Saturday, October 30, 2010

"Apple Trees" by William Lambie

William Lambie was a Ypsilanti farmer of Scottish extraction. His introduction to his 1882 book of prose and poetry "Life on the Farm" reads thus:

"On stormy days and while resting at noon I have been in the habit of writing the thoughts that passed through my mind while working on the farm. No one complains that farmers write too many books, or make too many speeches, or are in any way burdensome on humanity. They are known by their fruits rather than by their books, and if they fall behind In harmony and eloquence they often more than make it up in common sense and useful industry. The pulpit, the bar, and the press are well represented, but we hear very little from a farmer's standpoint--those who produce the most seem to have the least to say..."

Here is this Saturday's selection from his book "Life on the Farm": a poem that takes as its subject Lambie's apple trees.


I planted apple trees when life was young,
At the gladsome light of the morning sun,
In the mellow ground, while the robins sung.

And aye when the winter's storm was o'er,
And sweet vernal flowers came back once more,
They showered fragrant bloom o'er my cottage door.

When the blossoms lost their sweet perfume,
And the apples took the place of bloom,
I spent happy hours in their shade at noon.

And many a young heart danced with glee
In the halcyon hours on the flowery lea,
Getting ripe "sweet-boughs" off the apple tree.

When over the hills they came from school,
And autumn's days were growing cool,
Merry hearts filled barrels of Baldwins full.

When the winter nights grew dark and long
The apples cheered many a heart and home,
With feasting and glee and choral song.

And now, when my head is growing gray,
The bloom of the trees is passing away,
After yielding fruit for many a day.

I would like to spare the apple tree
That so long has borne so full and free,
But they're fading on the grassy lea.

They have brought me health as well as gold,
And now fuel to warm the young and old
When the winter winds blow bleak and cold.

--William Lambie


cmadler said...

For some reason that reminds me of Dunbar's "Fulfillment".

More obviously, it seems like a cheerier version of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poems.

Dusty D said...

cmadler, the Dunbar poem you linked in turn reminded me of the little William Blake poem "Sick Rose":

O Rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.