They dreamed so long of all the flying things—
Flying clouds, with opalescent wings;
Flying birds, who had no fetters anywhere,
All the enraptured creatures of the air—
That, when the storm came sweeping down the sky,
They lifted all their leaves with the one cry;
"Now—now we shall fly!"
And I, who saw them romping in high glee,
Whose torn, mad banners boasted liberty,
Said: "There is something here of wild adventure and delight,
For trees are surely winged creatures poised for flight,"
And watched their revelry and almost seemed to see
How every tossing branch was saying, "Free! Free!"
Enchanted of the sky, each tree forgetting
Its earthly setting.
But in the rain-stilled quiet of the afternoon
I passed again, and saw how all too soon
Their revelry had ended, and each stood
Subdued and chastened by the rebuking wood,
Each stared with wonder on the enduring ground,
Where still their roots had anchor, firmly bound
By laws that had no thought for yearning cries
Or longing branches, straining toward the skies.
Thinking of human poplars whom I knew,
Musing, I said: "The same grim law holds true—
People, like trees, reach out to claim the sky,
Just to be free! Theirs, too, the same wild cry.
Theirs, too, the dream of fetters cast away,
Till comes the quiet of the revealing day.
And lo! rebuking laws whose roots are found
Deeper than any tree that ties the ground,
Sunk in the conscience of the human race,
No frenzied wish may tear them from their place;
No dream of any tree may lift it from the sod
No word of man may change the laws of God.
By being true to edicts earth declares are right
Mortals and trees may soar into the light;
By being faithful to their human bars
Mortals and trees may tower to the stars.