A Ballad of Claremont Hill

Henry Van Dyke

    The roar of the city is low,         
    Muffled by new-fallen snow,
And the sign of the wintry moon is small and round and still.         
    Will you come with me to-night,       
    To see a pleasant sight
Away on the river-side, at the edge of Claremont Hill?

    “And what shall we see there,
    But streets that are new and bare,
And many a desolate place that the city is coming to fill;
    And a soldier's tomb of stone,
    And a few trees standing alone—
Will you walk for that through the cold, to the edge of Claremont Hill?”

    But there's more than that for me,
    In the place that I fain would see:
There's a glimpse of the grace that helps us all to bear life's ill,
    A touch of the vital breath
    That keeps the world from death,
A flower that never fades, on the edge of Claremont Hill.

    For just where the road swings round,
    In a narrow strip of ground,
Where a group of forest trees are lingering fondly still,
    There's a grave of the olden time,
    When the garden bloomed in its prime,
And the children laughed and sang on the edge of Claremont Hill.

    The marble is pure and white,
    And even in this dim light,
You may read the simple words that are written there if you will;
    You may hear a father tell
    Of the child he loved so well,
A hundred years ago, on the edge of Claremont Hill.

     The tide of the city has rolled
    Across that bower of old,
And blotted out the beds of the rose and the daffodil;
    But the little playmate sleeps,
    And the shrine of love still keeps
A record of happy days, on the edge of Claremont Hill.

     The river is pouring down
    To the crowded, careless town,
Where the intricate wheels of trade are grinding on like a mill;
    But the clamorous noise and strife
    Of the hurrying waves of life
Flow soft by this haven of peace on the edge of Claremont Hill.

     And after all, my friend,
    When the tale of our years shall end,
Be it long or short, or lowly or great, as God may will,
    What better praise could we hear,
    Than this of the child so dear:
You have made my life more sweet, on the edge of Claremont Hill?

December, 1896.

Claremont Hill is now covered mainly by the campus of Columbia University. Some of it is part of Riverside Park.

The soldiers' tomb of stone is that of Ulysses S. Grant.

The marble "grave of olden time" is the Amiable Child Memorial, erected in 1797 by a grieving father George Pollock, to commemorate his five-year old son St Clair, who fell to his death from the cliffs by Claremont Hill, into the river.