Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe




Child of the wilderness—gladly I see
Thy blossoms unfolding on hill-side and lea;
By streamlet and river thy white veil is spread, [Page 87]
Where the Witch Elm looks lovingly down on thy head;
In the depth of the forest the Moose turns aside
To gaze on thy branches with pleasure and pride;
And the Salmon leaps higher, if lit by the beam
Of noontide, you gracefully droop o’er the stream.
Oh! dear to all nature, but dearer to me
Is the pride of the Spring time—the Wild Cherry Tree.

Storm-tested, the Oak on the mountain top grows,
And the date of its seedling no living man knows;
The Maple, in Autumn, is lovely to view,
And the tremulous Aspen, that shakes off the dew;
Like a Temple the Pine Grove invites us to prayer,
And we worship ’midst beauty and solitude there;
By the Beech in the pastures, ’tis pleasant to lean,
And the Fir, through the snow wreath, looks cheery and green.
Though highly I prize them, yet dearer to me
Is the pride of the Spring time, the Wild Cherry Tree.

The Laurel’s pink blossoms look gay on the moor,
The Larch’s red berries droop round the church door;
The Alder Clumps, dress’d in their tassels, are fine,
And the Rockets, the Windfalls with beauty enshrine;
The wings of each zephyr the Bay-leaf perfumes,
And, rich in its odors, the modest Fern blooms.
Oh! countless the blossoms the woodlands display,
And varied the scents on the night air that stray—
From childhood I loved them—but dearer to me
Is the delicate flower of the Wild Cherry Tree. [Page 88]

It blooms on the barren—it smiles through the grove,
It hangs o’er the path where the young lovers rove;
Like a sweet flag of truce, at the Pensioner’s door;
It gladdens his eye when life’s warfare is o’er;
Round the Emigrant’s clearing, far back in the wild
It catches the eye of each frolicksome child,
And the Indian draws, in the gloomiest hour
New health from its bark, and gay thought from its flower.
And black eyes will sparkle, whenever they see,
Festoon’d round the Wigwam, the Wild Cherry Tree.

Fair child of the woodland, wherever I roam,
I ne’er can forget that you bloom’d round my home;
That the brow of that sister I’ve wept o’er for hours,
Was crown’d with thy berries, and wreath’d with thy flowers.
That the roads where we rambled, the knolls where we stood
While our voices in gladness rang clear through the wood,
That the spots which, love hallow’d, still verdant appear,
Unchanged in a feature—undimmed by a tear,
Were graced by thy presence, and come back to me
When Spring decks in blossoms the Wild Cherry Tree. [Page 89]