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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

On a Cone of the Big Trees

By Bret Harte (1836–1902)

(Sequoia Gigantea)

BROWN foundling of the Western wood,

Babe of primeval wildernesses!

Long on my table thou hast stood

Encounters strange and rude caresses;

Perchance contented with thy lot,

Surroundings new and curious faces,

As though ten centuries were not

Imprisoned in thy shining cases.

Thou bring’st me back the halcyon days

Of grateful rest, the week of leisure,

The journey lapped in autumn haze,

The sweet fatigue that seemed a pleasure,

The morning ride, the noonday halt,

The blazing slopes, the red dust rising,

And then the dim, brown, columned vault,

With its cool, damp, sepulchral spicing.

Once more I see the rocking masts

That scrape the sky, their only tenant

The jay-bird, that in frolic casts

From some high yard his broad blue pennant.

I see the Indian files that keep

Their places in the dusty heather,

Their red trunks standing ankle-deep

In moccasins of rusty leather.

I see all this, and marvel much

That thou, sweet woodland waif, art able

To keep the company of such

As throng thy friend’s the poet’s table:

The latest spawn the press hath cast,—

The “modern Popes,” “the later Byrons,”—

Why, e’en the best may not outlast

Thy poor relation Sempervirens!

Thy sire saw the light that shone

On Mohammed’s uplifted crescent,

On many a royal gilded throne

And deed forgotten in the present;

He saw the age of sacred trees

And Druid groves and mystic larches;

And saw from forest domes like these

The builder bring his Gothic arches.

And must thou, foundling, still forego

Thy heritage and high ambition,

To lie full lowly and full low,

Adjusted to thy new condition?

Not hidden in the drifted snows,

But under ink-drops idly spattered,

And leaves ephemeral as those

That on thy woodland tomb were scattered?