The Parting And The Coming Guest by Henry van Dyke

Who watched the worn-out Winter die?
Who, peering through the window-pane
At nightfall, under sleet and rain
Saw the old graybeard totter by?
Who listened to his parting sigh,
The sobbing of his feeble breath,
His whispered colloquy with Death,
And when his all of life was done
Stood near to bid a last good-bye?
Of all his former friends not one
Saw the forsaken Winter die.

Who welcomed in the maiden Spring?
Who heard her footfall, swift and light
As fairy-dancing in the night?
Who guessed what happy dawn would bring
The flutter of her bluebird’s wing,
The blossom of her mayflower-face
To brighten every shady place?
One morning, down the village street,
“Oh, here am I,” we heard her sing,–
And none had been awake to greet
The coming of the maiden Spring.

But look, her violet eyes are wet
With bright, unfallen, dewy tears;
And in her song my fancy hears
A note of sorrow trembling yet.
Perhaps, beyond the town, she met
Old Winter as he limped away
To die forlorn, and let him lay
His weary head upon her knee,
And kissed his forehead with regret
For one so gray and lonely,–see,
Her eyes with tender tears are wet.

And so, by night, while we were all at rest,
I think the coming sped the parting guest.


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