Archive for December 28th, 2022

Time Is…

GC Myers- Tempus Pacis

Tempus Pacis– Currently at the Principle Gallery 

          Hours fly,
          Flowers die
          New days,
          New ways,
          Pass by.
          Love stays.
    Time is
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
    But for those who Love,
          Time is not.

Henry Van Dyke, For Katrina’s Sundial

You don’t hear much about Henry van Dyke (1852-1933) these days though he lived a life filled with achievement. He was a Princeton English professor, an influential Presbyterian clergyman, US Ambassador to Luxembourg and the Netherlands during WW I, and a widely read bestselling author and poet. Not to mention that he was good friend to many of the luminaries of that era including Helen Keller and Mark Twain, whose funeral he officiated in 1910. A big life.

Much of his literary output has not fared well in modern times. It’s considered a little old fashioned and sometimes a bit too religious– he was a clergyman so this is to be expected– for modern readers. I’ve got a few of his old books and they’re okay. Perhaps a bit dated and overtly sentimental, sometimes maudlin. There’s not a lot that fills the modern reader with excited inspiration and self-revelation, like the evergreen verses of Walt Whitman. But it’s well-composed and well-thought and there are gems among them.

For instance, the verse at the top was composed to be used an inscription on a sundial on the estate of a wealthy friend, thus the title For Katrina’s Sundial. The second verse part of it has become well known on its own as a poem called Time Is. It has been read at the funeral of Princess Diana and used on a London memorial to British victims of the 9/11 attacks, as well as inspiring a 1969 song from the rock group It’s a Beautiful Day.

Van Dyke also wrote the lyrics that were set to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy which became the hymn, Joyful Joyful We Adore You.

Now you know a little more about Henry van Dyke. Here’s the song using his poem from It’s a Beautiful Day, the San Francisco based band best known for the song White Bird which I have shared here in the past. This is a good old hippie era jam with passages that slightly recall Time Has Come Today from the Chambers Brothers.

Whatever time is, it’s time for me to go…

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