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Arbor Day Teacher's Guide: Poems



Poetic Aphorisms

When the Green Gits Back in the Trees

In the spring when the green gits back in the trees,
And the sun comes out and stays,
And your boots pull on with a good tight squeeze
And you think of your barefoot days;
When you ort to work and you want to not,
And you and your wife agrees
It's time to spade up your garden lot-
When the green gits back on the trees.
Well, work is the least of my idees
When the green you know, gits back on the trees.

When the green gits back in the trees and bees
Is a buzzin around' agin,
In that kind of a "Lazy-go-as-you-please"
Old gait they humb roun' in;
When the ground's all bold where the hayrick stood
And the crick's riz, and the breeze
Coaxing the bloom in the old dogwood,
And the green gits back in the trees-
I like, as I say, in such scenes as these,
The time when the green gits back on the trees.

When the whole tail feathers o' winter time
Is pulled out and gone,
And the sap it thaws and begins to climb,
And the sweat it starts out on
A feller's forrerd, a gitten' down
At the old spring on his knees-
I kind o' like jes' a loaferin' aroun'
When the green gits back in the trees-
Jes' a-potterin' roun' as I-durn-please,
When the green, you know, gits back in the trees.

James Whitcomb Riley


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree,
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain,
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

Plant Trees

This day, two hundred years ago,
The wild grape by the river's side;
And tasteless groundnut trailing low,
The table of the woods supplied.

Unknown the apple's red and gold,
The blushing tint of peach and pear;
The mirror of the Powow told,
No tale of orchards ripe and rare.

Wild as the fruits he scorned to till,
These vales the idle Indian trod;
Nor knew the glad creative skill,--
The joy of him who toils with God.

O Painter of the fruits and flowers!
We thank thee for thy wise design;
Whereby these humble hands of ours,
In Nature's garden work with thine.

John G. Whittier

Arbor Day

In the early autumn,
When the leaves begin to fall
From off the pretty saplings
And the other trees so tall,
Is when I like to look around
To find some lonesome tree,
And take it up and plant it where
It may have company.

On the cherished play-ground
Where we passed our morning life,
And where the playful sunbeams
Chased away false pride and strife,
I think it is a fitting place
To plant a little grove,
And thus afford the little folks
A share in Nature's love.

Also, will the children,
While they study, while they play
Be elevated greatly
By the songbird's roundelay;
For they will find true happiness
Among the merry birds,
And thus a lesson will be taught
By signs instead of words.

In the coming seasons
Will the shadows on the wall
Portray a perfect picture
Of the life we would recall;
And when the winds of night-time
Chance to murmur soft and low,
They will the branches tell of that
Which happened long ago.

--Walton F. Stover

The Voice of Spring

I come, I come! Ye have called me long;
I come o'er the mountains with light and song,
Ye may trace my steps o'er the walking earth,
By the winds which tell of the violet's birth,
By the primrose stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass.

I have breathed on the South, and the chestnut flowers
By thousands have burst from the forest bowers,
And the ancient graves and the fallen fanes
Are vailed with wreaths on Italia's plains;
But 'tis not for me, in my hour of bloom,
To speak of the ruin or of the tomb.

I have looked o'er the hills of the stormy North,
And the larch has hung all his tassels forth;
The fisher is out on the sunny sea,
And the reindeer bounds o'er the pastures free;
And the pine has a fringe of softer green,
And the moss looks bright where my foot hath been.

From the streams and the founts I have loosed the chain;
They are seeping down to the silvery main;
They are flashing down from the mountain brows;
They are flinging spray o'er the forest boughs;
They are bursting fresh from the forest caves,
And the earth resounds with the joy of waves.

Come forth, O ye children of gladness, come!
Where the violets lie may be now your home.
Ye of the rose-lip, and dew-bright eye,
And the bounding footsteps, to meet me, fly!
With the lyre and the wreath and the joyous lay,
Come forth to the sunshine; I may not stay.

Mrs. Hemans

"I'll help to plant trees,
I'll plant apples, and peaches and cherries and plums,
So I'll always have plenty to give my chums;
But not for the world and all of its riches,
Will I help to plant any tree that grows switches."

Frances Frey

An April Day

When the warm sun that brings
Seed time and harvest has returned again,
'Tis sweet to visit the still wood where
springs The first flower of the plain.

I love the season well,
When forest glades are teaming with bright forms,
Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell
The coming on of storms.

From the earth's loosened mould
The sapling draws its sustenance and thrives;
Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold,
The drooping tree revives.

The softly-warbled song
Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings
Glance quick in the bright sun that moves along
The forest openings.

When the bright sunset fills
The silver woods with light, the green slope throws
Its shadows in the hollows of the hills,
And wide the upland glows.

And when the eye is born,
In the blue lake the sky o'erreaching far
Is hollowed out, and the moon dips her horn
And twinkles many a star.

Inverted in the tide,
Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw,
And the fair trees look over side by side,
And see themselves below.

Sweet April! Many a thought
Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed;
Nor shall they fail till, to its autumn brought,
Life's golden fruit is shed.


Dialogue of a Man and a Tree

The Man
Why do you grow so tall, tree,
Way up there in the sky?

The Tree
I love the heights that are clean and free,
Where the lonely eagles fly,
Where the crane and the hawk can nest with me,
And my friends, the geese, go by.

The Man
What do you use for food, tree,
To make you grow and grow?

The Tree
I live on a diet of Nature's best,
From my roots deep down below;
I never go hungry, I rest and rest
And wait for the rain and the snow.

The Man
How do you grow so strong, tree,
Sturdy and straight and true?

The Tree
I live in the light of the sunshine
And yearn for the sky's deep blue,
The clean sweet air is always mine,
And the cold winds help me too.

The Man
How do you live so long, tree,
So much longer than man?

The Tree
I've geared my days with the Creator's ways
Since ever the world began
There is no death when life keeps faith
With nature's wonderful plan.

Poetic Aphorisms

To him who, in the love of nature, holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings with a mild
And gentle sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware.


Like leaves on trees the life of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
Another race the following spring supplies,
They fall successive and successive rise;
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, while those have passed away.


There is no death! The dust we tread
Shall change beneath the summer showers
To golden grain or mellow fruit,
Or rainbow-tinted flowers.

--Lord Lytton

The tree hath hope-if it be cut down,
It becometh green again,
And new shoots are put forth.
If even its stock die in the ground,
From vapor of water it will bud,
And bring forth boughs as a young plant.

--The Book of Job

These airs, whose breathing stirs
The fresh grass, are our fellow-worshippers.
See, as they pass, they swing
O'er the young herbs of spring,
And the sweet odors like a prayer ascend,
While, passing thence, the breeze
Wakes the grave anthem of the forest trees.


Out of the years bloom the eternities;
From earth-clogged root
Life climbs through leaf and bud by slow
slow degrees,
Till some far cycle heavenly blossom sees,
And perfect fruit.

--Lucy Larcom

O whispering trees, companions, sages, friends,
No change in you, whatever friendship ends;
No deed of yours the Eden link e'er broke;
Bared is your head to ward the lightning's stroke.
You fed the infant man and blessed his cot,
Hewed from your grain; without you he were not.
The hand that planned you planned the future, too:
Shall we distrust it, knowing such as you.

--Joaquin Miller

This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope; to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him;
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And when he thinks, good, easy man, full surely
His greatness is a-ripening-nips his roots,
And then he falls, as I do.