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

John James Piatt (1835–1917)

The Blackberry Farm

NATURE gives with freèst hands

Richest gifts to poorest lands.

When the lord has sown his last,

And his field’s to desert passed,

She begins to claim her own,

And instead of harvest flown—

Sunburnt sheaves and golden ears—

Sends her hardier pioneers:

Barbarous brambles, outlawed seeds;

The first families of weeds

Fearing neither sun nor wind,

With the flowers of their kind

(Outcasts of the garden-bound),

Colonize the expended ground,

Using (none her right gainsay)

Confiscations of decay:

Thus she clothes the barren place,

Old disgrace, with newer grace.

Title-deeds, which cover lands

Ruled and reaped by buried hands,

She—disowning owners old,

Scorning their “to have and hold”—

Takes herself: the moldering fence

Hides with her munificence;

O’er the crumbled gate-post twines

Her proprietary vines;

On the doorstep of the house

Writes in moss “Anonymous,”

And, that beast and bird may see,

“This is Public Property;”

To the bramble makes the sun

Bearer of profusion;

Blossom-odors breathe in June

Promise of her later boon,

And in August’s brazen heat

Grows the prophecy complete;—

Lo, her largess glistens bright,

Blackness diamonded with light!

Then, behold, she welcomes all

To her annual festival:

“Mine the fruit, but yours as well,”

Speaks the Mother Miracle;

“Rich and poor are welcome; come,

Make to-day millennium

In my garden of the sun:

Black and white to me are one.

This my freehold use content,—

Here no landlord rides for rent;

I proclaim my jubilee,

In my Black Republic, free.

Come,” she beckons; “enter, through

Gates of gossamer, doors of dew

(Lit with summer’s tropic fire),

My Liberia of the brier.”