Lament of the Maple Tree (Poem by James McIntyre)

Suggested Poem

Lament of the Maple Tree

By James McIntyre

A VISION

"We had a dream which was not all a dream." — Byron.


I laid me down one day in June,
It was late long afternoon,
A very sultry summer's eve,
Such times the senses oft deceive,
The place was 'neath a maple tree,
Soon from all cares and troubles free,
By a gentle, kindly slumber,
No more our sorrows we could number,
But we heard a plaintive wail
Such as we find in fairy tale,
It was the genius of the tree
Who in sad guise appeared to me,
And then she sadly did give vent
Unto this awful grave lament:
Though I am gay in month of June,
All decked in green, yet very soon,
Alas my beauty will be faded
And my charms be all degraded,
For is my time of glory brief,
So often flattered is my leaf.
In Canada so broad and free
All poets sing of the maple tree,
High I stand in their opinion,
Emblem of the New Dominion,
The reason I do them upbraid
Some never slept beneath my shade,
And yet they take the liberty
To chant about the maple tree,
They dare to poetise my leaf,
This is the source of all my grief,
I think their praises all so rude
And as but base ingratitude,
So often hackneyed is my name
That every fall I burn with shame,
Like maiden's cheek which blushes red
When vain rash youth asks her to wed,
Then do these foolish ones descry
In me fresh beauty and they sigh,
And then renew their songs of praise.
But unto me how sad their lays,
For then I know my days are brief,
'Tis hectic flush upon my leaf;
True poets then should mournful sing
When the destroyer's on the wing,
For then I know my leaves of gold
Will all soon mingle with the mould,
No one does ever think to praise
The fell destroyer when he slays,
None rejoice in the flushed cheek
When the poor girl is low and weak,
Perhaps they'll say and it is true
In spring my glories I'll renew,
But 'tis poor comfort after all
To lose my offspring every fall,
Small consolation to mother
To tell her that soon another
Will replace her fond darling boy
Who has been source of all her joy,
But you know all about my wood
You know that it is strong and good,
And I have full many a curl
And pleasing eye and charming nurl,
Some love me as fond nature grained
And some prefer my beauty stained,
But my dear friend I hope that you
My varied shades love pure and true,
For of the woods you know the staple
Stoutest and best is good maple,
The youth my sugar eat with glee,
And old maids love me in their tea,
In me do various uses meet
In summer shade, in winter heat,
For I do make a glorious blaze
All worthy of the poet's lays,
But to their praises I'll be deaf
If more they harp about my leaf.
They call me gay when I am sober
To me 'tis gloomy month October,
But saints on earth when they die
Hope for true bliss beyond the sky,
So winter does bring no alarms
Though it strip bare my trunk and arms,
For now I know that time will bring
More glorious foliage in the spring,
Then all nature will rejoice
Triumphing with glorious voice,
And birds will in my branches sing
Hosannas to the lovely spring.


Notefoot:
The nurls and birds' eyes and curls were highly prized in furniture thirty years ago, when we used the smooth plain.

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