The Tree [poem by C. J. Dennis]

[Editor: This poem by C. J. Dennis was published in The Singing Garden (1935).]

The Tree

I planted here, to-day, a strong young tree.
Rich soil it has, and sun, and space to grow;
And who, I wonder, in the years to be
Will seek its boughs’ soft shade; for well I know
Long ere this slender plant grows full and round
He who now tends it shall be sleeping sound.

What manner of a man will sit to view
This now familiar scene when those shades spread?
Will he be thankful that he never knew
These days of strange, uncomprehended dread?
Or will he, gazing back, find cause to sigh
For olden peace, for happier days gone by?

I planted here, to-day, a strong young hope
That, when this tree’s green banners be unfurled,
There shall come singing down this verdant slope
Some wiser mortal of a wiser world.
And if he bless the man who set the tree,
And be content, so, mayhap, shall I be.

C. J. Dennis, The Singing Garden, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1935, page 152

Editor’s notes:
ere = before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)

mayhap = perhaps; perchance; possibly

sleeping = a euphemism for being dead (e.g. “sleeping in the grave”)

verdant = countryside covered with lush green grass or other plant life; may also refer to the colour green, or to someone who is “green” (i.e. lacking experience, judgment, or sophistication)

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