Gateway to the Classics: Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt
 
Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt

Woodman, Spare That Tree!

"Woodman, Spare That Tree" (by George Pope Morris, 1802-64) is included in this collection because I have loved it all my life, and I never knew any one who could or would offer a criticism upon it. Its value lies in its recognition of childhood's pleasures.

Woodman, spare that tree!

Touch not a single bough!

In youth it sheltered me,

And I'll protect it now.

'Twas my forefather's hand

That placed it near his cot;

There, woodman, let it stand,

Thy ax shall harm it not.


That old familiar tree,

Whose glory and renown

Are spread o'er land and sea—

And wouldst thou hew it down?

Woodman, forbear thy stroke!

Cut not its earth-bound ties;

Oh, spare that agèd oak

Now towering to the skies!


When but an idle boy,

I sought its grateful shade;

In all their gushing joy

Here, too, my sisters played.

My mother kissed me here;

My father pressed my hand—

Forgive this foolish tear,

But let that old oak stand.


My heart-strings round thee cling,

Close as thy bark, old friend!

Here shall the wild-bird sing,

And still thy branches bend.

Old tree! the storm still brave!

And, woodman, leave the spot;

While I've a hand to save,

Thy ax shall harm it not.


George Pope Morris.


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