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Arbor Day
Arbor Day


Table of Contents

Woodman, Spare
that Tree !

Woodman Spare that Tree for Me !

Arbor Day


The Tree

The Foolish

The Apple Tree

The Planting of
the Apple Tree


Woodman, Spare that Tree !
G.P. Morris

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 ax 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, forebear thy stroke;
Cutr 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 they branches bend.
Old tree, the storm still brave !
And, woodman, leave the spot:
While I've a hand to save,
Thy ax shall harm it not.


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For even more fun with the poem,
(Woodman, Spare that Tree ! by G.P. Morris)
get an old 1930s-1940s recording of Phil Harris,
the big band leader and voice of Baloo in
Jungle Book, singing a comical version
of the poem which Phil Harris re-titled:
Woodman Spare that Tree for Me !
The lyrics are as follows ...

Woodman Spare that Tree for Me !
Phil Harris comical rendition

There is a tree grows near our house,
It's been there quite some time.
Now the tree is a slippery elm,
And awful hard to climb.

But when my wife gets after me,
In that tree I always roost.
Why I can go up there just like a helpless squirrel,
I don't never need no boost.

But the other day a woodman came round,
To chop my refuge down.
Kept mumblin' somethin' bout wanting to split it into kindlin' wood
And then spread it around the town.

I said to him, I said, "Look here my friend,
Hold on !, Desist !, Whoa !, Stop !
Put down the forest razor !
Chop not a single chop !"

"Woodman, woodman spare that tree
Touch not a single bough
Three years it he has protected me,
And I'll protect it now.

Go chop an oak, get a birch or pine,
But save Ole Slippery there, that's mine!
That's the only tree my wife can't climb!
Mr. Woodman, spare it for me!

I said to him, I said, "Woody, can you see that hole
Way up near that old tree top?
I got five dollars in soft money up there,
And it's yours if you refuse to chop.

Now no one can climb that tree but me,
Because really friend it's too slippery,
Fact of the matter is I can't get up there very well myself
Unless my wife is after me.

Now I'm gonna go home and get my wife,
And proceed to call her a very na-a-a-ughty word.
Then all you do is stand by,
While I do that imitation of a bird.

Now you ain't gonna know just where I go,
That is while my wife's around,
But the only thing I ask you, Mr. Woodman,
If you don't see me here on the ground

Woody, you gunna spare that tree
Touch not a single bough
Cuz I'm gunna drop old five down to thee,
The one I promised thou.

Hold ! But you must make that axe behave
Because Ole Slippery there just must be saved !
That's the borderline 'tween me and the grave !
Mr. Woodman, spare it, spare that tree for me !


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Arbor Day Greeting

We have come with joyful greeting,
Songs of gladness, voices gay,
Parents, friends, and happy children,
All to welcome Arbor Day.
Here we plant the trees whose branches,
Warmed by breath of summer days,
Nourished by the dews and showers,
Soon shall wave in leafy sprays.

Let us plant throughout our borders,
O'er our lands so far and wide,
Treasures from the leafy forest,
Vale, and hill, and mountain side ;

Rooted deep, oh let them flourish,
Sturdy giants may they be !
Emblems of the cause we cherish
Education broad and free.

Gentle winds will murmur softly,
Zephyrs float on noiseless wing;
'Mid their boughs shall thrush and robin,
Build their nests and sweetly sing.
'Neath their shady arms will childhood
Weary of the nootide heat,
In its cool inviting shadow,
Find a pleasant, safe retreat.


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Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

(For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden)

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


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The Tree
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea

Fair tree! for thy delightful shade
'Tis just that some return be made;
Sure some return is due from me
To thy cool shadows, and to thee.
When thou to birds dost shelter give,
Thou music dost from them receive;
If travellers beneath thee stay
Till storms have worn themselves away,
That time in praising thee they spend
And thy protecting pow'r commend.
The shepherd here, from scorching freed,
Tunes to thy dancing leaves his reed;
Whilst his lov'd nymph, in thanks, bestows
Her flow'ry chaplets on thy boughs.
Shall I then only silent be,
And no return be made by me?
No; let this wish upon thee wait,
And still to flourish be thy fate.
To future ages may'st thou stand
Untouch'd by the rash workman's hand,
Till that large stock of sap is spent,
Which gives thy summer's ornament;
Till the fierce winds, that vainly strive
To shock thy greatness whilst alive,
Shall on thy lifeless hour attend,
Prevent the axe, and grace thy end;
Their scatter'd strength together call
And to the clouds proclaim thy fall;
Who then their ev'ning dews may spare
When thou no longer art their care,
But shalt, like ancient heroes, burn,
And some bright hearth be made thy urn.


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The Foolish Fir-Tree

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)

     A tale that the poet Rückert told
     To German children, in days of old;
     Disguised in a random, rollicking rhyme
     Like a merry mummer of ancient time,
     And sent, in its English dress, to please
     The little folk of the Christmas trees.

A LITTLE fir grew in the midst of the wood
Contented and happy, as young trees should.
His body was straight and his boughs were clean;
And summer and winter the bountiful sheen
Of his needles bedecked him, from top to root,
In a beautiful, all-the-year, evergreen suit.

But a trouble came into his heart one day,
When he saw that the other trees were gay
In the wonderful raiment that summer weaves
Of manifold shapes and kinds of leaves:
He looked at his needles so stiff and small,
And thought that his dress was the poorest of all.
Then jealousy clouded the little tree's mind,
And he said to himself, "It was not very kind
"To give such an ugly old dress to a tree!
"If the fays of the forest would only ask me,
"I'd tell them how I should like to be dressed,
"In a garment of gold, to bedazzle the rest!"
So he fell asleep, but his dreams were bad.
When he woke in the morning, his heart was glad;
For every leaf that his boughs could hold
Was made of the brightest beaten gold.
I tell you, children, the tree was proud;
He was something above the common crowd;
And he tinkled his leaves, as if he would say
To a pedlar who happened to pass that way,
"Just look at me! don't you think I am fine?
"And wouldn't you like such a dress as mine?"
"Oh, yes!" said the man, "and I really guess
I must fill my pack with your beautiful dress."
So he picked the golden leaves with care,
And left the little tree shivering there.

"Oh, why did I wish for golden leaves?"
The fir-tree said, "I forgot that thieves
"Would be sure to rob me in passing by.
"If the fairies would give me another try,
"I'd wish for something that cost much less,
"And be satisfied with glass for my dress!"
Then he fell asleep; and, just as before,
The fairies granted his wish once more.
When the night was gone, and the sun rose clear,
The tree was a crystal chandelier;
And it seemed, as he stood in the morning light,
That his branches were covered with jewels bright.
"Aha!" said the tree. "This is something great!"
And he held himself up, very proud and straight;
But a rude young wind through the forest dashed,
In a reckless temper, and quickly smashed
The delicate leaves. With a clashing sound
They broke into pieces and fell on the ground,
Like a silvery, shimmering shower of hail,
And the tree stood naked and bare to the gale.

Then his heart was sad; and he cried, "Alas
"For my beautiful leaves of shining glass!
"Perhaps I have made another mistake
"In choosing a dress so easy to break.
"If the fairies only would hear me again
"I'd ask them for something both pretty and plain:
"It wouldn't cost much to grant my request,
"In leaves of green lettuce I'd like to be dressed!"
By this time the fairies were laughing, I know;
But they gave him his wish in a second; and so
With leaves of green lettuce, all tender and sweet,
The tree was arrayed, from his head to his feet.
"I knew it!" he cried, "I was sure I could find
"The sort of a suit that would be to my mind.
"There's none of the trees has a prettier dress,
"And none as attractive as I am, I guess."
But a goat, who was taking an afternoon walk,
By chance overheard the fir-tree's talk.
So he came up close for a nearer view;
"My salad!" he bleated, "I think so too!
"You're the most attractive kind of a tree,
"And I want your leaves for my five-o'clock tea."
So he ate them all without saying grace,
And walked away with a grin on his face;
While the little tree stood in the twilight dim,
With never a leaf on a single limb.

Then he sighed and groaned; but his voice was weak
He was so ashamed that he could not speak.
He knew at last that he had been a fool,
To think of breaking the forest rule,
And choosing a dress himself to please,
Because he envied the other trees.
But it couldn't be helped, it was now too late,
He must make up his mind to a leafless fate!
So he let himself sink in a slumber deep,
But he moaned and he tossed in his troubled sleep,
Till the morning touched him with joyful beam,
And he woke to find it was all a dream.
For there in his evergreen dress he stood,
A pointed fir in the midst of the wood!
His branches were sweet with the balsam smell,
His needles were green when the white snow fell.
And always contented and happy was he,
The very best kind of a Christmas tree.

1)  Henry Van Dyke was a Presbyterian minister
2)  The German poet Friedrich Rückert lived from 1788 to 1866

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The Apple Tree
Edgar Guest


When an apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat,
There isn't any structure in the land that's "got it beat."
There's nothing man has builded with the beauty or the charm
That can touch the simple grandeur of the monarch of the farm.
There's never any picture from a human being's brush
That has ever caught the redness of a single apple's blush.

When an apple tree's in blossom it is glorious to see,
But that's just a hint, at springtime, of the better things to be;
That is just a fairy promise from the Great Magician's wand
Of the wonders and the splendors that are waiting just beyond
The distant edge of summer; just a forecast of the treat
When the apple tree is ready for the world to come and eat.

Architects of splendid vision long have labored on the earth,
And have raised their dreams in marble and we've marveled at their worth;
Long the spires of costly churches have looked upward at the sky;
Rich in promise and in the beauty, they have cheered the passer-by.
But I'm sure there's nothing finer for the eye of man to meet
Than an apple tree that's ready for the world to come and eat.

There's the promise of the apples, red and gleaming in the sun,
Like the medals worn by mortals as rewards for labors done;
And the big arms stretched wide open, with a welcome warm and true
In a way that sets you thinking it's intended just for you.
There is nothing with a beauty so entrancing, so complete,
As an apple tree that's ready for the world to come and eat.



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The Planting of the Apple Tree
by William Cullen Bryant

Come, let us plant the apple tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade;
Wide let its hollow bed be made;
There gently lay the roots, and there
Sift the dark mold with kindly care,
And press it o'er them tenderly,
As round the sleeping infant's feet
We softly fold the cradle sheet;
So plant we the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?
Buds, which the breath of summer days
Shall lengthen into leafy sprays;
Boughs where the thrush, with crimson breast,
Shall haunt, and sing, and hide her nest;
We plant, upon the sunny lea,
A shadow for the noontide hour,
A shelter from the summer shower,
When we plant the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?
Sweets for a hundred flowery springs,
To load the May wind's restless wings,
When, from the orchard row, he pours
Its fragrance through our open doors;
ùA world of blossoms for the bee,
Flowers for the sick girl's silent room,
For the glad infant sprigs of bloom,
We plant with the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?
Fruits that shall swell in sunny June,
And redden in the August noon,
And drop, when gentle airs come by,
That fan the blue September sky,
While children come, with cries of glee,
And seek them where the fragrant grass
Betrays their bed to those who pass,
At the foot of the apple tree.

And when, above this apple tree,
The winter stars are quivering bright,
The winds go howling through the night,
Girls, whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth,
Shall peel its fruit by cottage hearth,
And guests in prouder homes shall see,
Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine,
And golden orange of the line,
The fruit of the apple tree.

The fruitage of this apple tree,
Winds and our flag of stripe and star
Shall bear to coasts that lie afar,
Where men shall wonder at the view,
And ask in what fair groves they grew;
And sojourners beyond the sea
Shall think of childhood's careless day,
And long, long hours of summer play,
In the shade of the apple tree.

Each year shall give this apple tree
A broader flush of roseate bloom,
A deeper maze of verdurous gloom,
And loosen, when the frost-clouds lower,
The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower.
The years shall come and pass, but we
Shall hear no longer, where we lie,
The summer's songs, the autumn's sigh,
In the boughs of the apple tree.

And time shall waste this apple tree.
Oh, when its aged branches throw
Thin shadows on the ground below,
Shall fraud and force and iron will
Oppress the weak and helpless still?
What shall the tasks of mercy be,
Amid the toils, the strifes, the tears
Of those who live when length of years
Is wasting this apple tree?

"Who planted this old apple tree?"
The children of that distant day
Thus to some aged man shall say;
And, gazing on its mossy stem,
The gray-haired man shall answer them:
"A poet of the land was he,
Born in the rude but good old times;
'Tis said he made some quaint old rhymes
On planting the apple tree."

DEFINITIONS:  Greensward, turf or sod green with grass. Mold,
crumbling earth. Lea, a grassy field. Cintra, a town in Portugal
noted for its fine climate and its delicious grapes. Line, the
equator. Roseate, rose-colored. Verdurous, greenish.


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Request:  Do you have any recommendations for Arbor Day Poems?
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