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About this poet

Henry van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1873 and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1877. He served as a pastor in Rhode Island and New York City for many years before becoming a professor of English at Princeton University in 1900. Van Dyke was the author of The Red Flower: Poems Written in War Time (Copp Clark Co., 1917) as well as numerous books of sermons, essays, and fiction. He died in Princeton, New Jersey, on April 10, 1933.

Mare Liberum

You dare to say with perjured lips, 
    "We fight to make the ocean free"? 
You, whose black trail of butchered ships 
    Bestrews the bed of every sea 
    Where German submarines have wrought 
    Their horrors! Have you never thought,—
What you call freedom, men call piracy! 

Unnumbered ghosts that haunt the wave 
    Where you have murdered, cry you down; 
And seamen whom you would not save, 
    Weave now in weed-grown depths a crown 
    Of shame for your imperious head,—
    A dark memorial of the dead,—
Women and children whom you left to drown

Nay, not till thieves are set to guard 
    The gold, and corsairs called to keep 
O'er peaceful commerce watch and ward, 
    And wolves to herd the helpless sheep, 
    Shall men and women look to thee—
    Thou ruthless Old Man of the Sea—
To safeguard law and freedom on the deep! 

In nobler breeds we put our trust: 
    The nations in whose sacred lore 
The "Ought" stands out above the "Must," 
    And Honor rules in peace and war. 
    With these we hold in soul and heart, 
    With these we choose our lot and part, 
Till Liberty is safe on sea and shore.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Henry van Dyke

Henry van Dyke

Henry van Dyke was born on November 10, 1852. The author of The Red Flower: Poems Written in War Time (Copp Clark Co., 1917) as well as numerous books of sermons, essays, and fiction, he died in 1933.

by this poet

poem
Peace without Justice is a low estate,—
A coward cringing to an iron Fate!
But Peace through Justice is the great ideal,—
We’ll pay the price of war to make it real.

poem
“Lights out" along the land,
“Lights out” upon the sea.
The night must put her hiding hand
O’er peaceful towns where children sleep,
And peaceful ships that darkly creep
Across the waves, as if they were not free.

The dragons of the air,
The hell-hounds of the deep,
Lurking and prowling everywhere,
Go forth to
poem
                June, 1914

In the pleasant time of Pentecost,
    By the little river Kyll,
I followed the angler’s winding path
    Or waded the stream at will,
And the friendly fertile German land
    Lay round me green and still.

But all day long on the eastern bank
    Of the river cool and clear,