The Tree of My Life

      When I was yet but a child, the gardener gave me a tree,
      A little slim elm, to be set wherever seemed good to me
      What a wonderful thing it seemed! with its lace-edged leaves
      uncurled, And its span-long stem, that should grow to the
      grandest tree in the world!

      So I searched all the garden round, and out over field and hill,
      But not a spot could I find that suited my wayward will.
      I would have it bowered in the grove, in a close and quiet vale;
      I would rear it aloft on the height, to wrestle with the gale.

      Then I said, "I will cover its roots with a little earth by the door,
      And there it shall live and wait, while I search for a place once more."
      But still I could never find it, the place for my wondrous tree,
      And it waited and grew by the door, while years passed over me;
      Till suddenly, one fine day, I saw it was grown too tall,
      And its roots gone down too deep, to be ever moved at all.

      So here it is growing still, by the lowly cottage door;
      Never so grand and tall as I dreamed it would be of yore,
      But it shelters a tired old man in its sunshine-dappled shade,
      The children's pattering feet round its knotty knees have played,
      Dear singing birds in a storm sometimes take refuge there,
      And the stars through its silent boughs shine gloriously fair.

[ Edward Rowland Sill -- from Aiken Drum ]


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