Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Original Tree-Hugger

We had two trees that were under threat on our campus this week due to some renovations. My daughter was heartbroken and joined a group who made signs to try to save the trees. The whole incident made me think of this poem - did I read it in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? I just remembered the first four lines from some book I read many years ago. Of course, a quick internet search found the whole text.

Woodman, Spare That Tree

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand
That placed it near his cot;
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not!

That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea,
And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth-bound ties;
O, spare that aged oak,
Now towering to the skies!

When but an idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here too my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;
My father pressed my hand --
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand!

My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I've a hand to save,
Thy axe shall hurt it not.

George Pope Morris (1802-1864)

Oh, the trees? For now they are reprieved. The Board is doing further study on the improvements.


ekugiraffe said...

Did Shel Silverstein get his idea for "The Giving Tree" from this poem? If he did, he put a different twist on it, but then, he was Shel Silverstein.

Ruth said...

Yeah, in that book it's just, chop down the tree, it won't care - it's a GIVING tree!