The Whippoorwhill Room

The Whip-Poor-Will

Do you remember, father,–
It seems so long ago,–
The day we fished together
Along the Pocono?
At dusk I waited for you,
Beside the lumber-mill,
And there I heard a hidden bird
That chanted, “whip-poor-will,”
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
Sad and shrill,–“_whippoorwill!_”The place was all deserted;
The mill-wheel hung at rest;
The lonely star of evening
Was quivering in the west;
The veil of night was falling;
The winds were folded still;
And everywhere the trembling air
Re-echoed “whip-poor-will!”
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
Sad and shrill,–“_whippoorwill!_”You seemed so long in coming,
I felt so much alone;
The wide, dark world was round me,
And life was all unknown;
The hand of sorrow touched me,
And made my senses thrill
With all the pain that haunts the strain
Of mournful whip-poor-will.
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
Sad and shrill,–“_whippoorwill!_”What did I know of trouble?
An idle little lad;
I had not learned the lessons
That make men wise and sad,
I dreamed of grief and parting,
And something seemed to fill
My heart with tears, while in my ears
Resounded “whip-poor-will.”
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
Sad and shrill,–“_whippoorwill!_”‘Twas but a shadowy sadness,
That lightly passed away;
But I have known the substance
Of sorrow, since that day.
For nevermore at twilight,
Beside the silent mill,
I’ll wait for you, in the falling dew,
And hear the whip-poor-will.
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
Sad and shrill,–“_whippoorwill!_”But if you still remember,
In that fair land of light,
The pains and fears that touch us
Along this edge of night,
I think all earthly grieving,
And all our mortal ill,
To you must seem like a boy’s sad dream,
Who hears the whip-poor-will.
“_Whippoorwill! whippoorwill!_”
A passing thrill–“_whippoorwill!_”

© Henry Van Dyke. All rights reserved

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