The House of the Trees
& Other Poems

by Ethelwyn Wetherald


The Patient Earth


THE patient earth that loves the grass,
The flocks and herds that o’er it pass,
That guards the smallest summer nest
Within her scented bosom pressed,
And gives to beetle, moth, and bee


A lavish hospitality,
Still waits through weary years to bind
The hearts of suffering human kind.


How far we roamed away from her,
The tender mother of us all!


Yet ’mid the city’s noises stir
The sound of birds that call and call,
Wind melodies that rise and fall
Along the perfumed woodland wall
We looked upon with childhood’s eyes;


The ugly streets are all a blur,
And in our hearts are homesick cries. [Page 36]


The loving earth that roots the trees
So closely to her inmost heart,
Has rooted us as well as these,


Not long from her we live apart;
We draw upon a lengthening string,
For months perhaps, perhaps for years,
And plume ourselves that we are free,
And then—we hear a robin sing


Where starving grass shows stunted spears,
Or haycart moving fragrantly
Where creaking tavern sign-boards swing;
The man, too old and worn for tears,
Goes back to be a child again.



The greed that took us prisoner
First led our steps away from her;
For lust of gold we gave up life,
And sank heart-deep in worldly strife.
And when Success—belovèd name—


At last with faltering footsteps came,
The city’s rough, harsh imps of sound
And Competition’s crush and cheat
Were in her wreath securely bound; [Page 37]
Her fruits still savored of the street,


Its choking dust, its wearied feet,
Her poorest like her richest prize
Was rotted o’er with envious eyes,
And sickened with the human heat
Of hands that strove to clutch it fast,


And struggling gave it up at last.
Not so where nature summer-crowned
Makes fields and woods a pleasure-ground,
Sky-blest, wind-kissed, and circled round
With waters lapsing cool and sweet.



O Earth, sweet Mother, take us back!
With woodland strength and orchard joy,
And river peace without alloy,
Flood us who on the city’s track
Have followed stifling sordid years,


Cleanse us with dew and meadow rain,
Till life’s horizon lights and clears,
And nature claims us once again. [Page 38]