University of Virginia Library



“Ay,—no!—My brain is addled yet;
With last night's flagons—full I forget.
But look.—Well, well, it so must be,
For there it is, and, sure, I see.
Yon Lilac is all right, no doubt,
Tho' never before, Rip—spied him out!
But where's the willow?—Dear, dear me!
This is the hill-side,—sure; the stream
Flows yon; and that, wife's house would seem
But for the silence. Well, may be,
For this one time—Ha! do I see
Those burdocks going in at door?
They only loitered round before!
No,—ay!—Bless me, it is the same!
But yonder Lilac! how now came—
Rip, where does Rip van Winkle live?
Lilac?—a lilac? Why, just there,
If my cracked memory don't deceive,
'Twas I set out a Lilac fair,
Yesterday morning, seems to me.
Yea, sure, that it might thrive and come
To plead for me with wife, tho' dumb.
I found it—dear me—well, well, well,
Squirrels and angels they can tell!
My head!—whose head?—Ah, Rip, (I'm Rip)
That lilac was a little slip,
And yonder lilac is a tree!”


But why rehearse in every section
The withered good-fellow's resurrection,
Happily told by happiest Irving
Never from genial verity swerving;
And, more to make the story rife,
By Jefferson acted true to life.
Me here it but behooves to tell
Of things that postumously fell.
It came to pass as years went on
(An Indian file in stealthy flight
With purpose never man has known)
A villa brave transformed the sight
Of Rip's abode to nothing gone,
Himself remanded into night.
Each June the owner joyance found
In one prized tree that held its ground,
One tenant old where all was new,—
Rip's Lilac to its youth still true.
Despite its slant ungainly trunk
Atwist and black like strands in junk,
Annual yet it flowered aloft
In juvenile pink, complexion soft.
That owner hale, long past his May,
His children's children—every one
Like those Rip romped with in the sun—
Merrily plucked the clusters gay.


The place a stranger scented out
By Boniface told in vinous way—
“Follow the fragrance!” Truth to own
Such reaching wafture ne'er was blown
From common Lilac. Came about
That neighbors, unconcerned before
When bloomed the tree by lowly door,
Craved now one little slip to train;
Neighbor from neighbor begged again.
On every hand stem shot from slip,
Till, lo, that region now is dowered
Like the first Paradise embowered,
Thanks to the poor good-for-nothing Rip!
Some think those parts should bear his name;
But no—the blossoms take the fame.
Slant finger-posts by horsemen scanned
Point the green miles—To Lilac Land.
Go ride there down one charmful lane,
O reader mine, when June's at best,
A dream of Rip shall slack the rein,
For there his heart flowers out confessed.
And there you'll say,—O, hard ones, truce!
See, where man finds in man no use,
Boon Nature finds one—Heaven be blest!