Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE AWAKENING OF THE TREES, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE AWAKENING OF THE TREES, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: First, when all the boughs, still heavy-laden, swished and rattled
Last Line: "we knew it all -- we knew it all amany months ago!"
Subject(s): Trees

First, when all the boughs, still heavy-laden, swished and rattled
In the smothered, sighing forest where the sleet and snowfall battled,
Where by day the crow croaked only
And by night the moon blinked wanly,
Even there the rumor traveled and the deep-bound root-elves tattled.
"Change evolving!" so they said.
"Riddles solving!" In the dead
And dungeoned deeps of earth we are questioning ourselves.
We are answering, 'Rebirth!'
We are forming, we are swarming, we are climbing!" said the elves.

And the larch unto the maple, and the chestnut to the beech
In their beck'ning, bowing language passed the secret each to each,
Passed the whispered, thrilling message
Till they thrilled again with presage
Of the wizard wonders pending and, in low, unending speech,
"Bonds are breaking!" said the trees.
"Something waking! Lo, a breeze
And a bird-chirp of last year. ...Is it that that shall befall,
Or mere memory we hear?
We are trembling, we are wondering and waiting!" said they all.

And old Winter, who had brooded on the autumn groves denuded,
And, with dotard kindness shining, laid his cloak for their attire,
Felt a sudden stir of fire
Run and ripple o'er the land,
(Warming life or kindling fire?)
Which he did not understand;
But it irked the age-chilled sire
In a way he could not stand.
So he rose from long reclining
And he gathered up his raiment --
All his drifted white attire --
And he stopped not for repayment,
But he fled on winds loud whining, winging Northward in his ire.

Could it be? The sun came singing down the hills with breezy weather;
All the scents of April bringing, all the birds of April winging,
All the showers of April flinging -- shower and shine and song together!
Could it be? Could it be?
How they babbled, tree to tree,
How they loosed their pent garrulity and rustled, tree to tree --
In what lively conversation, in what wordy jubilation
Did they babble, did they chatter, did they gossip, tree to tree!
'We must dress us, we must dress us! We are most unkempt and frowsy,
For we cared not in the winter -- in the winter dull and drowsy!
But the birds, our little gallants,
On our branches twit and balance.
We must blossom forth in daintiness, no longer drab and drowsy!'
And daintily, oh daintily, from morning-time to twilight,
They prinked them in the sunlight, they blossomed in that shy light
With blossoms white and virginal, with blossoms pink and saucy,
With leafy fillets garlanded and streamers green and mossy.
With violets for their slipper-bows and sunlight for adorning
They blossomed forth, each one of them, to greet the April morning!
And the little sap-elves chuckled,
'Mid the bloom swayed to and fro,
" 'Tis a most ecstatic morning, but we knew it long ago --
We knew it all -- we knew it all amany months ago!"

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