Out of a jutting rock, wind blown,
a birch tree braves the world alone.
A crevice in the granite first
captured the seed; a wave immersed
that tiny embryo. The sun
warmed it — and thus was life begun.
Scant food the passing breezes give
and yet that tree contrives to live!
Cruel the clutch of granite gray,
yet the brave roots from day to day
into the great stone deeper creep,
a surer hold on life to keep.
Twisted and bent some limbs appear,
but still undaunted year by year
those roots in cheerless channels sunk
courageously support the trunk
and green against the lake and sky,
a birch tree catches every eye!
Man thinks he knows what nature wills.
But much he plants the winter kills,
while far away from human care
and on a cliff by storms swept bare,
denied the commonest of needs,
a birch tree silently succeeds!
In every path of timber you
will always find a tree or two
that would have fallen long ago,
borne down by wind or age or snow,
had not another neighbor tree
held outs its arms in sympathy
and caught the tree that the storm had hurled
to earth. So, neighbors, is the world.
In every patch of timber stand
Samaritans of forest land:
the birch, the maple, oak and pine,
the fir the cedar, all in line.
In every wood, unseen, unknown,
they bear the burdens of their own
and bear as well another form,
some neighbor stricken in the storm.
Shall tree be nobler to their kind
than men, who boast the noble mind?
Shall there exist within the wood
this great eternal brotherhood
of oak and pine, of hill and fen,
and not within the hearts of men?
God grant that men are like to these,
and brothers, brotherly as trees.
In honor of the US National Literacy Awareness Month I’ll publish
this verse from one of America’s best-loved poets.
THE APPLE TREE
by Edgar Guest
When an apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat,
there isn’t any structure in the land that’s got it beat.
There’s nothing man has builded with the beauty or the charm
that can touch the simple grandeur of the monarch of the farm.
There’s never any picture from a human being’s brush
that has ever caught the redness of a single apple’s blush.
When an apple tree’s in blossom it is glorious to see,
but that’s just a hint, at springtime, of the better things to be;
that is just a fairy promise from the Great Magician’s wand
of the wonders and the splendors that are waiting just beyond
the distant edge of summer; just a forecast of the treat
when the apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat.
Architects of splendid vision long have labored on the earth
and have raised their dreams in marble and we’ve marveled at their worth;
long the spires of costly churches have looked upward at the sky;
rich in promise and in beauty, they have cheered the passer-by.
But I’m sure there’s nothing finer for the eye of man to meet
than an apple tree that’s ready for the world to come and eat.
There’s the promise of the apples, red and gleaming in the sun,
like the medals worn by mortals as rewards for labors done,
and the big arms stretched wide open with a welcome warm and true
in a way that sets you thinking it’s intended just for you.
There is nothing with a beauty so entrancing, so complete,
as an apple tree that’s ready for the world to come and eat.
Aflutter in a chilly wind
its pale round leaves barely show
above the thick prairie grass
yet the tiny poplar tree
hangs on in its hostile world
like a derelict’s child
living on hard city streets
grabbing what it can.