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The Planting of the Apple-Tree

COME let us plant the apple-tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade; Wide let its hollow bed be made; There gently lay the roots and there Sift the dark mould with kindly care 5 And press it o'er them tenderly As round the sleeping infant's feet We softly fold the cradle sheet; So plant we the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree? 10 Buds which the breath of summer days Shall lengthen into leafy sprays; Boughs where the thrush with crimson breast Shall haunt and sing and hide her nest; We plant upon the sunny lea 15 A shadow for the noontide hour A shelter from the summer shower When we plant the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree? Sweets for a hundred flowery springs 20 To load the May-wind's restless wings When from the orchard row he pours Its fragrance through our open doors; A world of blossoms for the bee Flowers for the sick girl's silent room 25 For the glad infant sprigs of bloom We plant with the apple-tree.
What plant we in this apple-tree! Fruits that shall swell in sunny June And redden in the August noon 30 And drop when gentle airs come by That fan the blue September sky While children come with cries of glee And seek them where the fragrant grass Betrays their bed to those who pass 35 At the foot of the apple-tree.
And when above this apple-tree The winter stars are quivering bright And winds go howling through the night Girls whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth 40 Shall peel its fruit by cottage-hearth And guests in prouder homes shall see Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine And golden orange of the line The fruit of the apple-tree.
45 The fruitage of this apple-tree Winds and our flag of stripe and star Shall bear to coasts that lie afar Where men shall wonder at the view And ask in what fair groves they grew; 50 And sojourners beyond the sea Shall think of childhood's careless day And long long hours of summer play In the shade of the apple-tree.
Each year shall give this apple-tree 55 A broader flush of roseate bloom A deeper maze of verdurous gloom And loosen when the frost-clouds lower The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower; The years shall come and pass but we 60 Shall hear no longer where we lie The summer's songs the autumn's sigh In the boughs of the apple-tree.
And time shall waste this apple-tree.
Oh when its aged branches throw 65 Thin shadows on the ground below Shall fraud and force and iron will Oppress the weak and helpless still? What shall the tasks of mercy be Amid the toils the strifes the tears 70 Of those who live when length of years Is wasting this little apple-tree? Who planted this old apple-tree? The children of that distant day Thus to some aged man shall say; 75 And gazing on its mossy stem The gray-haired man shall answer them: A poet of the land was he, Born in the rude but good old times; 'T is said he made some quaint old rhymes 80 On planting the apple-tree.

Poem by William Cullen Bryant
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