James McIntyre

(25 May 1828 – 31 March 1906 / Forres, Scotland)

Lament of the Maple Tree


I laid me down one day in June;
It was late-long after noon-
A very sultry summer's eve,
Such times the senses oft deceive.
The place was 'neath a maple tree,
Soon from all cares and troubles free,
By a gentle, kindly slumber,
No more our sorrows we could number.
But we heard a plaintive wail,
Such as we find in fairy tale ;
It was the genius of the tree,
Who, in sad guise, appeared to me.
And then she sadly did give vent
Unto this awful, grave lament,
'Though I am gay in month of June,
All decked in green ; yet very soon,
Alas ! my beauty will be faded,
And my charms be all degraded,
For is my time of glory brief ;
So often flattered is my leaf.
In Canada, so broad and free,
All poets sing of the maple tree.
High I stand, in their opinion,
Emblem of the New Dominion.
The reason I do them upbraid,
Some never slept beneath my shade ;
And yet they take the liberty
To chant about the maple tree.
They dare to poetize my leaf -
is the source of all my grief.
I think their praises all so rude,
And as but base in gratitude ;
So often hackneyed is my name,
That every fall I burn with shame-
Like maiden's cheek which blushes red

When vain rash youth asks her to wed.
Then do these foolish ones descry
In me fresh beauty, and they sigh,
And then renew their songs of praise-
But unto me now sad their lays ;
For then I know my days are brief,
'Tis hectic flush upon my leaf.
True poets, then, should mournful sing,
When the destroyer's on the wing ;
For then I know my leaves of gold
Will all soon mingle with the mould.
No one does ever think to praise
The fell destroyer when he slays ;
No one rejoice in the flushed cheek,
When the poor girl is low and weak.
Perhaps they'll say, and it is true,
In Spring my glory I'll renew ;
But' tis poor comfort after all
To lose my offspring every Fall.
Small consolation to mother
To tell her that soon another
Will replace her fond darling boy,
Who has been source of all her joy.
But you know all about my wood,
You know that it is strong and good ;
And I have full many a curl,
And pleasing eye and charming nurl.
Some love me as fond nature grain'd
And some prefer my beauties stain'd ;
But my dear friend I hope that you
My varied shades like pure and true,
For of the woods you know the staple,
Stoutest and best, is good maple.
The youth my sugar eat with glee
And old maids love me in their tea.
In me do various uses meet-
In summer shade, in winter heat,
For I do make a glorious blaze,
All worthy of the poet's lays ;
But to their praises I'll be deaf
If more they harp about my leaf-

They call me gay when I am sober,
To me 'tis gloomy month, October.
But saints on earth, when they die
Hope for true bliss beyond the sky,
So winter does bring no alarms
Though it strip bare my trunk and arms,
For now I know that time will bring
More glorious foliage in the spring.
Then, all nature will rejoice,
Triumphing with glorious voice,
And birds will, in my branches, sing
Hosannas to the lovely spring.

[The nurls and bird's eyes and curls were highly prized
in furniture thirty years ago, when we used the smooth plain.

Submitted: Friday, May 04, 2012

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