Robert Haven Schauffler.

Arbor day, its history, observance, spirit and significance; with practical selections on tree-planting and conservation, and a nature anthology online

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idea. Words are very much like tunes played on
a jew's-harp; the notes intended to be given by the



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i88 ARBOR DAY

performer are accompanied by the louder ring of the
keynote of the instrument, making it difficult
to detect the notes of the tune, except in the hands
of an extraordinary performer.

Nature has provided against the disagreeable
effects that would result from the dismemberment
of trees, by giving to those which are the most com-
mon a great irregularity of outline, admitting of
disproportion without deformity. S)nnmetry in the
forms of natural objects becomes wearisome by
making too great a demand upon the attention
required for observing the order and relations of
the different parts. But if the objects in the land-
scape be irregular, both in their forms and their
distribution, we make no effort to attend to the
relations of parts to the whole, because no such
harmony is indicated. Such a scene has the beauty
of repose. The opposite effect is observed in works
of architecture, in which irregularity puzzles the
mind to discover the mutual relations of parts, and
becomes disagreeable by disturbing our calculation
and disappointing our curiosity. The charm of
art is variety combined with imiformity; the charm
of nature is variety without imiformity. Nature
speaks to us in prose, art in verse.

Though we always admire a perfectly s)rmmetrical
oak or elm, because such perfection is rare, it will
be admitted that the irregular forms of trees are
more productive of agreeable impressions on the



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SONG 189

mind. The oak, one of the most interesting of all
trees, is, in an important sense, absolutely ugly,
especially when old age has increased its picturesque
attractions. Indeed, if we could always reason
correctly on the subjects of our consciousness, we
should find that a very small part of that complex
quality which we call beauty yields any organic
pleasure to the sight. The charm of most of the
objects in this category exists only in our imagina-
tions. In trees and the general objects of the land-
scape we look neither for symmetry nor proportion;
the absence of these qualities is, therefore, never
disagreeable. It is the nonfulfilment of some
expectation, or the apparently imperfect supply
of some important want, that offends the sight,
as when a conspicuous gap occurs in some finely
proportioned work of art.



SONG

BY THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK

For the tender beech and the sapling oak,

That grow by the shadowy rill.
You may cut down both at a single stroke.

You may cut down which you will.

But this you must know, that as long as they grow,

Whatever change may be.
You can never teach either oak or beech

To be aught but a greenwood tree.



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I90 ARBOR DAY

A FRANK AVOWAL

BY N. P. WILLIS

From Outdoors at IdlewUd

I SAID, just now, that I had not yet planted a single
tree at Idlewild. This is half a betrayal of a weak-
ness that I feel growing upon me; and, having been
reminded to-day of what I have once put in print
from quite an opposite feeling, I may as well make
a clean breast, and so, perhaps, get the better of it.
In our current of life we have eddies of these quiet
side- weaknesses — a string of them. At fourteen
we begin to be secretly nervous lest our beard should
be belated. Whiskers pretty well outlined, there
awakens an imconfessed wonder and indignation
that the world does not seem ready for our particular
genius. Soon after, we are mortified that even our
guardian angel, reading our hearts, should know
how hard it is to smile with contempt because papas
do not think us "a good match.'* The struggle of
life comes; and, with the current swifter and deeper,
there is an interval, perhaps, when the eddies of
secret weakness find no slack- water for play. But,
that past, we begin to be sensitive about our age
and our first gray hairs; and when that is scarce
over, there comes another feeling — the weakness
that I speak of — the secret reason (though scarce
before recognized and brought fairly to the light)



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I SAW A LIVE-OAK GROWING 191

why I have been two years molding Idlewild into
a home, and have not yet set out a tree.



I SAW IN LOUISIANA A LIVE-OAK
GROWING*

BY WALT WHITMAN

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,

All alone stood it and the moss himg down from the

branches.
Without any companion it grew there uttering

joyous leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think

of myself.
But I wonder'd how it could utter joyous leaves

standing alone there without its friend near,

for I knew I could not,
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of

leaves upon it, and twined around it a little

moss,
And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight

in my room.
It is not needed to remind me of my own dear

friends
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of

them),

* From "Poetical Works/' published by David McKay, PhiUw
delphia,Pa.



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iga ARBOR DAY

Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me

think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there

in Louisiana, solitary in a wide, flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend,

a lover near,
I know very well I could not.



THE MAPLE*

BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

The Maple puts her corals on in May,
While loitering frosts about the lowlands cling,
To be in time with what the robins sing.
Plastering new log-huts 'mid her branches gray;
But when the Autimm southward turns away.
Then in her veins bums most the blood of

Spring,
And every leaf, intensely blossoming.
Makes the year's sunset pale the set of day.
O Youth unprescient, were it only so
With trees you plant, and in whose shade reclined,
Thinking their drifting blooms Fate's coldest

snow,
You carve dear names upon the faithful rind,
Nor in that vernal stem the cross foreknow
That Age shall bear, silent, yet unresigned!

* By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Ik Co.



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THE LESSON OF A TREE 193

UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And tune his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat —
Come hither, come hither, come hither!
Here shall we see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

Who doth ambition shim,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats.
And pleased with what he gets —
Come hither, come hither, come hither!
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.



THE LESSON OF A TREE*

BY WALT WHITMAN

I SHOULD not take either the biggest or the most
picturesque tree to illustrate it. Here is one of my
favorites now before me, a fine yellow poplar, quite

♦From "Prose Works," published by David McKay, Phila-
delphia, Pa.



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194 ARBOR DAY

straight, perhaps ninety feet high, and four thick
at the butt. How strong, vital, enduring! How
dumbly eloquent! What suggestions of imper-
turbability and being, as against the human trait of
mere seeming. Then the qualities, almost emo-
tional, palpably artistic, heroic, of a tree; so inno-
cent and harmless, yet so savage. It is, yet says
nothing. How it rebukes, by its tough and equable
serenity, all weathers, this gusty-tempered little
whiffet, man, that runs indoors at a mite of rain
or snow. Science (or rather half-way science)
scoffs at reminiscence of dryad and hamadryad, and
of trees speaking. But, if they don't, they do as
well as most speaking, writing, poetry, sermons —
or rather they do a great deal better. I shoxild say
indeed that those old dryad reminiscences are quite
as true as any, and profoimder than most remin-
iscences we get. ("Cut this out," as the quack
mediciners say, and keep by you.) Go and sit in
a grove or woods, with one or more of those voice-
less companions, and read the foregoing and think.



THE BEAUTY OF TREES

BY WILSON FLAGG

It is difficult to realize how great a part of aU
that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections
of our own life is associated with trees. They are



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THE SNOWING OF THE PINES 195

allied with the songs of mom, with the quiet of
noonday, with social gatherings under the evening
sky, and with all the beauty and attractiveness of
every season. Nowhere does nature look more
lovely, or the sounds from birds and insects, and
from inanimate things, affect us more deeply, than
in their benevolent shade. Never does the blue
sky appear more serene than when its dappled azure
gh'mmers through their green trembling leaves.
Their shades, which, in the early ages, were the
temples of religion and philosophy, are still the
favorite resort of the studious, the scene of health-
ful sport for the active and adventurous, and the
very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contem-
plative and sorrowful.



THE SNOWING OF THE PINES*

BY THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON

Softer than silence, stiller than still air.

Float down from high pine-boughs the slender leaves.

The forest floor its annual boon receives

That comes like snowfall, tireless, tranquil, fair.

Gently they glide, gently they clothe the bare

Old rocks with grace. Their fall a mantle weaves

Of paler yellow than autumnal sheaves

Or those strange blossoms the witch-hazels wear.

* By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin Ik Co.



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196 ARBOR DAY

Athwart long aisles the sunbeams pierce their way;

High upi the crows are gathering for the night;

The delicate needles fill the air; the jay

Takes through their golden mist his radiant flight;

They fall and f all, till at November's dose

The snowflakes drop as lightly — snows on snows.



MEN AND TREES*

BY EDITH H. THOICAS

SoifE time since, on an enchanted summer after-
noon, I heard the woods utter the following com-
plaint, in tones half whisper, half musical recitative
(I do not think I could have been asleep) :

We that sway the forest realm.

Oak and chestnut, beech and dm.

Do grow weary standing here

Year by year — long year by year!

V^ill it never more befall uf

V^e shall hear a master call us,

When our troops shall break their trance

And be joined in nimUe dance?

He should lead us up and down,

Drunk with joy from root to crown.

Through the valley, over hill,

Servants unto music's will;

Leaf and nut the earth bestrewing,'

Birds their truant nests pursuing-—

Merry madness all around

In the trembling air and ground!



* By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin 9l Ca



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MEN AND TREES 197

So it chanced (our sages say)

In the bard Amphion's day;

But since he was lost to earth,

None could wake our souls to mirth.

Music, music, music bring,

Blow on flute, and smite the string!

We for revel fare are ripe —

We would dance, but who will pipe?

Now the best of bards alive

In his art so ill doth thrive.

He might try for days together.

And not start one plume of heather.

Truth to say, the only Amphionic music the trees
hear nowadays is the ring of the woodman's axe,
their only dance a short, giddy reel.

There are spirits of the sylvan and spirits of the
open, natural interpreters of the woods and inter-
preters of the fields. The true spiritual descen-
dants of the Druids are a small minority. How
many of us, while loving trees, are also lovers of the
mid-forest and deep shade? If not lost in the
woods, we are much at a loss there. The surround-
ing is alien. A latent timorousness akin to super-
stition starts up and walks with us, advising:

Of forests and enchantments drear.
Where more is meant than meets the ear.

This under-meaning or over-meaning of the woods
still baflSes. Their most gracious invitation and
salutation at a little distance are never quite made
good when I have stepped across their precincts.
Foretaste of their indifference has often kept me
a traveler ''all around Robin Hood's bam/' rather



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198 ARBOR DAY

than through it Or is it that, not greatly fond of
interiors (of woodland interiors, even), I prefer
to stand or sit in the strong-pillared portico, and
gaze thence far into the mysterious presence-filled
sanctuary? Were I within, the preached word
would but puzzle my child-like capacity. Such
impression I have of the woods in full leaf, roofed
over and curtained round. In winter, in early
spring, or in late autumn, when the sky's good light
keeps me in countenance, my wood-wit is less dull.
Looking sunward through these long aisles, I see
the dead leaves repeatedly lifted on the awakening
wind. The ground itself seems to acquire motion
from their fluctuations, and appears now rising, now
subsiding, as the wind comes or goes. Are the leaves
surely dead ? Near by they have a cautionary speech
all their own, a continuous "hist*' and "'sh" —
sounds distinct from the sonorous wind-march
through the tree-tops. Soul of the forest and of all
sylvan summers gone, set free by the blown ripe leaves
— I flush it, and follow it through the shrill woods t



THE WAYSIDE INN — AN APPLE TREE

FROM THE GERMAN

I HALTED at a pleasant inn,

As I my way was wending —
A golden apple was the sign,

From knotty bough depending.



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FOREST HYMN 199

Mine host — it was an apple tree —

He smilingly received me,
And spread his sweetest, choicest fruit

To strengthen and relieve me.

Full many a little feathered guest
Came through his branches springing;

They hopped and flew from spray to spray,
Their notes of gladness singing.

Beneath his shade I laid me down,
And slumber sweet possessed me;

The soft wind blowing through the leaves
With whispers low caressed me.

And when I rose and would have paid

My host, so open-hearted,
He only shook his lofty head —

I blessed him and departed.



FOREST HYMN

BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT

The groves were God's first temples. Ere man

learned
To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave,
And spread the roof above them — ere he framed
The lofty vault to gather and roll back
The sound of anthems — in the darkling wood,



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200 ARBOR DAY

Amidst the cool and sQence, he knelt down
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplications.

For his simple heart
Might not resist the sacred influences
That, from the stilly twilight of the place,
And from the gray old tnmks that high in heaven
Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound
Of the invisible breath that swayed at once
All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed
His spirit with the thought of boundless Power
And inaccessible Majesty.

Ah! why
Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect
God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore
Only among the crowd, and under roofs
That our frail hands have raised ? Let me, at least,
Here, in the shadow of this aged wood.
Offer one hymn, thrice happy if it find
Acceptance in his ear.

Father, Thy hand
Hath reared these venerable columns: Thou
Didst weave this verdant roof. Thou didst look down
Upon the naked earth, and forthwith rose
All these fair ranks of trees. They in Thy sun
Budded, and shook their green leaves in Thy breeze,
And shot toward heaven. The century-living crow,



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FOREST HYMN 201

Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died
Among their branches; till at last they stood,
As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark —
Fit shrine for humble worshiper to hold
Communion with his Maker.

Here are seen
No traces of man's pomp or pride; no silks
Rustle, no jewels shine, nor envious eyes
Encoimter; no fantastic carvings show
The boast of our vain race to change the form
Of thy fair works- But Thou art here; Thou fill'st
The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds
That run along the summits of these trees
In music; Thou art in the cooler breath
That from the inmost darkness of the place
Comes scarcely felt; the barky trimks, the grouna,
The fresh, moist ground, are all instinct with Thee.

Here is continual worship; nature, here,
In the tranquillity that Thou dost love.
Enjoys thy presence. Noiselessly around
From perch to perch, the solitary bird
Passes; and yon clear spring, that midst its herbs
Wells softly forth, and visits the strong roots
Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale
Of all the good it does.

Thou hast not left
Thyself without a witness, in these shades,



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202 ARBOR DAY

Of Thy perfections. Grandeur, strength, and grace

Are here to speak of Thee. This mighty oak —

By whose immovable stem I stand, and seem

Almost annihilated — not a prince

In all the proud Old World beyond the deep

E'er wore his crown as loftily as he

Wears the green coronal of leaves with which

Thy hand has graced him.

Nestled at his root
Is beauty such as blooms not in the glare
Of the broad sim. That delicate forest-flower,
With scented breath and look so like a smile,
Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mold,
An emanation of the indwelling Life,
A visible token of the upholding Love,
That are the soul of this wide imiverse^

My heart is awed within me when I think

Of the great nuracle that still goes on

In silence round me — the perpetual work

Of Thy creation, finished, yet renewed

Forever. Written on Thy works I read

The lesson of Thy own eternity.

Lol all grow old and die; but see again

How, on the faltering footsteps of decay.

Youth presses — ever gay and beautiful youth —

In all its beautiful forms. These lofty trees

Wave not less proudly than their ancestors

Mdder beneath them.



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FOREST HYMN 203

Oh, there is not lost
One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet,
After the flight of untold centuries,
The freshness of her fair beginning lies,
And yet shall lie. Life mocks the idle hate
Of his arch-enemy Death; yea, seats himself
Upon the sepulchre, and blooms and smiles,
And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe
Makes his own nourishment For he came forth
From Thine own bosom, and shall have no end.

There have been holy men who hid themselves

Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave

Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived

The generation bom with them, nor seemed

Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks

Around them; and there have been holy men

Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.

But let me often to these solitudes

Retire, and in Thy presence reassure

My feeble virtue. Here its enemies,

The passions, at Thy plainer footsteps shrink

And tremble, and are still.

O God! when Thou
Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire
The heavens with falling thunder-bolts, or fill.
With all the waters of the firmament.
The swift, dark whirlwind that uproots the woods



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204 ARBOR DAY

And drowns the villages; when, at Thy call,
Uprises the great deep and throws himself
Upon the continent, and overwhelms
Its cities; who forgets not, at the sight
Of these tremendous tokens of Thy powers
His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by?

Oh, from these sterner aspects of Thy face
Spare me and mine; nor let us need the wrath
Of the mad, unchained elements to teach
Who rules them. Be it oiurs to mediate.
In these calm shades. Thy milder majesty,
And to the beautiful order of Thy works
Learn to conform the order of our lives*



FROM

HAROLD THE DAUNTLESS

BY SIR WALTER SCOTT

*Tis merry in greenwood, thus runs the old lay^
In the gladsome month of lively May,
When the wild bird's song on stem and spray

Invites to forest bower;
Then rears the ash his airy crest
Then shines the birch in silver vest,
And the beech in glistening leaves is drest,
And dark between shows the oak's proud breast.

Like a chieftain's frowning tower.



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A FAMOUS COUPLET 205

THE MAJESTY OF TREES

BY WASHINGTON IRVING

There is a serene and settled majesty in wood-
land scenery that enters into the soul, and delights
and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.
As the leaves of trees are said to absorb all noxious
qualities of the air and to breathe forth a purer
atmosphere, so it seems to me as if they drew from
us all sordid and angry passions, and breathed forth
peace and philanthropy.

There is something nobly simple and pure in a
taste for the cultivation of forest trees. It argues
I think, a sweet and generous nature to have this
strong relish for the beauties of vegetation, and
this friendship for the hardy and glorious sons of the
forest There is a grandeur of thought connected
with this part of rural economy. It is, if I may be
allowed the figure, the heroic line of husbandry. It
is worthy of liberal, and free-bom, and aspiring meiL
He who plants an oak, looks forward to future ages,
and plants for posterity. Nothing can be less selfish
than this.



A FAMOUS COUPLET

BY ALEXANDER POPE

TTis education forms the common mind;
Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined.



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3o6 ARBOR DAY

A FEW OLD PROVERBS

ANONYMOUS

^If the Oak is out before the Ash,
Twill be a summer of wet and splash;
If the Ash is out before the Oak,
Twill be a summer of fire and smoke."

''When the Hawthorn bloom too early shows,
We shall have still many snows."

*' When the Oak puts on his goslings gray
Tis time to sow barley night or day."

''When Elm leaves are big as a shilling,
Plant kidney beans if you are willing;
When Elm leaves are as big as a penny,
You must plant beans if you wish to have any.'^



HISTORIC TREES

BY ALEXANDER SMITH

I DO not wonder that great earls value their trees
and never, save in the direst extremity, lift upon them
the axe. Ancient descent and glory are made
audible in the proud murmur of immemorial woods.
There are forests in England whose leafy noises



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HISTORIC TREES 207

may be shaped into Agincourt, and the names of
the battlefields of the Roses; oaks that dropped
theur acorns in the year that Henry VUI. held his
field of the Cloth of Gold, and beeches that gave
shelter to the deer when Shakespeare was a boy.
There they stand, in sim and shower, the broad-
armed witnesses of perished centuries; and sore must
his need be who commands a woodland massacre.
A great tree, the rings of a century in its boll, is one
of the noblest of natural objects; and it touches the
imagination no less than the eye, for it grows out of
tradition and a past order of things, and is pathetic
with the suggestions of dead generations. Trees
waving a colony of rooks in the wind to-day are
older than historic lines. Trees are your best
antiques. There are cedars on Lebanon which the
axes of Solomon spared, they say, when he was busy
with his Temple; there are olives on Olivet that
might have rustled in the ears of the Master of the
Twelve; there are oaks in Sherwood which have
tingled to the horn of Robin Hood, and have lis-
tened to Maid Marian's laugh. Think of an exist-
ing Syrian cedar which is nearly as old as history,
which was middle-aged before the wolf suckled
Romulus; think of an existing English elm in whose
branches the heron was reared which the hawks
of Saxon Harold killed! If you are a notable, and
wish to be remembered, better plant a tree than
build a city or strike a medal — it will outlast both.



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ao8 ARBOR DAY

THE OAK*

BY JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

What gnarIM stretch, what depth of shade, is his I

There needs no crown to mark the foresf s
king;
How in his leaves outshines full summer's bliss

Sun, storm, rain, dew, to him their tribute bring.
How doth his patient strength the rude March
wind

Persuade to seem glad breaths of summer breeze.
And win the soil that fain would be imkind.

To swell his revenues with proud increasel
So, from oft converse with life's wintry gales.

Should man learn how to clasp with tougher
roots
The inspiring earth; how otherwise avails

The leaf-creating sap that upward shoots?

Lord! all thy works are lessons; each contains

Some emblem of man's all-containing soul;
Shall he make fruitless all thy glorious pains.

Delving within thy grace, an eyeless mole?
Make me the least of thy Dodona grove.

Cause me some message of thy truth to bring,
Speak but a word through me, nor let thy love

Among my boughs disdain to perch and sing.

^By permission of the publishers, Houghton, Mifflin & Co.



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A TRUE NOBLEMAN M9
A TRUE NOBLEMAN

BY WASHINGTON IRVING


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryRobert Haven SchaufflerArbor day, its history, observance, spirit and significance; with practical selections on tree-planting and conservation, and a nature anthology → online text (page 11 of 18)