Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OH, WHEN I DIE, by WILLIAM LAIRD BROWN

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

OH, WHEN I DIE, by            
First Line: Poet names his burial-stead
Last Line: I wonder, those bright other orchards are?
Alternate Author Name(s): Laird, William
Subject(s): Apple Trees; Death; Trees; Dead, The

The poet names his burial-stead.
That string is frayed by long-stilled hands.
And few, I guess, have the bed
Their half-forgotten verse demands.
To worn string and futile plea
Listen awhile: when I am dead
After all, bury me
Underneath an Apple Tree.

Underneath an Apple Tree --
Let the grim roots work their will --
Grip, suck, strain, distil.
The debtor's body for the debt,
For all the happily heavy score
Of many a revel, against me set
Plain on the Orchard Tavern's door.
What path of mine but knows my debt?
How far apart my cores were thrown!
Town, meadow, peak, shore,
Road, trail, wayside stone,
Hearth, desk, even bed
(Shudder, Prissy) knew my needs,
And not a core but showed the seeds.
Milk and honey, wine and bread!
Wherefore, in the Roman way
Deal with him who cannot pay --
The debtor's body for the debt:
After all, bury me
(If that is all, and this is me)
Underneath an Apple Tree.

There is more, as I think:
When I am done with meat and drink
Such as beasts have, there shall be
Other Apples waiting me
No bodiless ghost can eat of them,
So I shall haunt my burial-tree
Until the first spring-noon is warm:
My body's master-essences
Shall climb through bole and branch and stem,
Slip through soft blossom-throats, and form
About me, at command. How far,
I wonder, those bright Other Orchards are?

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