Poetry Friday: Woodman, Spare That Tree

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Poetry Friday is hosted by Katya @ Write, Sketch, Repeat

The beautiful oak that graced our house for some 200 years has had to come down.  We wrestled with this decision for a long time. Who in his right mind would willfully bring down something so beautiful and true?  But the storms that we’ve seen recently were terrifying, and our oak stood shoulder to shoulder with our house – too close for comfort.  My husband was home to greet the crew, and all day I received photographs of this dreadful process .  It began raining as I drove home – even the sky was weeping.  And now we are safe, but there is a hole in our hearts, and we are a house in mourning.  I avert my eyes when I drive by our house.  I feel the absence of our steadfast friend.

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Woodman, Spare That Tree

by George Pope Morris
(1802-1864)

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 axe 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;
O, spare that aged 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 axe shall hurt it not. 


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11 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Woodman, Spare That Tree

  1. Pingback: Kenning Poetry | Write. Sketch. Repeat. — Katya Czaja

  2. The landscape of our homes does become part of us, doesn’t it? I have an apple tree in my front yard that I would be just as sad to lose. If I’ve read this poem, I’ve forgotten it, so thank you for sharing it today.

  3. Sorry for that huge loss. Remember that I said I probably bought this new home for the great tree that sits beside it. I understand, and wish it could be different. Hope you’re going to do something with part of it! “My heart-strings round thee cling” – lovely poem, Tara.

  4. It seems you have found a poem that expresses your feelings well. Its age shows how ageless is our love for trees. Did you save some of the wood? Perhaps you can make a memento to memorialize your oak friend.

  5. “My heart-strings round thee cling”
    ” there is a hole in our hearts, and we are a house in mourning”
    Your words match the pain of your loss. I’m so sorry.

  6. Yes, I can understand your sorrow. It’s hard to rank our human needs above those of other living beings.

    Your connection to the tree reminds me of Frost’s poem, Tree at my Window, which I memorized in honor of the big maple outside my childhood bedroom window. A maple which is aging and failing and may soon have to be cut down…

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/tree-at-my-window/

  7. You certainly found the perfect poem to express yourself, Tara. I’m sorry for your loss. My daughter openly cries every time she sees someone taking down a tree, but unfortunately, we may be in a similar predicament soon.

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