ODE FOR THE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF PRINCETON COLLEGE
October 21, 1896
Into the dust of the making of man
Spirit was breathed when his life began,
Lifting him up from his low estate,
With masterful passion, the wish to create.
Out of the dust of his making, man
Fashioned his works as the ages ran;
Fortress, and palace, and temple, and tower,
Filling the world with the proof of his power.
Over the dust that awaits him, man,
Building the walls that his pride doth plan,
Dreams they will stand in the light of the sun
Bearing his name till Time is done.
The monuments of mortals
Are as the glory of the grass;
Through Time’s dim portals
A voiceless, viewless wind doth pass,
The blossoms fall before it in a day,
The forest monarchs year by year decay,
And man’s great buildings slowly fade away.
One after one,
They pay to that dumb breath
The tribute of their death,
And are undone.
The towers incline to dust,
The massive girders rust,
The domes dissolve in air,
The pillars that upbear
The lofty arches crumble, stone by stone,
While man the builder looks about him in despair,
For all his works of pride and power are overthrown.
A Voice came from the sky:
“Set thy desires more high.
Thy buildings fade away
Because thou buildest clay.
Now make the fabric sure
With stones that will endure!
Hewn from the spiritual rock,
The immortal towers of the soul
At Death’s dissolving touch shall mock,
And stand secure while
(Henry Van Dyke)
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Based on Keywords: princeton, upbear, fiftieth, buildest