Hattie Howard Poems >>
The Apple Tree

Has ever a tree from the earth upsprung
  Around whose body have children clung,
  Whose bounteous branches the birds among
  Have pecked the fruit, and chirped and sung--
  Was ever a tree, or shall there be,
  So hardy, so sturdy, so good to see,
  So welcome a boon to the family,
  Like the pride of the farmer, the apple tree?

  How he loves to be digging about its root,
  Or grafting the bud in the tender shoot,
  The daintiest palate that he may suit
  With the fairest and finest selected fruit.
  How he boasts of his Sweetings, so big for size;
  His delicate Greenings--made for pies;
  His Golden Pippins that take the prize,
  The Astrachans tempting, that tell no lies.

  How he learns of the squirrel a thing or two
  That the wise little rodents always knew,
  And never forget or fail to do,
  Of laying up store for the winter through;
  So he hollows a space in the mellow ground
  Where leaves for lining and straw abound,
  And well remembers his apple mound
  When a day of scarcity comes around.

  By many a token may we suppose
  That the knowledge apple no longer grows,
  That broke up Adam and Eve's repose
  And set the fashion of fig-leaf clothes;
  The story's simple and terse and crude,
  But still with a morsel of truth imbued:
  For of trees and trees by the multitude
  Are some that are evil, and some that are good.

  The more I muse on those stories old
  The more philosophy they unfold
  Of husbands docile and women bold,
  And Satan's purposes manifold;
  Ah, many a couple halve their fare
  With that mistaken and misfit air
  That the world and all are ready to swear
  To a mighty unapple-y mated pair.

  The apple's an old-fashioned tree I know,
  All gnarled and bored by the curculio,
  And loves to stand in a zigzag row;
  And doesn't make half so much of a show
  As the lovely almond that blooms like a ball,
  And spreads out wide like a pink parasol
  Set on its stem by the garden-wall;
  But I love the apple tree, after all.

  "A little more cider"--sings the bard;
  And who this juiciness would discard,
  Though holding the apple in high regard,
  Must be like the cider itself--very hard;
  For the spirit within it, as all must know,
  Is utterly harmless--unless we go
  Like the fool in his folly, and overflow
  By drinking a couple of barrels or so.

  What of that apple beyond the seas,
  Fruit of the famed Hesperides?
  But dust and ashes compared to these
  That grow on Columbia's apple trees;
  And I sigh for the apples of years agone:
  For Rambos streaked like the morning dawn,
  For Russets brown with their jackets on,
  And aromatic as cinnamon.

  Oh, the peach and cherry may have their place,
  And the pear is fine in its stately grace;
  The plum belongs to a puckery race
  And maketh awry the mouth and face;
  But I long to roam in the orchard free,
  The dear old orchard that used to be,
  And gather the beauties that dropped for me
  From the bending boughs of the apple tree.