Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, UNDER THE TREES, by ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

UNDER THE TREES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The wonderful, strong, angelic trees
Last Line: Come now, let 's tell the tale beneath the old roof-tree.
Subject(s): Trees

THE wonderful, strong, angelic trees,
With their blowing locks and their bared great knees
And nourishing bosoms, shout all together,
And rush and rock through the glad wild weather.
They are so old they teach me,
With their strong hands they reach me,
Into their breast my soul they take,
And keep me there for wisdom's sake.
They teach me little prayers;
To-day I am their child;
The sweet breath of their innocent airs
Blows through me strange and wild.
So many things they know,
So learned with the ebb and flow
By which the seasons come and go.
Still the forefather stands
With unforgetting eyes,
Forever holding in his tranquil hands
The fruit that makes us wise.
So many things they bear,
Whisperings small and dear!
The little lizard has a voice clear,
Squirrel and mole.
A wild and pleasant speech
Our Lord has given to each.
Dear masters, pray you teach
The language of the woodchuck in his hole.
So many things they praise
In earnest, worshipful ways,
The Little Moment and the Ancient of Days.
To one they yield a flower
That blossoms for an hour;
The other they praise with all their singing blood
That they so long have stood.
So many things they love.
The frail ecstatic gnats that move
Like planets whirling in a sky,
These do they lean above
Even like Heaven, while they flame and die.
Here are our neighbors, the good weeds,
And, look you, all the brown industrious seeds
With busy workmanship achieve
Green citadels of grass,
And minarets and domes of shining flowers.
Absorbed and radiant, perpetually they pass.
The little workers with their subtle powers
Lay their foundations in the sod,
While the tree, that knows all from so long ago,
Watches the busy weaving to and fro,
And smiles on them like God.
Now I am brave again,
Strong again and pure.
I have washed my spirit clean of men,
I am established, sure.
I have drunk the waters of delight
From fountains that endure
Yes, I have bathed my soul
Where the rushing leaves carouse.
I have drunk the air that freely flows
And washes their green boughs.
I never feel afraid
Among the trees;
Of trees are houses made;
And even with these,
Unhewn, untouched, unseen,
Is something homelike in the safe sweet green,
Intimate in the shade.
Something remembered haunts me,
A familiar aspect suddenly enchants me;
These things were so
When I was here, hundreds of years ago.
Oh, not to-day have I the first time seen
This pool of sunshine, this bending green,
This knotted soil, and underneath the stone
The small gray water singing all alone.
But when my naked soul came wandering down
On the pilgrimage, kind hands did succor me
And clothed me in the guise of grass or soil,
Or a gnat maybe! Making me a shelter
Of root or stone! For surely in their eyes
I see a look of query and surmise,
A begging for love,
As humble parents look upon a child
Returned more wise than they
And strive with all they know to please him so
That he will stay.
Ah, he has traveled far, and many years been gone,
Yet still he is their son, their son, their son
My wistful kinsfolk, I will not forget
Your simple patois! Oh, 't were shame on me
To grow oblivious to my father's speech!
But I will go
With men, yes, with the angels, slipping so
Into the old vernacular! They will smile
To hear the sweet provincialisms come
With tender thoughts of home.
And God Himself
When I am praising Him, with the great mirth
And radiant ceremonials, will be kind,
That even His Heaven has not rid my mind
Of the quaint customs of my native earth.
We are all brothers! Come, let 's rest awhile
In the great kinship. Underneath the trees
Let's be at home once more, with birds and bees
And gnats and soil and stone. With these I must
Acknowledge family ties. Our mother, the dust,
With wistful and investigating eyes
Searches my soul for the old sturdiness,
Valor, simplicity! Stout virtues these,
We learned at her dear knees.
Friend, you and I
Once played together in the good old days.
Do you remember? Why, brother, down what wild ways
We traveled, when --
That 's right! Draw close to me!
Come now, let 's tell the tale beneath the old roof-tree.

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