Home  »  Spoon River Anthology  »  217. Samuel Gardner

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

217. Samuel Gardner

I WHO kept the greenhouse,

Lover of trees and flowers,

Oft in life saw this umbrageous elm,

Measuring its generous branches with my eye,

And listened to its rejoicing leaves

Lovingly patting each other

With sweet æolian whispers.

And well they might:

For the roots had grown so wide and deep

That the soil of the hill could not withhold

Aught of its virtue, enriched by rain,

And warmed by the sun;

But yielded it all to the thrifty roots,

Through which it was drawn and whirled to the trunk,

And thence to the branches, and into the leaves,

Wherefrom the breeze took life and sang.

Now I, an under-tenant of the earth, can see

That the branches of a tree

Spread no wider than its roots.

And how shall the soul of a man

Be larger than the life he has lived?