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Orson Bean

The trap is man's armored character structure and there's only one way out of it. It's not drugs and it's not religion and it's not politics. It's going back to the old apple tree and trying to do better than Adam and Eve did.

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The Old Apple-Tree

THERE's a memory keeps a-runnin'
Through my weary head to-night,
An' I see a picture dancin'
In the fire-flames' ruddy-light;
'Tis the picture of an orchard
Wrapped in autumn's purple haze,
With the tender light about it
That I loved in other days.
An' a-standin' in a corner
Once again I seem to see
The verdant leaves an' branches
Of an old apple-tree.
You perhaps would call it ugly,
An' I don't know but it's so,
When you look the tree all over
Unadorned by memory's glow;
For its boughs are gnarled an' crooked,
An' its leaves are gettin' thin,
An' the apples of its bearin'
Wouldn't fill so large a bin
As they used to. But I tell you,
When it comes to pleasin' me,
It's the dearest in the orchard, —
Is that old apple-tree.
I would hide within its shelter,
Settlin' in some cosy nook,
Where no calls nor threats could stir me
From the pages o' my book.
Oh, that quiet, sweet seclusion
In its fulness passeth words!
It was deeper than the deepest
That my sanctum now affords.
Why, the jaybirds an' the robins,
They was hand in glove with me,
As they winked at me 'an warbled
In that old apple-tree.
It was on its sturdy branches
That in summers long ago
I would tie my swing an' dangle
In contentment to an' fro,
Idly dreaming' childish fancies,
Buildin' castles in the air,
Makin' o' myself a hero
Of romances rich an' rare.
I kin shet my eyes an' see it
Jest as plain as plain kin be,
That same old swing a-danglin'
To the old apple-tree.
There's a rustic seat beneath it
That I never kin forget.
It's the place where me an' Hallie —
Little sweetheart — used to set,
When we'd wander to the orchard
So's no listenin' ones could hear
As I whispered sugared nonsense
Into her little willin' ear.
Now my gray old wife is Hallie,
An' I'm grayer still than she,
But I'll not forget our courtin'
'Neath the old apple-tree,
Life for us ain't all been summer,
But I guess we've had our share
Of its flittin' joys an' pleasures,
An' a sprinklin' of its care.
Oft the skies have smiled upon us;
Then again we've seen 'em frown,
Though our load was ne'er so heavy
That we longed to lay it down.
But when death does come a-callin',
This my last request shall be, —
That they'll bury me an' Hallie
'Neath the old apple-tree.

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The Moon and The Old Willow Tree

Sitting under the silver light of the Moon
Leaning on the Old Willow tree
Watching as the world passes by

Reflecting on our lives

Watching the stars as they remind us of our hopes and dreams
Our triumphs and our loses
Wishing we could go back

To the days when
All
Was simpler

When our lives
Were filled with innocent
Bliss

But we cannot change the past

All that matters now
Is living
In this moment

Sitting under the sliver light of the Moon
Leaning on the Old Willow tree

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The Old Peach Tree

Under the old peach tree
Hearing the buzz of bees
Looking up at pink blossoms so sweet
Watching pink petals fall at my feet
Under the old peach tree almost fallen down
I can hear every sound as the sun goes down
I hear somewhere the song of a mocking bird
The sweetest song I ever heard
As I lean against the old peach tree
I think of things that used to be
This old tree brings me back to my childhood
And the many peaches I ate that were so good
Old peach tree I wish you could talk
Whisper to me some of your thoughts
But instead you fill my heart with your beauty
As I smell the perfume of your blossoms so fruity
I wonder how much longer you'll be here.
How much longer my heart you'll cheer
I hope to lean against you many a spring
And feel the peace that you bring.

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60 Year-Old Apple Tree

I am eating from a 60 year-old apple tree,
And my father-in-law is 80 years old;
But it is like the free-will offering to get what i need.
Artistic craftsmanship and the ability to teach,
The dexterity of every skilled person is needed here;
But with the impetus act from every manner of works!
Detail by detail and step by step,
But the days will be long when you do bring me your love.

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Near the old chestnut tree

I idly wished upon a falling star
far away in the night sky
and glimpsed your ghost
passing by

under a silver moon
with fair hair streaming
down your cheeks
and you were glowing white
as if shimmering

and still your voice
was filled with love
and soft almost as the breeze
blowing above my head
through the old chestnut tree

and sadly we had to part
at the start of day
and your goodbye
still lingers with me.

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09 - Honour under the Old Oak Tree

Lay low under the old oak tree
Ready to move, ready to break free
Lay low until the dead of night
When the moon awakens and the time is right
When the wolf howls at the crescent moon
And the nightingale sings that old familiar tune
The oldest act of a gentleman's chivalry
Is portrayed to the woman under the old oak tree
The meeting of a woman and her forbidden lover
Stolen moments they devour to be with each other
Never their hands intertwined for others to see
Just un-denying love under the old oak tree
Never permitted unguarded smiles for other to see
Just un-denying love under the old oak tree

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The Old Dead Tree

The old dead tree stood
gnarled weather torn;
its limbs were now brittle.
What stories could it tell
of the centuries it had lived,
the passing lives it had seen,
and the storms it had weathered
when it was young and strong.
When its foliage was green
and gave shelter from the rain.
Now it stands bare and broken,
a sorry sight to be seen.
It must have been beautiful
when it was young
with its canopy of green,
and a nesting place for little birds
among its evergreen.
Now they only used it
as a resting place whenever they pass by.
The old dead tree,
which had seen so much life.

17 September 2008

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An Old Apple Tree

I remember my next door neighbor
Defending her owner’s rights
Protecting a gnarly old apple tree
That had grown to great heights

Its strong branches extended
Into the backyard power lines
Workmen from the electric company
Declared... your tree is in decline

The best strategy would be removal
Problems could be solved in advance
Insuring that it wouldn't be a hazard
With folded arms she stated, 'Not a chance…'

That apple tree has a long history
To her it had status…it was a shrine
Her kids had built a tree house
Years ago…it was of superior design

The structure gave a sense of pride
It was their exclusive place
Time for dinner was a holler away
These memories she still embraced

Trim what in essential for safety
But the tree stays to kindly remind
An elevated abode no longer exists…
Yet, youthful laughter replays in her mind

8/21/09

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song - The Old Swing Tree

Park at Inch crossroads outside the new Church
And walk slowly southwards through beech hedge and birch
Turn left where the hanging tree once used to be
Straight into the war hidden there by the trees

Where soldiers and huts lined both sides of the Road
When bombs fell round here sixty five years ago
By Ash and by bluebell, old sycamore
Here where the past laps like waves on the shore


Take the wild pathway that hides the Lost Road
Towards the new village that would one day grow
And there by the verge you’d have found the swing tree
In silence, no kids swooping there wild and free

Nor pledging of love proudly carved in that tree
Those crudely cut letters for you and for me
And somewhere between times, free in the years
A few broken hearts, a few smiles and tears


So many dreams that would never come true
And not just for us but for everyone too
As time and the world bring us changes to rue
The gentle give way and the selfish break through

And here am I wondering, listening and lost
In search of all those precious moments long gone
Around the old swing tree, felled and away
By tracks of love carved too deeply to fade

08 02 08 Renfrew

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The Old Pine Tree

'Listen my child,' said the old pine
tree, to the little one nestling near,
'For the storm clouds troop together to-night,
and the wind of the north I hear
And perchance there may come some echo of
the music of long ago,
The music that rang when the White Host
sang, marching across the snow.'

'Up and away Saint George! up thro' the
mountain gorge,
Over the plain where the tempest blows, and
the great white flakes are flying
Down the long narrow glen! faster my merry
men,
Follow the trail, tho' shy moon hides, and
deeply the drifts are lying.'

'Ah! mother.' the little pine tree replied,
'you are dreaming again to-night
Of ghostly visions and phantom forms that for-
ever mock your sight
'Tis true moan of the winter wind comes
to my list'ning ear
But the White Host marching, I cannot see,
and their music I cannot hear.'

'When the northern skies were all aflame
where the trembling banners swung,
When up in the vaulted heavens the moon of
the Snow Shoe hung,
When the hurricane swept the hillside, and the
crested drifts ran high
Those were the nights,' said the old pine tree,
'the great White Host marched by.'

And the storm grew fiercer, fiercer, and the
snow went hissing past,
But the little pine tree still listened, till she
heard above the blast
The music her mother loved to hear in the
nights of the long ago
And saw in the forest the white-clad Host
marching across the snow.

And loud they sang as they tramped along of
the glorious bygone days
Whan valley and hill re-echeoed the snow-
shoer's hymn of praise
Till the shy moon gazed down smiling, and the
north wind pause to hear
And the old pine tree felt young again as the
little one nestling near.

'Up and away Saint George! up thro' the
mountain gorge.
Over the plain where the tempest blows, and
the great white flakes are flying.
Down the long narrow glen! faster my merry
men.
Follow the trail, tho' the shy moon hides, and
deeply the drifts are lying.'

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The Way Out

'There must be some way out,' they say.
'There must be some way out!
We've fallen on an evil day;
That we no longer doubt.
But surely there's some magic rare
To banish this dull load of care,
And strengthen out defences.
We'll find it, yet, if we but look;
But this is sure: By hook or crook,
We won't cut down expenses!'

How like a harried housewife these
Wild politicians seem.
'Oh, George!' she cries. 'Don't scold so, please!
You must find some shrewd scheme.
There surely must be some way out.
What of those deals you talked about?
Are all your plans pretences?
I want a frock; I want a hat.
My parties? Bridge debts? What of that?
I can't cut down expenses!'

But George he knows, as well we know,
There is but one way out:
When incomes fall we must go slow.
Stern facts no man may flout.
And well we know, as George must know,
A pound note just so far will go.
And all men in their senses
Well realise there's but one way,
When we fall on an evil day
We've got to cut expenses.

The magic stone philosophers
Sought in the olden years,
May, by no chance, be ours, or hers,
For all our pleas and tears.
The only magic's common sense
Despite vague schemes and sly pretence,
Wrangles and differences.
When economic stress appears,
One warning echoes down the years:
'Go slow, and cut expenses!'

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The One Escape

Seven feet high.
Five feet across.
Infinite room to die.
The walls will keep you safe from the others
The almighty warden claims.
But am I afraid of the others?
Prisoners may be able to contort me, but
Prisoners can’t fill my soul with pains.
Prisoners can’t crush my heart with chains.
Why are prisoners so silent when the lights fade, you ask?
Isolation
Isolation that prickles your neck at night
Isolation that makes the darkness bite.
Screaming bounces off of the impenetrable walls of isolation,
And it hits you.
Echoes haunt your head
And the memories of not wanting to feel dead,
Disappear.
The bars
And the walls
And the dark
Erode your life.
How can you escape?
There is only
One
Way
Out
And it satisfies the walls
The grim reaper holds the ticket
His ticket leads out of the bars
And into the bright
Into the light
Pit of eternity.
The stone walls seem dreadfully close tonight
And this rope around my neck feels tight
This cold loneliness, my heart is full of it.
And I think I see the reaper with my ticket…

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If

If your shirt has no button

and your trousers are roughen,

if your jacket is so crushed

and your carpet needs a brush,

if you can’t find a clotheshorse

and all the time curse

There is only one way out:

to marry or divorce.

Larisa R (Odessa, Ukraine)

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Long Lonely Road

This is a dark and lonely road
We all walk
Its sometimes so dark
We cant find our way
We want to quit
But keep on walking
In the end it gets better
You just wait and see
Its hard
Trust me I know
But sometimes
We have to trust
We know where to go
And what to do
This road might be long
It may seem like your the only one walking it
It may seem so dark there is only one way out
Just keep walking
It gets brighter in the end
Trust me, I keep walking
But I'm not through just yet
But I know I will succeed
I will finish this long dark road
Alone I will be once more
But I will find one road
Where I can see
I am not yet done
It may take a while
But I can find other ways to walk
Take the walk alone and you will learn
That you can see better when you are scared
Stop and think even if death is right behind you
We will finish this dark road to find a brighter one.

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Pilgrim Soul

You said you could
You would
You should
And nothing could be this good again
Nothing could beat this
Nothing (x2)
Fracture and break
Falling from grace
Finding someone
You trust
Beleive for laid safe
Crawling
I'm Crawling
Hanging on
There's only one way out
Pushing up
There's only one way now
Cause yeah
Life's for livin'
So don't you give in
Don't you tear it apart
All that you face
You lose
Abuse
Carry the cross
The faith
The loss
The weight
The bruise
Falling
I'm falling
Moving around a town
a space
Climbing the wall
A tow
A train
A higher place
Calling
I'm calling
Hanging on
There's only one way out
Pushing up
There's only one way now
Cause hey
Life's for livin'
So don't you give in
Don't you tear it apart yeah
Hey
life's forgivin'
Don't you give in
Don't you tear it apart yeah
You said you could you should
And nothing could be this good again
Nothing could beat this
Nothing (x2)
Finding the strength
The sense
immense
Reverse
A sub
A moon
A light
A love
A friend
Something (x2)
Hanging on
There's only one way out
Pushing up
There's only one way now
Cause hey
Life's for for livin'
So don't you give in
Don't you tear it apart yeah
Hey
life's forgivin'
Do don't you give in
Don't you tear it apart yeah

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The Old-Home Folks

Such was the Child-World of the long-ago--
The little world these children used to know:--
Johnty, the oldest, and the best, perhaps,
Of the five happy little Hoosier chaps
Inhabiting this wee world all their own.--
Johnty, the leader, with his native tone
Of grave command--a general on parade
Whose each punctilious order was obeyed
By his proud followers.

But Johnty yet--
After all serious duties--could forget
The gravity of life to the extent,
At times, of kindling much astonishment
About him: With a quick, observant eye,
And mind and memory, he could supply
The tamest incident with liveliest mirth;
And at the most unlooked-for times on earth
Was wont to break into some travesty
On those around him--feats of mimicry
Of this one's trick of gesture--that one's walk--
Or this one's laugh--or that one's funny talk,--
The way 'the watermelon-man' would try
His humor on town-folks that wouldn't buy;--
How he drove into town at morning--then
At dusk (alas!) how he drove out again.

Though these divertisements of Johnty's were
Hailed with a hearty glee and relish, there
Appeared a sense, on his part, of regret--
A spirit of remorse that would not let
Him rest for days thereafter.--Such times he,
As some boy said, 'jist got too overly
Blame good fer common boys like us, you know,
To '_so_ciate with--less'n we 'ud go
And jine his church!'

Next after Johnty came
His little tow-head brother, Bud by name.--
And O how white his hair was--and how thick
His face with freckles,--and his ears, how quick
And curious and intrusive!--And how pale
The blue of his big eyes;--and how a tale
Of Giants, Trolls or Fairies, bulged them still
Bigger and bigger!--and when 'Jack' would kill
The old 'Four-headed Giant,' Bud's big eyes
Were swollen truly into giant-size.
And Bud was apt in make-believes--would hear
His Grandma talk or read, with such an ear
And memory of both subject and big words,
That he would take the book up afterwards
And feign to 'read aloud,' with such success
As caused his truthful elders real distress.
But he _must_ have _big words_--they seemed to give
Extremer range to the superlative--
That was his passion. 'My Gran'ma,' he said,
One evening, after listening as she read
Some heavy old historical review--
With copious explanations thereunto
Drawn out by his inquiring turn of mind,--
'My Gran'ma she's read _all_ books--ever' kind
They is, 'at tells all 'bout the land an' sea
An' Nations of the Earth!--An' she is the
Historicul-est woman ever wuz!'
(Forgive the verse's chuckling as it does
In its erratic current.--Oftentimes
The little willowy waterbrook of rhymes
Must falter in its music, listening to
The children laughing as they used to do.)

Who shall sing a simple ditty all about the Willow,
Dainty-fine and delicate as any bending spray
That dandles high the happy bird that flutters there to trill a
Tremulously tender song of greeting to the May.

Ah, my lovely Willow!--Let the Waters lilt your graces,--
They alone with limpid kisses lave your leaves above,
Flashing back your sylvan beauty, and in shady places
Peering up with glimmering pebbles, like the eyes of love.

Next, Maymie, with her hazy cloud of hair,
And the blue skies of eyes beneath it there.
Her dignified and 'little lady' airs
Of never either romping up the stairs
Or falling down them; thoughtful everyway
Of others first--The kind of child at play
That 'gave up,' for the rest, the ripest pear
Or peach or apple in the garden there
Beneath the trees where swooped the airy swing--
She pushing it, too glad for anything!
Or, in the character of hostess, she
Would entertain her friends delightfully
In her play-house,--with strips of carpet laid
Along the garden-fence within the shade
Of the old apple-trees--where from next yard
Came the two dearest friends in her regard,
The little Crawford girls, Ella and Lu--
As shy and lovely as the lilies grew
In their idyllic home,--yet sometimes they
Admitted Bud and Alex to their play,
Who did their heavier work and helped them fix
To have a 'Festibul'--and brought the bricks
And built the 'stove,' with a real fire and all,
And stovepipe-joint for chimney, looming tall
And wonderfully smoky--even to
Their childish aspirations, as it blew
And swooped and swirled about them till their sight
Was feverish even as their high delight.
Then Alex, with his freckles, and his freaks
Of temper, and the peach-bloom of his cheeks,
And '_amber-colored_ hair'--his mother said
'Twas that, when others laughed and called it '_red_'
And Alex threw things at them--till they'd call
A truce, agreeing ''t'uz n't red _ut-tall_!'

But Alex was affectionate beyond
The average child, and was extremely fond
Of the paternal relatives of his
Of whom he once made estimate like this:--
'_I'm_ only got _two_ brothers,--but my _Pa_
He's got most brothers'n you ever saw!--
He's got _seben_ brothers!--Yes, an' they're all my
Seben Uncles!--Uncle John, an' Jim,--an' I'
Got Uncle George, an' Uncle Andy, too,
An' Uncle Frank, an' Uncle Joe.--An' you
_Know_ Uncle _Mart_.--An', all but _him_, they're great
Big mens!--An' nen s Aunt Sarah--she makes eight!--
I'm got _eight_ uncles!--'cept Aunt Sarah _can't_
Be ist my _uncle_ 'cause she's ist my _aunt_!'

Then, next to Alex--and the last indeed
Of these five little ones of whom you read--
Was baby Lizzie, with her velvet lisp,--
As though her Elfin lips had caught some wisp
Of floss between them as they strove with speech,
Which ever seemed just in yet out of reach--
Though what her lips missed, her dark eyes could say
With looks that made her meaning clear as day.

And, knowing now the children, you must know
The father and the mother they loved so:--
The father was a swarthy man, black-eyed,
Black-haired, and high of forehead; and, beside
The slender little mother, seemed in truth
A very king of men--since, from his youth,
To his hale manhood _now_--(worthy as then,--
A lawyer and a leading citizen
Of the proud little town and county-seat--
His hopes his neighbors', and their fealty sweet)--
He had known outdoor labor--rain and shine--
Bleak Winter, and bland Summer--foul and fine.
So Nature had ennobled him and set
Her symbol on him like a coronet:
His lifted brow, and frank, reliant face.--
Superior of stature as of grace,
Even the children by the spell were wrought
Up to heroics of their simple thought,
And saw him, trim of build, and lithe and straight
And tall, almost, as at the pasture-gate
The towering ironweed the scythe had spared
For their sakes, when The Hired Man declared
It would grow on till it became a _tree_,
With cocoanuts and monkeys in--maybe!

Yet, though the children, in their pride and awe
And admiration of the father, saw
A being so exalted--even more
Like adoration was the love they bore
The gentle mother.--Her mild, plaintive face
Was purely fair, and haloed with a grace
And sweetness luminous when joy made glad
Her features with a smile; or saintly sad
As twilight, fell the sympathetic gloom
Of any childish grief, or as a room
Were darkened suddenly, the curtain drawn
Across the window and the sunshine gone.
Her brow, below her fair hair's glimmering strands,
Seemed meetest resting-place for blessing hands
Or holiest touches of soft finger-tips
And little roseleaf-cheeks and dewy lips.

Though heavy household tasks were pitiless,
No little waist or coat or checkered dress
But knew her needle's deftness; and no skill
Matched hers in shaping pleat or flounce or frill;
Or fashioning, in complicate design,
All rich embroideries of leaf and vine,
With tiniest twining tendril,--bud and bloom
And fruit, so like, one's fancy caught perfume
And dainty touch and taste of them, to see
Their semblance wrought in such rare verity.

Shrined in her sanctity of home and love,
And love's fond service and reward thereof,
Restore her thus, O blessed Memory!--
Throned in her rocking-chair, and on her knee
Her sewing--her workbasket on the floor
Beside her,--Springtime through the open door
Balmily stealing in and all about
The room; the bees' dim hum, and the far shout
And laughter of the children at their play,
And neighbor-children from across the way
Calling in gleeful challenge--save alone
One boy whose voice sends back no answering tone--
The boy, prone on the floor, above a book
Of pictures, with a rapt, ecstatic look--
Even as the mother's, by the selfsame spell,
Is lifted, with a light ineffable--
As though her senses caught no mortal cry,
But heard, instead, some poem going by.

The Child-heart is so strange a little thing--
So mild--so timorously shy and small.--
When _grown-up_ hearts throb, it goes scampering
Behind the wall, nor dares peer out at all!--
It is the veriest mouse
That hides in any house--
So wild a little thing is any Child-heart!

_Child-heart!--mild heart!--
Ho, my little wild heart!--
Come up here to me out o' the dark,
Or let me come to you!_

So lorn at times the Child-heart needs must be.
With never one maturer heart for friend
And comrade, whose tear-ripened sympathy
And love might lend it comfort to the end,--
Whose yearnings, aches and stings.
Over poor little things
Were pitiful as ever any Child-heart.

_Child-heart!--mild heart!--
Ho, my little wild heart!--
Come up here to me out o' the dark,
Or let me come to you!_

Times, too, the little Child-heart must be glad--
Being so young, nor knowing, as _we_ know.
The fact from fantasy, the good from bad,
The joy from woe, the--_all_ that hurts us so!
What wonder then that thus
It hides away from us?--
So weak a little thing is any Child-heart!

_Child-heart!--mild heart!--
Ho, my little wild heart!--
Come up here to me out o' the dark,
Or let me come to you!_

Nay, little Child-heart, you have never need
To fear _us_,--we are weaker far than you--
Tis _we_ who should be fearful--we indeed
Should hide us, too, as darkly as you do,--
Safe, as yourself, withdrawn,
Hearing the World roar on
Too willful, woful, awful for the Child-heart!

_Child-heart!--mild heart!--
Ho, my little wild heart!--
Come up here to me out o' the dark,
Or let me come to you!_

The clock chats on confidingly; a rose
Taps at the window, as the sunlight throws
A brilliant, jostling checkerwork of shine
And shadow, like a Persian-loom design,
Across the homemade carpet--fades,--and then
The dear old colors are themselves again.
Sounds drop in visiting from everywhere--
The bluebird's and the robin's trill are there,
Their sweet liquidity diluted some
By dewy orchard spaces they have come:
Sounds of the town, too, and the great highway--
The Mover-wagons' rumble, and the neigh
Of overtraveled horses, and the bleat
Of sheep and low of cattle through the street--
A Nation's thoroughfare of hopes and fears,
First blazed by the heroic pioneers
Who gave up old-home idols and set face
Toward the unbroken West, to found a race
And tame a wilderness now mightier than
All peoples and all tracts American.
Blent with all outer sounds, the sounds within:--
In mild remoteness falls the household din
Of porch and kitchen: the dull jar and thump
Of churning; and the 'glung-glung' of the pump,
With sudden pad and skurry of bare feet
Of little outlaws, in from field or street:
The clang of kettle,--rasp of damper-ring
And bang of cookstove-door--and everything
That jingles in a busy kitchen lifts
Its individual wrangling voice and drifts
In sweetest tinny, coppery, pewtery tone
Of music hungry ear has ever known
In wildest famished yearning and conceit
Of youth, to just cut loose and eat and eat!--
The zest of hunger still incited on
To childish desperation by long-drawn
Breaths of hot, steaming, wholesome things that stew
And blubber, and up-tilt the pot-lids, too,
Filling the sense with zestful rumors of
The dear old-fashioned dinners children love:
Redolent savorings of home-cured meats,
Potatoes, beans, and cabbage; turnips, beets
And parsnips--rarest composite entire
That ever pushed a mortal child's desire
To madness by new-grated fresh, keen, sharp
Horseradish--tang that sets the lips awarp
And watery, anticipating all
The cloyed sweets of the glorious festival.--
Still add the cinnamony, spicy scents
Of clove, nutmeg, and myriad condiments
In like-alluring whiffs that prophesy
Of sweltering pudding, cake, and custard pie--
The swooning-sweet aroma haunting all
The house--upstairs and down--porch, parlor, hall
And sitting-room--invading even where
The Hired Man sniffs it in the orchard-air,
And pauses in his pruning of the trees
To note the sun minutely and to--sneeze.

Then Cousin Rufus comes--the children hear
His hale voice in the old hall, ringing clear
As any bell. Always he came with song
Upon his lips and all the happy throng
Of echoes following him, even as the crowd
Of his admiring little kinsmen--proud
To have a cousin _grown_--and yet as young
Of soul and cheery as the songs he sung.

He was a student of the law--intent
Soundly to win success, with all it meant;
And so he studied--even as he played,--
With all his heart: And so it was he made
His gallant fight for fortune--through all stress
Of battle bearing him with cheeriness
And wholesome valor.

And the children had
Another relative who kept them glad
And joyous by his very merry ways--
As blithe and sunny as the summer days,--
Their father's youngest brother--Uncle Mart.
The old 'Arabian Nights' he knew by heart--
'Baron Munchausen,' too; and likewise 'The
Swiss Family Robinson.'--And when these three
Gave out, as he rehearsed them, he could go
Straight on in the same line--a steady flow
Of arabesque invention that his good
Old mother never clearly understood.
He _was_ to be a _printer_--wanted, though,
To be an _actor_.--But the world was 'show'
Enough for _him_,--theatric, airy, gay,--
Each day to him was jolly as a play.
And some poetic symptoms, too, in sooth,
Were certain.--And, from his apprentice youth,
He joyed in verse-quotations--which he took
Out of the old 'Type Foundry Specimen Book.'
He craved and courted most the favor of
The children.--They were foremost in his love;
And pleasing _them_, he pleased his own boy-heart
And kept it young and fresh in every part.
So was it he devised for them and wrought
To life his quaintest, most romantic thought:--
Like some lone castaway in alien seas,
He built a house up in the apple-trees,
Out in the corner of the garden, where
No man-devouring native, prowling there,
Might pounce upon them in the dead o' night--
For lo, their little ladder, slim and light,
They drew up after them. And it was known
That Uncle Mart slipped up sometimes alone
And drew the ladder in, to lie and moon
Over some novel all the afternoon.
And one time Johnty, from the crowd below,--
Outraged to find themselves deserted so--
Threw bodily their old black cat up in
The airy fastness, with much yowl and din.
Resulting, while a wild periphery
Of cat went circling to another tree,
And, in impassioned outburst, Uncle Mart
Loomed up, and thus relieved his tragic heart:

''_Hence, long-tailed, ebon-eyed, nocturnal ranger!
What led thee hither 'mongst the types and cases?
Didst thou not know that running midnight races
O'er standing types was fraught with imminent danger?
Did hunger lead thee--didst thou think to find
Some rich old cheese to fill thy hungry maw?
Vain hope! for none but literary jaw
Can masticate our cookery for the mind!_''

So likewise when, with lordly air and grace,
He strode to dinner, with a tragic face
With ink-spots on it from the office, he
Would aptly quote more 'Specimen-poetry--'
Perchance like ''Labor's bread is sweet to eat,
(_Ahem!_) And toothsome is the toiler's meat.''

Ah, could you see them _all_, at lull of noon!--
A sort of _boisterous_ lull, with clink of spoon
And clatter of deflecting knife, and plate
Dropped saggingly, with its all-bounteous weight,
And dragged in place voraciously; and then
Pent exclamations, and the lull again.--
The garland of glad faces 'round the board--
Each member of the family restored
To his or her place, with an extra chair
Or two for the chance guests so often there.--
The father's farmer-client, brought home from
The courtroom, though he 'didn't _want_ to come
Tel he jist saw he _hat_ to!' he'd explain,
Invariably, time and time again,
To the pleased wife and hostess, as she pressed
Another cup of coffee on the guest.--
Or there was Johnty's special chum, perchance,
Or Bud's, or both--each childish countenance
Lit with a higher glow of youthful glee,
To be together thus unbrokenly,--
Jim Offutt, or Eck Skinner, or George Carr--
The very nearest chums of Bud's these are,--
So, very probably, _one_ of the three,
At least, is there with Bud, or _ought_ to be.
Like interchange the town-boys each had known--
His playmate's dinner better than his own--
_Yet_ blest that he was ever made to stay
At _Almon Keefer's, any_ blessed day,
For _any_ meal!... Visions of biscuits, hot
And flaky-perfect, with the golden blot
Of molten butter for the center, clear,
Through pools of clover-honey--_dear-o-dear!_--
With creamy milk for its divine 'farewell':
And then, if any one delectable
Might yet exceed in sweetness, O restore
The cherry-cobbler of the days of yore
Made only by Al Keefer's mother!--Why,
The very thought of it ignites the eye
Of memory with rapture--cloys the lip
Of longing, till it seems to ooze and drip
With veriest juice and stain and overwaste
Of that most sweet delirium of taste
That ever visited the childish tongue,
Or proved, as now, the sweetest thing unsung.

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The Old Man Beside A Huge Tree

i have seen the picture of an old man
beside a huge oak tree

the picture is old
black and white and the kind of one that is strong
for it will last another lifetime

i have not seen the old man
neither the huge oak tree for real

i have the picture of the old man and the old oak tree
and the younger man sleeping
his smooth skin caressed by the fluffing grass

there is a story there and it is all about
gods and dogs
a film about a director who lost his fame
and fortune
about a young gardener who captures a heart
and made it bleed

at the end the old man met a happy death
the old oak tree was gone
but i have not really seen what is real
i have seen only the picture of what i thought could have been real
black and white

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The Old Mile-Tree

OLD coach-road West by Nor’-ward—
Old mile-tree by the track:
A dead branch pointing forward,
And a dead branch pointing back.
And still in clear-cut romans
On his hard heart he tells
The miles that were to fortune,
The miles from Bowenfels.
Old chief of Western timber!
A famous gum you’ve been.
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all your boughs were green.

There came three boyish lovers
When golden days begun;
There rode three boyish rovers
Towards the setting sun.
And Fortune smiled her fairest
And Fate to these was kind—
The truest, best and rarest,
The girls they’d left behind.
By the camp-fire’s dying ember
They dreamed of love and gold;
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all our hearts were bold.

And when the wrecks of those days
Were sadly drifting back,
There came a lonely swagman
Along the dusty track;
And save for limbs that trembled—
For weak and ill was he—
Old mile-tree, he resembled
The youngest of the three.
Beneath you, dark and lonely,
A wronged and broken man
He crouched, and sobbed as only
The strong heart broken can.
The darkness wrapped the timber,
The stars seemed dark o’erhead—
Old mile-tree, I remember
When all green leaves seemed dead.

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The boy and the apple tree

Once there was a boy who used to play under an apple tree
He played so happily that it was a joy to see
As he grew old, he got bore of playing alone
Toys and gadgets he desired to be his own

So, under the apple tree the boy muttered
Tree can you give me toys I now desire? ’
‘Toys I don’t have, my boy, ’ the tree replied
‘But my fruits you can sell to get your toys.’

So the boy took the fruits and went away
The tree waited for his return day after day
Many years had passed and the boy got older
He married a girl to be his wife and lover

The adult boy now needing a new house for his family
Went to the tree and asked for its advice earnestly
The tree glad to see him once again said
‘My branches will be sufficient to make your nest.’

To these words the adult boy listened
And took all the branches away with him
With these he constructed a house for his family
Where he lived for several years happily

One day, the boy now a fully mature adult thought
It will be wise to travel around and sail the sea across’
So, he went to the now old apple tree and asked
Tree, can you tell me, a boat, where I can get? ’

The tree which was happy to see him again sighed and said
‘Though I am old, my stem you may take if you want’
On hearing this, the guy cut the tree down
And made a large boat, which was fine and strong

Many years had passed and the guy now became an old man
Tired from his adventures across the sea and land
He went and saw the apple tree once again
Which was now but a stump nobody would want

The old stump on seeing the old man cried
‘My old boy what can I do for you this time’
The old man on hearing this softly replied
‘I just want to lean against you till the end of my life.’

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The Old Cherry Tree

My mind is full of one old cherry tree,
Whose branches I climbed as a child in quest
Of my then slumbering identity.
Remembrance finds my pastoral friend drest
In rich green shimmering with silver flame,
The dusky cherries bursting with the life
And love that saturate the cosmic frame.
Leaf, branch and fruit are wounded not with strife,
But shine with nature's unencumbered joy.
Instructor of the soul - o tree of love -
You were in mystic union with the boy;
The man to bursts of lyric thought you move.
Alas, the canker reappears anon,
And minds me that the storm of hate howls on.

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