Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
by Henry Van Dyke
Dear Aldrich, now November's mellow days
Have brought another Festa round to you,
You can't refuse a loving-cup of praise
From friends the fleeting years have bound to you.
Here come your Marjorie Daw, your dear Bad Boy,
Prudence, and Judith the Bethulian,
And many more, to wish you birthday joy,
And sunny hours, and sky caerulean!
Your children all, they hurry to your den,
With wreaths of honour they have won for you,
To merry-make your threescore years and ten.
You, old? Why, life has just begun for you!
There's many a reader whom your silver songs
And crystal stories cheer in loneliness.
What though the newer writers come in throngs?
You're sure to keep your charm of only-ness.
You do your work with careful, loving touch, --
An artist to the very core of you, --
You know the magic spell of "not-too-much ":
We read, -- and wish that there was more of you.
And more there is: for while we love your books
Because their subtle skill is part of you;
We love you better, for our friendship looks
Behind them to the human heart of you.
November 24, 1906.
THIS is the house where little Aldrich read
The early pages of Life's wonder-book:
With boyish pleasure, in this ingle-nook
He watched the drift-wood fire of Fancy spread
Bright colours on the pictures, blue and red:
Boy-like he skipped the longer words, and took
His happy way, with searching, dreamful look
Among the deeper things more simply said.
Then, came his turn to write: and still the flame
Of Fancy played through all the tales he told,
And still he won the laurelled poet's fame
With simple words wrought into rhymes of gold.
Look, here's the face to which this house is frame, --
A man too wise to let his heart grow old!