Poetry of Kansas

The Old Butternut Tree.

It stood by the old front gate___oh, long ago.___
Braving the summer storm and the winter snow;
And fresh among memory's treasures, so dear to me,
Stands in perpetual greenness that ancient tree.
Out on the roadside green, where passing feet
Turned to its wide-spread shade from the dusty street,
And laughing children, loitering home from school,
Sought, with their cheeks aflame, its shadows cool.
Here gathered the early birds, and built and sung;
The oriole's cunning nest from the branches swung;
Its broad arms sheltered from the noontide's blaze;
And the nuts dropped on tim turf in the autumn days.
In summer eves, when work was laid away,
And rest and coolness ended the sultry day,
When up the west the sunset unrolled its gold,
Like billows of gorgeous sea, fold over fold,
Then gathered the household band about the knee
Of the old Butternut, the homestead tree
They watched till the glow went out and dews came down,
And the moon wore up the east her silver crown.
All were together then; where are they now?
The world is wide, as the sundered dear ones know;
And children, cradled on one mother's breast,
Scattered, like eaglets from their mountain nest.
The brothers are bearded men, and threads of gray
Whiten the clustering locks from day to day.
Each lights his household fire___so must it be___
While strangers sit in the shade of the dear old tree.
But one sleeps on the bill, one far away,
And the gray-haired sire has lain, this many a day,
By the side of the mother who sang sweet lullabies,
And followed our childish feet with her gentle eyes.
A generation has passed and been laid away;
But the dear old roadside tree stands there to-day.
Hoary, lopped, and scared by ninny a storm,
Yet the summers still veil with leaves its battered fern
Still streams through the broken boughs the sunset rays;
Still drop the nuts on the turf in the autumn days;
But the olden joys can never come back to me,
And the household gods have flown the homestead tree

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 162-163

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November 26, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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