Poems of Childhood/The Bell-flower Tree

 

THE BELL-FLOWER TREE

WHEN Brother Bill and I were boys,
How often in the summer we
Would seek the shade your branches made,
O fair and gracious bell-flower tree!
Amid the clover bloom we sat
And looked upon the Holyoke range,
While Fido lay a space away,
Thinking our silence very strange.

The woodchuck in the pasture-lot,
Beside his furtive hole elate,
Heard, off beyond the pickerel pond,
The redwing-blackbird chide her mate.
The bumblebee went bustling round,
Pursuing labors never done—
With drone and sting, the greedy thing
Begrudged the sweets we lay upon!

Our eyes looked always at the hills—
The Holyoke hills that seemed to stand
Between us boys and pictured joys
Of conquest in a further land!
Ah, how we coveted the time
When we should leave this prosy place
And work our wills beyond those hills,
And meet creation face to face!

You must have heard our childish talk—
Perhaps our prattle gave you pain;
For then, old friend, you seemed to bend
Your kindly arms about us twain.
It might have been the wind that sighed,
And yet I thought I heard you say:
"Seek not the ills beyond those hills—
Oh, stay with me, my children, stay!"

See, I've come back; the boy you knew
Is wiser, older, sadder grown;
I come once more, just as of yore—
I come, but see! I come alone!
The memory of a brother's love,
Of blighted hopes, I bring with me,
And here I lay my heart to-day—
A weary heart, O bell-flower tree!

So let me nestle in your shade
As though I were a boy again,
And pray extend your arms, old friend,
And love me as you used to then.
Sing softly as you used to sing,
And maybe I shall seem to be
A little boy and feel the joy
Of thy repose, O bell-flower tree!