poem index

The Planting of the Apple-Tree

William Cullen Bryant
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, 
  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?    
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,    
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   
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,    
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,    
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,    
  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,    
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.    
   
  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;    
  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    
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    
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    
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    
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;    
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
  On planting the apple-tree."

This poem is in the public domain.

William Cullen Bryant

by this poet

poem
A power is on the earth and in the air,
  From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,
  And shelters him in nooks of deepest shade,
From the hot steam and from the fiery glare.
Look forth upon the earth—her thousand plants
  Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize
  Faints in the field beneath the torrid
poem
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our mother Nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?

There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gaily chirps by his den
poem
Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that,