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| Home | Reading Room The New McGuffey Fourth Reader

The New McGuffey Fourth Reader
by William H. McGuffey, Compiler

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By William Cullen Bryant

Come, let us plant the apple tree.

Cleave the tough greensward with the spade;

Wide let its hollow bed be made;

There gently lay the roots, and there

Sift the dark mold with kindly care,

And press it o'er them tenderly,

As round the sleeping infant's feet

We softly fold the cradle sheet;

So plant we the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?

Buds, which the breath of summer days

Shall lengthen into leafy sprays;

Boughs where the thrush, with crimson breast,

Shall haunt, and sing, and hide her nest;

We plant, upon the sunny lea,

A shadow for the noontide hour,

A shelter from the summer shower,

When we plant the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?

Sweets for a hundred flowery springs,

To load the May wind's restless wings,

When, from the orchard row, he pours

Its fragrance through our open doors;

ùA world of blossoms for the bee,

Flowers for the sick girl's silent room,

For the glad infant sprigs of bloom,

We plant with the apple tree.

What plant we in this apple tree?

Fruits that shall swell in sunny June,

And redden in the August noon,

And drop, when gentle airs come by,

That fan the blue September sky,

While children come, with cries of glee,

And seek them where the fragrant grass

Betrays their bed to those who pass,

At the foot of the apple tree.

And when, above this apple tree,

The winter stars are quivering bright,

The winds go howling through the night,

Girls, whose young eyes o'erflow with mirth,

Shall peel its fruit by cottage hearth,

And guests in prouder homes shall see,

Heaped with the grape of Cintra's vine,

And golden orange of the line,

The fruit of the apple tree.

The fruitage of this apple tree,

Winds and our flag of stripe and star

Shall bear to coasts that lie afar,

Where men shall wonder at the view,

And ask in what fair groves they grew;

And sojourners beyond the sea

Shall think of childhood's careless day,

And long, long hours of summer play,

In the shade of the apple tree.

Each year shall give this apple tree

A broader flush of roseate bloom,

A deeper maze of verdurous gloom,

And loosen, when the frost-clouds lower,

The crisp brown leaves in thicker shower.

The years shall come and pass, but we

Shall hear no longer, where we lie,

The summer's songs, the autumn's sigh,

In the boughs of the apple tree.

And time shall waste this apple tree.

Oh, when its aged branches throw

Thin shadows on the ground below,

Shall fraud and force and iron will

Oppress the weak and helpless still?

What shall the tasks of mercy be,

Amid the toils, the strifes, the tears

Of those who live when length of years

Is wasting this apple tree?

"Who planted this old apple tree?"

The children of that distant day

Thus to some aged man shall say;

And, gazing on its mossy stem,

The gray-haired man shall answer them:

"A poet of the land was he,

Born in the rude but good old times;

'Tis said he made some quaint old rhymes

On planting the apple tree."


Greensward, turf or sod green with grass.

Mold, crumbling earth.

Lea, a grassy field.

Cintra, a town in Portugal noted for its fine climate and its delicious grapes.

Line, the equator.

Roseate, rose-colored.

Verdurous, greenish.



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