Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
Lying alone beneath the greenness
And the dim cool reach
Of lofty pines,
The trees lean low and sing to me,
Winds of the high blue
Go lightly through
Their furthest tips,
And the leafy boughs
Sway lazily. and whisper me
Soft names. The tall trunks
Move in the breeze.
Some tremor of their windy height
Comes down to me. The sun
Flecks through the moving leaves
And on the dark ground weaves
A curious shifting pattern.
Hot from the forests far around
The wind breathes slow and fragrantly...
Scented with heady pine,
Trees are wondrous things,
Glorious great, upstanding, living things -
The green irregular plan *
Of leaves and boughs
That lift to the deep sky,
Fretted against the heaven's blue
In a lovely and an intricate design
The round column of the trunk
As straight and high
As a strong pillar in an olden temple -
The rough texture of the shaggy bark
And the long white roots
Creeping with sure blind fingers
Under the dark earth
To find rich strength and life.
Strength of the tree's white heart
Shapes lines of mighty sailing ships,
Is wrought to chairs
And doors and shelves,
And countless things that fill men's homes.
And some trees come at last to fire,
Go in bright flame and cloudy smoke,
Swirl red and faint and red again,
Flaunt banner-like, go proud and higher,
Escape at last,
These trees that never die,
To the free air and the wide sky.
What lovelier thing
Ever gave God to man than trees?
The slim white birches stand
Like girls of ivory
In some dim forest aisle,
Bright lines of delicate white
Rising to tender loaves
And swaying tops.
And apple-orchards in the spring -
Can memory hold dearer thing
Than gnarled gray trees
With fragrant blossoms
Clustered pale-pink on purest white,
in some old apple-orchard,
Still and sweet?
And the stately pine, remembered against a hill,
And the dark coolness
Of the cedar and the fir -
Mysterious trees, of low and prayerful murmurings.
Trees are like men:
All. kinds grow side by side,
Beech, and the strong oak, spreading wide,
Tall poplar, and the maple, and the pine.
All turn to the same sun
For warmth and light,
All drink the same cool, welcome rain.
All move to the same great wind,
And all stir slowly through the living night.