Graphic from the book for the top of even-numbered pages

Goodbye To The Cottonwood

On the cottonwood tree rests the shadow of doom,
The useless old tree with its feathery bloom
Blowing widely adrift like the scattering snow.
Falling mutely in heaps, wind-swept to and fro,
    The hardy old tree,
    The pioneer tree,
Through years that are gone
    It waited a hand
    To conquer the land,
And its people in triumph lead on, ever on.

When the tender young elm and the maple tree gay,
When the poplar and oak withered down in dismay
At the hot brazen heavens of sweltering June,
And the breath of July like the desert simoon,
    Then alkali soil,
    Then dry barren soil,
It felt the firm grasp
    Of roots that were strong
    Seeking waters among
The low hidden deeps that the cool fountains clasp.

On the young settler's "homestead" first planted with grain
From the hard skies it courted the life-giving rain.
O'erthe first little dugout its soft shadows crept,
To its murmuring music the wee babies slept,
    And there to its shade,
    Its sheltering shade,
Fond lovers would come,
    In strange prairie lands
    It reached out warm hands
To the hearts that were aching and longing for home.

'Gainst the drouth, and the cyclone, the plague and
        the heat
The old cottonwood tree planted firmly its feet.
But at last it must bow. Are my eyes getting dim?
'Tis but sentiment surely, a woman's soft whim
    That would keep to the last
    This old tree of the past,
As the memories we keep
    Of the men who stood firm
    In the early day storm,
The strong "builders of empire" whose labors we reap.

__Margaret Hill McCarter   
 
Sunflowers, A Book of Kansas Poems
Selected by Willard Wattles
pages 34-35
(Chicago: A. C. McClurg. 1916)
 
September 19, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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