Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

THE TREE


 

Was there no beauty, then, in barren stem,
       No symmetry in jagged twig and limb,
That slow discarding lustrous diadem
       Lay etched upon the sunset’s orange rim?

Were it, too, better never to have been

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       A thing leaf-crowned and wholly, freshly fair;
A being all benignant, purely green,
       Sheltered and sheltering, innocent of care?

Strange—that for half the year the tree must go
       Uncrowned, unclad, soul-shivering to the blast,

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Each glossy leaf be trodden deep in snow,
       Each acorn to the ground be roughly cast!

Careless of coming frost aloft it looks,
       All confident of many another spring,
O’er dry, brown fields and saddened, silent brooks,

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       And woods where not a bird is left to sing.

This the great secret of its grand content,
       This the full meaning of its giant calm,
This the true measure of the reverent
       Straight mien that springtime’s sweetest airs embalm.

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O, to have been the tree—and not the man!
       To grow in ever wheeling, circling pride,
Conscious of all the noble, gracious plan
       That smiled at Doubt and gave a God to guide!

Think! to have harboured orange oriole,

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       And flaming tanager and chattering jay,
And wise gray sparrow—would not this console
       The weariness born of many a leafless day?

Since it were known—they come again in five
       Or six months’ time of waiting, then to wait,

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Even through songless seasons, were to thrive
       On sweet probation, though in sombre state.

Were it not bliss, some melting morn in June,
       To look and see among one’s crumpled leaves—
Late to unfold, but deep at heart in tune

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       With all of green the young wood interweaves—

A flash of living light, incarnate gem,
       That holds a voice in quivering, ruffled throat,
That hangs, a jewel, on the budding stem.
       That sings a song of Hope—Death’s antidote?

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