Published on Academy of American Poets (

Waterfall Sound

In the middle of the wood it starts,
Then over the wall and the meadow
And into our ears all day. But it departs—
Sometimes—like a shadow.

There is an instant when it grows
Too weak to climb a solid fence,
And creeps to find a crack. But the wind blows,
Scattering it hence

In whimpering fragments like the leaves
That every autumn drives before.
Then rain again in the hills—and the brook receives
It home with a roar.

From the middle of the wood again,
Over the wall and the meadow,
It comes one day to the minds of waiting men
Like a shadow.


This poem is in the public domain.


Mark Van Doren

Born June 13, 1894, Mark Van Doren was the son of a doctor and grew up in Illinois. He was a poet, novelist, and critic, and worked at The Nation from 1924–1928 and from 1935–1938. In 1940, Van Doren’s Collected Poems 1922–1938 won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He published numerous other notable books of poetry and nonfiction, including The Last Days of Lincoln (New York: Hill & Wang, 1959), Selected Poems (Holt, 1954), Nathaniel Hawthorne (W. Sloane Associates, 1949), The Noble Voice (Holt, 1945), Shakespeare (Holt, 1939), American and British Literature since 1890 (Appleton-Century,1939), Jonathan Gentry (A. & C. Boni, 1931), Spring Thunder (Thomas Seltzer, 1924), The Poetry of John Dryden (Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920). He was a member of the Society for the Prevention of World War III and a celebrated teacher at Columbia. Van Doren died in Torrington, Connecticut, on December 10, 1972. 

Date Published: 1924-01-01

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