Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Pastoral / Robert Hillyer

A Pastoral

The wise old apple tree in spring,
Though split and hollow, makes a crown
Of such fantastic blossoming
We cannot let them cut it down.
It bears no fruit, but honey bees
Prefer it to the other trees.

The orchard man chalks his mark
And says, “This empty shell must go.”
We nod and rub it off the bark
As soon as he goes down the row.
Each spring he looks bewildered. “Queer,
I thought I marked this thing last year.”

Ten orchard men have come and gone
Since first I saw my grandfather
Slyly erase it. I'm the one
To do it now. As I defer
The showy veteran's removal
My grandson nods his full approval.

Like mine, my fellow ancient's roots
Are deep in the last century
From which our memories send shoots
For all our grandchildren to see
How spring, inviting bloom and rhyme,
Defeats the orchard men of time.

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961)

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada]

Robert Hillyer biography

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