Van Dyke, of The Gift & the Magi and The Other Wise Man fame............was an excellent poet! I had no idea.

What a treat!!!

I have been perusing it ever since........reading poems aloud to whoever will listen, especially the two little boys who are my captives just before our morning read aloud. :)

Van Dyke even wrote poems about poets! He has tributes to Tennyson, Longfellow, Hugo, Aldrich, Browning, Keats, Wordworth & more!

He has "story poems", too. Here is the first poem I read aloud to all who would listen, while they all were getting ready to leave for their college classes:

The Foolish Fir-Tree


Henry Van Dyke

A tale that the poet Rückert told

To German children, in days of old;

Disguised in a random, rollicking rhyme

Like a merry mummer of ancient time,

And sent, in its English dress, to please

The little folk of the Christmas trees.

A little fir grew in the midst of the wood

Contented and happy, as young trees should.

His body was straight and his boughs were clean;

And summer and winter the bountiful sheen

Of his needles bedecked him, from top to root,

In a beautiful, all-the-year, evergreen suit.


But a trouble came into his heart one day,

When he saw that the other trees were gay

In the wonderful raiment that summer weaves

Of manifold shapes and kinds of leaves:

He looked at his needles so stiff and small,

And thought that his dress was the poorest of all.

Then jealousy clouded the little tree's mind,

And he said to himself, "It was not very kind

"To give such an ugly old dress to a tree!

"If the fays of the forest would only ask me,

"I'd tell them how I should like to be dressed,—

"In a garment of gold, to bedazzle the rest!"

So he fell asleep, but his dreams were bad.

When he woke in the morning, his heart was glad;

For every leaf that his boughs could hold

Was made of the brightest beaten gold.

I tell you, children, the tree was proud;

He was something above the common crowd;

And he tinkled his leaves, as if he would say

To a pedlar who happened to pass that way,

"Just look at me! don't you think I am fine? "

And wouldn't you like such a dress as mine?"

"Oh, yes!" said the man, "and I really guess

I must fill my pack with your beautiful dress."

So he picked the golden leaves with care,

And left the little tree shivering there.


"Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?"

The fir-tree said, "I forgot that thieves

"Would be sure to rob me in passing by.

"If the fairies would give me another try,

"I'd wish for something that cost much less,

"And be satisfied with glass for my dress!"

Then he fell asleep; and, just as before,

The fairies granted his wish once more.

When the night was gone, and the sun rose clear,

The tree was a crystal chandelier;

And it seemed, as he stood in the morning light,

That his branches were covered with jewels bright.

"Aha!" said the tree. "This is something great!"

And he held himself up, very proud and straight;

But a rude young wind through the forest dashed,

In a reckless temper, and quickly smashed

The delicate leaves. With a clashing sound

They broke into pieces and fell on the ground,

Like a silvery, shimmering shower of hail,

And the tree stood naked and bare to the gale.


Then his heart was sad; and he cried, "Alas

"For my beautiful leaves of shining glass!

"Perhaps I have made another mistake

"In choosing a dress so easy to break.

"If the fairies only would hear me again

"I'd ask them for something both pretty and plain:

"It wouldn't cost much to grant my request,—

"In leaves of green lettuce I'd like to be dressed!"

By this time the fairies were laughing, I know;

But they gave him his wish in a second; and so

With leaves of green lettuce, all tender and sweet,

The tree was arrayed, from his head to his feet.

"I knew it!" he cried, "I was sure I could find

"The sort of a suit that would be to my mind.

"There's none of the trees has a prettier dress,

"And none as attractive as I am, I guess."

But a goat, who was taking an afternoon walk,

By chance overheard the fir-tree's talk.

So he came up close for a nearer view;—

"My salad!" he bleated, "I think so too!

"You're the most attractive kind of a tree,

"And I want your leaves for my five-o'clock tea."

So he ate them all without saying grace,

And walked away with a grin on his face;

While the little tree stood in the twilight dim,

With never a leaf on a single limb.


Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak—

He was so ashamed that he could not speak.

He knew at last that he had been a fool,

To think of breaking the forest rule,

And choosing a dress himself to please,

Because he envied the other trees.

But it couldn't be helped, it was now too late,

He must make up his mind to a leafless fate!

So he let himself sink in a slumber deep,

But he moaned and he tossed in his troubled sleep,

Till the morning touched him with joyful beam,

And he woke to find it was all a dream.

For there in his evergreen dress he stood,

A pointed fir in the midst of the wood!

His branches were sweet with the balsam smell,

His needles were green when the white snow fell.

And always contented and happy was he,—

The very best kind of a Christmas tree.

Isn't that just wonderful?! Couldn't you just see the pictures Van Dyke was painting for us with his words? I love it! I am so happy to have discovered this jewel of a book!

Here are two poems from the book...........he was big on patriotism, based on quite a number of his poems.

Ah, Van Dyke speaks my heart.......sigh.

Have a great day!

Read some poetry!

Let me know what poem you found!

God bless!

Love, Chari


Gloria said...

What a great find! So much better than the old sequal to Lorna Doon that Allen found in an attic. Oh,uninteresting :(. And I thought it was great because it was old. I guess you still can't judge a book by it's cover, even if it looks old and wise.
I won't mind if you feel inclined to post more of these :)Don't work too hard!

Chari said...

Oh, gloria........I would love for you to come visit and see all of my wonderful collection!

Anytime you have a working vehicle........come on up!

You may NEED to visit me desperately in the summer *wink*

It is much COOLER up where I live! :)