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Title: A Tree with a Bird in it: - a symposium of contemporary american poets on being shown - a pear-tree on which sat a grackle
Author: Widdemer, Margaret, 1884-1978
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Tree with a Bird in it: - a symposium of contemporary american poets on being shown - a pear-tree on which sat a grackle" ***

[Illustration: a tree with a bird in it (front cover)]












By the Collator

A little while since, I had the fortune to live in a house, outside of
whose windows there grew a pear-tree. On the branches of this tree lived
a green bird of indeterminate nature. I do not know what his real name
was, but the name, to quote our great exemplar Lewis Carroll, by which
his name was _called_ was the Grackle. He seemed perfectly willing to
be addressed thus, and accordingly was.

Aside from watching the Pear-Tree and the Grackle, my other principal
occupation that winter was watching the Poetry Society of America now
and then at its monthly meetings. It occurred to me finally to invite
such members of it as cared to come, following many good examples, to
an outdoor symposium under the tree. The result follows.

                                                     Margaret Widdemer.

P.S.--The tree died.


  Foreword: By the Collator                                                 v
  Jessie B. Rittenhouse        _Resignation_                                3
  Edwin Markham                _The Bird with the Woe_                      4
  Witter Bynner                _The Unity of Oneness_                       7
  Amy Lowell                   _Oiseaurie_                                  8
  Edgar Lee Masters            _Imri Swazey_                                9
  Edwin Arlington Robinson     _Rambuncto_                                 10
  Robert Frost                 _The Bird Misunderstood_                    12
  Carl Sandburg                _Chicago Memories_                          13
  Edith M. Thomas              _Frost and Sandburg Tonight_                17
  Charles Hanson Towne         _The Unquiet Singer_                        18
  Sara Teasdale                _At Autumn_                                 20
  Ezra Pound                   _Rainuv_                                    21
  Margaret Widdemer            _The Sighing Tree_                          24
  Richard Le Gallienne         _Ballade of Spring Chickens_                27
  Angela Morgan                _Oh! Bird!_                                 29
  Conrad Aiken                 _The Charnel Bird_                          30
  Mary Carolyn Davies          _A Young Girl to a Young Bird_              34
  Marguerite Wilkinson         _The Rune of the Nude_                      35
  Aline Kilmer                 _Admiration_                                37
  William Rose and
    Stephen Vincent Benet      _The Grackle of Grog_                       38
  Lola Ridge                   _Preenings_                                 42
  Edna St. Vincent Millay      _Tea o' Herbs_                              46
  John V. A. Weaver            _The Weaver Bird_                           50
  David Morton                 _Sonnet: Trees Are Not Ships_               52
  Elinor Wylie                 _The Grackle Is the Loon_                   53
  Leonora Speyer               _A Landscape Gets Personal_                 54
  Corinne Roosevelt Robinson   _The Symposium Leading Nowhere_             57
  Ridgely Torrence             _The Fowl of a Thousand Flights_            59
  Henry van Dyke               _The Roiling of Henry_                      61
  Cale Young Rice              _Pantings_                                  63
  Bliss Carman                 _The Wild_                                  65
  Grace Hazard and
    Hilda Conkling             _They See the Birdie_                       67
  Theodosia Garrison           _A Ballad of the Bird Dance of Pierrette_   69
  William Griffith             _Pierrette Remembers an Engagement_         71
  Edgar Guest                  _Ain't Nature Wonderful!_                   72
  Don Marquis                  _The Meeting of the Columns_                75
  Christopher Morley           _The Mocking-Hoarse-Bird_                   80
  Franklin Pierce Adams        _To a Grackle_                              83
  Thomas Augustin Daly         _Carlo the Gardener_                        84
  Vachel Lindsay               _The Hoboken Grackle and the Hobo_          85
  Percy Mackaye             }
  Josephine Preston Peabody }  _Dies Illa: A Bird of a Masque_             89
  Isabel Fiske Conant       }
  Arthur Guiterman             _A Tree with a Bird in It: Rhymed Review_  101


  Edwin Markham                                                             5
  Witter Bynner                                                             6
  Carl Sandburg                                                            15
  Margaret Widdemer                                                        25
  Conrad Aiken                                                             31
  The Benets                                                               39
  Lola Ridge                                                               43
  Edna St. Vincent Millay                                                  47
  Leonora Speyer                                                           55
  Edgar Guest                                                              73
  Don Marquis and Christopher Morley                                       77
  Vachel Lindsay                                                           87


_Jessie B. Rittenhouse_

    (She steps brightly forward with an air of soprano introduction.)


  I look from out my window,
    Beloved, and I see
  A bird upon a pear bough,
    But what is that to me?

  Because the thought comes icy;
    That bird you never knew--
  It's not your bird or pear tree,
    And what is it to you?

_Edwin Markham_

    (who, though he had to lay a cornerstone, unveil a bust of somebody,
    give two lectures and write encouraging introductions to the works
    of five young poets before catching the three-ten for Staten Island,
    offered his reaction in a benevolent and unhurried manner.)


  Poets to men a curious sight afford;
  Still they will sing, though all around are bored;
  But this wise grackle does a kinder thing;
  Silent he's bored, while all around him sing!



_Witter Bynner_

    (Prefaced by a short baritone talk on Chinese architecture.)


  Celia, have you been to China?
    There upon a mystic tree
  Sits a bird who murmurs Chinese
    Of the Me in Thee.

  'Neath that tree of willow-pattern
    Twice seven thousand scornful go
  Paraphrasers and translators
    Of the long-deceased Li-Po:

  Chinese feelings swift discerning
    Without all this time and fuss
  Let us eat that bird, thus learning
    Of the Him in Us!

_Amy Lowell_

    (Fixing her glasses firmly on the rest of the Poetry Society in a way
    which makes them with difficulty refrain from writhing.)


  I toss my heels up to my head ...
  That was a bird I heard say glunk
  As I walked statelily through my extensive, expensive English country
  In a pink brocade with silver buttons, a purple passementerie cut with
         panniers, a train, and faced with watered silk:

  But it
  Is dead now!
  (The bird)
  Probably putrescent
  And green....

  I scrabble my toes ...

_Edgar Lee Masters_

    (Making a statement which you may take or leave, but convincing you


  I was a shock-headed boy bringing in the laundry;
  Why did I try for that damn bird, anyway?
  I suppose I had been in the habit of aiming for the pears.
  But I chucked a stone, anyhow,
  And it ricocheted and hit my head,
  And as it hadn't any brains inside the stone busted it
  And there I was, dead.
  And dead with me were all the improper things
  I'd got out of the servants about their employers
  Bringing in the laundry;
  But the grackle sings on.
  Sing forever, O grackle!
  I died, knowing lots of things _you_ don't know!

_Edwin Arlington Robinson_

    (He mutters wearily in an undertone.)


  Well, they're quite dead, Rambuncto; thoroughly dead.
  It was a natural thing enough; my eyes
  Stared baffled down the forest-aisles, brown and green,
  Not learning what the marks were. Still, who learns?
  Not I, who stooped and picked the things that day,
  Scarlet and gold and smooth, friend ... smooth enough!
  And she's in a vault now, old Jane Fotheringham,
  My mother-in-law; and my wife's seven aunts,
  And that cursed bird that used to sit and croak
  Upon their pear-tree--they threw scraps to him--
  My wife, too. Lord, that was a curious thing!
  Because--"I don't like mushrooms much," I said,
  And they ate all I picked. And then they died.
  But ... Well, who knows it isn't better that way?
  It's quieter, at least.... Rambuncto--friend--
  Why, you're not going?... Well--it's a stupid year,
  And the world's very useless.... Sorry.... Still
  The dusk intransience that I much prefer
  Leaves place for little hope and less regret.
  I don't suppose he'd care, to stay to dine
  Under the circumstances.... What's life for?

_Robert Frost_

    (Rather nervously, retreating with haste in the wake of Mr. Robinson
    as soon as he had finished.)


  There was a grackle sat on our old pear tree--
  Don't ask me why--I never did really know;
  But he made my wife and me feel, for really the very first time
  We were out in the actual country, hindering things to grow;

  It gave us rather a queer feeling to hear the grackle grackle,
  But when it got to be winter time he got up and went thence
  And now we shall never know, though we watch the tree till April,
  Whether his curious crying ever made song or sense.

_Carl Sandburg_

    (Striking from time to time a few notes on a mouth-organ, with a
    wonderful effect of human brotherhood which does not quite include
    the East.)


  Grackles, trees--
  I been thinkin' 'bout 'em all: I been thinkin' they're all right:
  Nothin' much--Gosh, nothin' much against God, even.
  _God made little apples_, a hobo sang in Kankakee,
  Shattered apples, I picked you up under a tree, red wormy apples, I
         ate you....
  That lets God out.
  There were three green birds on the tree, there were three wailing
         cats against a green dawn....
  'Gene Field sang, "The world is full of a number of things,"
  'Gene Field said, "When they caught me I was living in a tree...."
  'Gene Field said everything in Chicago of the eighties.
  Now he's dead, I say things, say 'em well, too....
  'Gene Field ... back in the lost days, back in the eighties,
  Singing, colyumning ... 'Gene Field ... forgotten ...
  Back in Arkansaw there was a green bird, too,
  I can remember how he sang, back in the lost days, back in the eighties.
  Uncle Yon Swenson under the tree chewing slowly, slowly....
  Memories, memories!
  There are only trees now, no 'Gene, no eighties
  Gray cats, I can feel your fur in my heart ...
  Green grackle, I remember now,
  Back in the lost days, back in the eighties
  The cat ate you.


_Edith M. Thomas_

    (She tells a friend in confidence, after she is safely out of it all.)


  Apple green bird on a wooden bough,
  And the brazen sound of a long, loud row,
  And "Child, take the train, but mind what you do--
  Frost, tonight, and Sandburg too!"

  Then I sally forth, half wild, half cowed,
  Till I come to the surging, impervious crowd,
  The wine-filled, the temperance, the sober, the pied,
  The Poets that cover the countryside!

  The Poets I never would meet till tonight!
  A gleam of their eyes in the fading light,
  And I took them all in--the enormous throng--
  And with one great bound I bolted along.

       *       *       *       *       *

  If the garden had merely held birds and flowers!
  But I hear a voice--they have talked for hours--
  "Frost tonight--" if 'twere merely he!
  Half wild, half cowed, I flee, I flee!

_Charles Hanson Towne_

    (Who rather begrudged the time he used up in going out to the


  He had been singing, but I had not heard his voice;
  He had been bothering the rest with song;
  But I, most comfortably far
  Within the city's stimulating jar
  Feeling for bus-conductors and for flats,
  And shop-girls buying too expensive hats,
  And silver-serviced dinners,
  And various kinds of pleasant urban sinners,
  And riding on the subway and the L,
  Had much beside his song to hear and tell.

  But one day (it was Spring, when poets ride
  Afield to wild poetic festivals)
  I, innocently making calls
  Was snatched by a swift motor toward his tree
  (Alas, but lady poets will do this to thee
  If thou art decorative, witty or a Man)
  And heard him sing, and on the grass did bide.
  But my whole day was sadder for his words,
  And I was thinner
  Because, in spite of my most careful plan
  I missed a very pleasant little dinner....
  In short, unless well-cooked, I don't like Birds.

_Sara Teasdale_

    (Who got Miss Rittenhouse to read it for her.)


  I bend and watch the grackles billing,
  And fight with tears as I float by;
  O be a fowl for my heart's filling!
  O be a bird, yet never fly!

_Ezra Pound_

    (Mailed disdainfully by him from anywhere but America, and read
    prayerfully by a committee from Chicago.)


                        ... so then naturally
  This Count Rainuv I speak of
  (Certainly I did not expect you would ever have heard of him;
  You are American poets, aren't you?
  That's rather awful ... I am the only American poet
  I could ever tolerate ... well, sniff and pass....)
  Therefore ... well, I knew Rainuv.
  (My P. G. course at Penn, you'll remember;
  A little Anglo-Saxon and Basuto,
  But Provencal, mostly. Most don't go in for that....
  You haven't, of course ... What, no Provencal?
  Well, of course, I know
  Rather more than you do. That's my specialty.
  But then--_Omnis Gallia est divisa_--but no matter.
  Not fit, perhaps you'd say, that, to be quoted
  Before ladies.... That's your rather amusing prudishness....)
  Well, this Rainuv, then,
  A person with a squint like a flash
  Of square fishes ... being rather worse than most
  Of the usual _literati_
  Said, being carried off by desire of boasting
  That he knew all the mid-Victorians
  _Et ab lor bos amics:_
  (He thought it was something to boast of.)

  We'll say he said he smoked with Tennyson,
  And--deeper pit--_pax vobiscum_--went to vespers
  With Adelaide Anne Procter; helped Bob Browning elope
  With Elizabeth and her lapdog (said it bit him)
  Said he was the first man Blake told
  All about the angels in a pear-tree at Peckham Rye
  Blake drew them for him, he said; they were grackles, not angels--
  (Blake's not a mid-Victorian, but you don't know better)
  So ... we come, being slightly irritated, to facing him down.
  "... And George Eliot?" we ask lightly.
  "_Roomed with him_," nodded Rainuv confidently,
  "_At college!_"... Ah, _bos amic! bos amic!_
  Rainuv is a king to you....
  Three centuries from now (you dead and messy) men whispering insolently
  (Eeni meeni mini mo...) will boast that their great-grand-uncles
  Were kicked by me in passing....

_Margaret Widdemer_

    (Clutching a non-existent portière with one hand.)


  The folk of the wood called me--
    "There sits a golden bird
  Upon your mother's pear-tree--"
    But I never said a word.

  The Sleepy People whispered--
    "The bird is singing now."
  But I felt not then like leaving bed
    Nor listening beneath the bough.

  But the wronged world beat my portals--
    "Come out or be sore oppressed!"
  So I threw a stone at the grackle
    And my throbbing heart had rest.


_Richard Le Gallienne_

    (Advancing with a dreamy air of there still being a Yellow Book.)


  Spring comes--yet where the dream that glows?
    There only waves upon the lea
  A lonely pear-bough where doth doze
    A bird of green, and merely he:
    Why weave of him our poetry?
  Why of a Grackle need we sing?
    Ah, far another fowl for me--
  I seek Spring Chickens in the Spring.

  Though May returns, and frisking shows
    Her ankles through this white clad tree,
  Alas, old Spring's gone with the rose,
    Gone is all old romance and glee--
    Yet still a joy remains to me--
  Softly our lyric lutes unstring,
    Far from this Grackle we shall flee
  And seek Spring Chickens in the Spring!

  Too soon Youth's _mss_ must close,
    (_Omar_) its rose be pot-pourri;
  What of this bird and all his woes!
    Catulla, I would fly to thee--
    Bright bird of luring lingerie,
  Of bushy bob, of knees aswing,
    This golden task be mine in fee,
  To seek Spring Chickens in the Spring!


  Prince, let us leave this grove, pardie,
    A flapper is a fairer thing:
  Let us fare fast where such there be,
    And seek Spring Chickens in the Spring!

_Angela Morgan_

    (Carefully lifting her Greek robe off the wet grass, and patting her
    fillet with one white glove, recites passionately.)


  I heard a flaming noise that screamed--
  "Man, panting, crushed, must be redeemed!
  Man! All the crowd of him!
  Quiet or loud of him!
  Men! Raging souls of them!
  Heaps of them, shoals of them!
  Hurtling impassioned through fiery-tongued rapture!
  Leaping for glories all avid to capture
  Bounteous æons of star-beating bliss!"
  I heard a voice cry, and I'm sure it said this:
  Though the cook said the noise was a tree and a bird ...
  _But I heard! Gods, I heard!_

_Conrad Aiken_

  (Creeping mysteriously out of the twilight, draped in a complex.)


  Forslin murmurs a melodious impropriety
    Musing on birds and women dead æons ago....
  Was he not, once, this fowl, a gay bird in society?
    Can any one tell? ... After an evening out, who can know?
  Perhaps Cleopatra, lush in her inadequate wrappings,
    Lifted him once to her tatbebs.... Perhaps Helen of Troy
  Found him more live than her Paris ... a bird among dead ones....
    Perhaps Semiramis ... once ... in a pink unnamable joy * * *


  I tie my shoes politely, a salute to this bird in his pear-tree;
    ... What is a pear-tree, after all.... What is a bird?
  What is a shoe, or a Forslin, or even a Senlin?
    What is ... a what? ... Is there any one who has heard? ...
  What is it crawls from the kiss-thickened, Freudian darkness,
    Amorous, catlike ... Ah, can it be a cat?
  I would so much rather it had been a scarlet harlot,
    There is so much more genuine poetry in that....

    (Note by the Collator: It was, in fact, Fluffums, the Angora cat
    belonging to the Jenkinses on the corner; and the disappointment
    was too much for Mr. Aiken, who fainted away, and had to be taken
    back to Boston before completing his poem, which he had intended
    to fill an entire book.)

_Mary Carolyn Davies_

    (Impetuously, with a floppy hat.)


  When one is young, you know, then one can sing
        Of anything:
  One is so young--so pleasurably so--
        How can one know
  If God made little apples, or yet pears,
        Or ... if God cares?

  You are young, maybe, Grackle; that is why
        I want to cry
  Seeing you watch the poems that I say
        To-night, to-day ...

  This little boy-bird seems to nod to me
        With sympathy:
  He is so young: it must be that is why ...
       _As young as I!_

_Marguerite Wilkinson_

    (Advancing with sedate courtesy in a long-sleeved, high-necked
    lecture costume.)


  I will set my slim strong soul on this tree with no leaves upon it,
    I will lift up my undressed dreams to the nude and ethical sky:
  This bird has his feathers upon him: he shall not have even a sonnet:
    Until he is stripped of his last pin-plume I will sing of my mate
        and I!

  My ancestors rise from their graves to be shocked at my soul's wild
    (They were strong, they were righteous, my ancestors, but they
        always kept on their clothes)
    My mate is the best of all mates alive: his voice is a raptured
  He chants "Come Down!" but it cannot come, either for him or those!

  My ancestors pound from their ouija-board: my mate leaps in swift indignation:
    I must tell the world of their wonders, but I must be strong and free--
  Though all sires and all mates cry out in a runic incantation,
    My soul shall be stripped and buttonless--it shall dwell in a naked tree!

_Aline Kilmer_

    (With a certain aloofness.)


  Kenton's arrogant eyes watch the Widdemer pear-tree,
  His thistle-down-footed sister puts out her tongue at him....
  Kenton, what do you see? That yonder is only a bare tree;
  Come, carry Deborah home; she is gossamer-light and slim.

  "Aw, mother, but I don't want to!" Kenton replies with devotion,
  "I've gathered you stones for the bird; come on, don't you want to throw 'em?"
  Ah, Kenton, Kenton, my child, who but you would have such an emotion?
  But in spite of it I admire you, as you'll see when you read this poem.

_The Benet Brothers_

    (They sing arm in arm, Stephen Vincent having rather more to do with
    the verse and William Rose with the chorus. Their sister Laura is
    too busy looking for a fairy under the tree to add to the family


  It was old Yale College
    Made me what I am--
  You oughto heard my mother
    When I first said damn!
  I put a pin in sister's chair,
    She jumped sky-high ...
  I don't know what'll happen
    When I come to die!

  _But oh, the stars burst wild in a glorious crimson whangle,_
  _There was foam on the beer mile-deep, mile-high, and the pickles were
        piled like seas,_
  _Noeara's hair was a flapper's bob that turned to a ten-mile tangle,_
  _And the forests were crowded with unicorns, and gold elephants
        charged up trees!_


  Forceps in the dentist's chair,
    Razors in the lather ...
  Lord, the black experience
    I've had time to gather ...
  But I've thought of one thing
    That may pull me through--
  I'm a reg'lar devil
    But the Devil was, too!

  _There were thousands of trees with knotholed knees that kicked in
        a league-long rapture,_
    _Birds green as a seasick emerald in a million-mile shrieking row--_
  _It was sixty dollars or sixty days when the cop had made his
    _But God! the bun was a gorgeous one, and the Faculty did not know!_

_Lola Ridge_

    (Who apparently did not care for the suburbs.)


  I preen myself....
  I ...
  Always do ...
  My ego expanding encompasses ...
  Everything, naturally....

  This bird preens himself ...
  It is our only likeness....

  Ah, God, I want a Ghetto
  And a Freud and an alley and some Immigrants calling names ...
  God, you know
  How awful it is....
  Here are trees and birds and clouds
  And picturesquely neat children across the way on the grass
  Not doing anything
  Improper ...
  (Poor little fools, I mustn't blame them for that
  Perhaps they never
  Knew How....)


  But oh, God, take me to the nearest trolley line!
  This is a country landscape--
  I can't stand it!

  God, take me away--
  There is no Sex here
  And no Smell!

_Edna St. Vincent Millay_

    (Recites in a flippant voice which occasionally chokes up with
    irrepressible emotion, and clenching her hands tensely as she
    notices that the Grackle has hopped twice.)


  O I have brought in now
  A packet o' brown senna
    And an iron pot;
  In my scarlet gown
    I make all hot.

  And other men and girls
    Write like me
  Setting herbs a-plenty
    In their poetry
  (_Bergamot for hair-oil,_
    _Bergamot for tea!_)

  And they may do ill now
  Or they may do well,
  (Little should I care now
  What they have to sell--)
  But what bergamot and rue are
    None of them can tell.


  All above my bitter tea
    I have set a lid
  (As my bitter heart
    By its red gown hid)
  They write of bergamot
    Because I did....

  (From its padded hangers
    They've snatched my red gown,
  Men as well as girls
    And gone down town,
  Flaunting my vocabulary,
    Every verb and noun!)

  And the grackle moans
    High above the pot,
  He is sick with herbs ...
    _And am I not,_
  _Who have brought in_

_John V. A. Weaver_

    (With a strong note of infant brutality.)


  Gosh, kid! that bird a-cheepin' in the tree
  All green an' cocky--why, it might be me
  Singin' to you.... Wisht I was just a bird
  Bringin' you worms--aw, you know, things I've heard
  'Bout me--an' flowers, maybe.... Like as not
  Somebody'd get me with an old slingshot
  An' I'd be dead.... Gee, it'd break you up!
  Nothin' would be the same to you, I bet,
  Knowin' my grave was out there in the wet
  And we two couldn't pet no more.... Say, kid,
  It makes me weep, same as it always did,
  To think how bad you'd feel....

                                I got a thought,
  An awful funny one I sorta caught--
  Nobody never thought that way, I guess--
  When I get blue, an' things is in a mess
  I map out all my funeral, the hearses
  An' nineteen carriages, an' folks with verses
  Sayin' how great I was, an' all like that,
  An' wreaths, an' girls with crapes around their hat
  Tellin' the world how bad their hearts was broke,
  An' you, just smashed to think I had to croak....

  I can't stand that bird, somehow--makes me cry....
  _The world'll be darn sorry when I die!_

_David Morton_

    (Who, being very polite, only thought it.)


  There is no magic in a living tree,
  And, if they be not sea-gulls, none in birds:
  My soul is seasick, and its only words
  Murmur desire for things more like a sea.
  In this dry landscape here there seems to be
  No water, merely persons in large herds,
  Who, by their long remarks, their arid girds,
  Come from the Poetry Society.

  What could be drier, where all things are dry?
  What boots this bird, this pear-tree spreading wide?
  Oh, make this bird they all discuss to pie,
  Hew down this tree and shape its planks to ships,
  Send them to sea with these folk nailed inside,
  That I may have great sonnets on my lips!

_Elinor Wylie_

    (With an air of admitting the tragic and all-important fact.)


  Never believe this bird connotes
    Jade whorls of carven commonness:
  Nor as from ordinary throats
    Slides his sharp song in ice-strung stress.

  He is the cold and scornful Loon,
    Who, hoping that the sun shall fail,
  Steeps in the silver of the moon
    His burnished claws, his chiseled tail.

_Leonora Speyer_

    (Speaking, notwithstanding, with unshaken poise.)


  I cannot bear that Bird

  He is green
  With envy of My Songs:
  "_Cheep! Cheep!_"

  This Tree
  Has a furtive look
  And the Brook
  Says, "Oh ... Splash...."

  And the Grass ... the terrible Grass ...
  It waves at me....
  It is too flirtatious!

  Let us leave swiftly ...

  _I fear this Landscape!_
  _It would vamp me!_


_Corinne Roosevelt Robinson_

    (Who, having engagements to speak at ten unveilings, and nine public
    schools and twelve other symposiums, stayed away, but sent this
    handsome tribute by wire.)


  I sing of the joy of the Small Paths
    The paths that lead nowhere at all,
  (Though I never have gone on them nevertheless
    They are admirable, and so small!)
  I go out at midnight in motors
    But, being a Roosevelt, I drive
  Straight ahead on the neatly paved highway,
    For I wish with much speed to arrive.

  Oh, the joy and effulgence of Small Paths
    Surrounded with Birds and with Trees
  I would love to go down on a Small Path
    And sit in communion with these!
  Oh, Grackle, I yearn to be with you,
    For poetic communion I yearn
  But I have ten engagements to speak in the suburbs
    And alas, I've no time to return.

  _Oh alas, the undone moments,_
    _Oh, the myriad hours bereft_
  _Trying to be twenty people_
    _And to do things right and left._
  _I would sit down by a Small Path_
    _And would make me a Large Rhyme_
  _I should love to find my soul there_
    _But I haven't got the time!_

_Ridgely Torrence_

    (Who felt that the Bird did not sufficiently uphold Art.)


  Grackle, Grackle on your tree,
    There's something wrong to-day,
  In the moonlight, in the quiet evening,
    You will rise and croak and fly away;
  Oh, you have sat and listened till you're wild for flight
    (And that's all right)
  But you have never criticised a single song
    (And that's all wrong)
  Lo, would you add despair unto despair?
  Do you not care
  That all these lesser children of the Muse
  Shall sing to you exactly as they choose?

  You are ungrateful, Fowl. I wrote a poem,
  Once, in the middle of August, intending to show 'em
  That you should not
  Be shot:
  What saw I then, what heard?
  Multitudes--multitudes, under the tree they stirred,
  And with too many a broken note and wheeze
  They sang what each did please....

  And Thou,
  O bird of emeraldine beak and brow,
  Thou sawest it all, and did not even cackle,

_Henry van Dyke_

    (Who, although for different reasons, did not care for the Grackle


(A Song of the Grating Outdoors)

  Bird, thou art not a Veery,
    Nor yet a Yellowthroat,
  Ne'erless, I knew thy gentle song,
    Long, long e'er I could vote;
  Thou art not a Blue Flower,
    Nor e'en a real Blue Bird;
  Yet there's a moral high and pure
    In all thy likings heard:
      _Go on and ne'er look back!_"

  The noble tow'rs of Princeton
    Hear high thy pensive trill,
  And eke my ear has heard thee
    The while I fished the rill;
  Thy note rings out at daybreak
    Before I rise to toil;
  Thou counselest Persistence;
    Thy song no stone can spoil;
    _Go on and ne'er look back!_"

  Yet, Bird, there is a limit
    To all I've undergone;
  From five o'clock till five o'clock
    Thou'st chanted o'er my lawn;
  I cannot get my work done ...
    I give thee, Bird, advice;
  If thou wouldst save thy skin alive,
    Let me not warn thee twice,
    _Go on and ne'er look back!_"

_Cale Young Rice_

    (Who came out rather tired from trying to choose a new suit, and
    could not get it off his mind.)


  Pantings, Pantings, Pantings!
    Gents' immanent furnishings!
  On a mystic tide I ride, I ride,
    Of the clothes of a million springs!
  I take the train for the suburbs
    Or I sweep from Pole to Pole,
  But where is the window that holds them not,
    Gents' furnishings of my soul!

  Pantings, Pantings, Pantings!
    Shirtings and coatings too!
  How can I think of mere birds, nor blink
    In the Cosmic Hullaballoo?
  The hot world throbs with Immenseness,
    The Voidness plunks in the Void,
  And all of it doubtless has something to do
    With Employer and Unemployed!

  Pantings! Pantings! Pantings!
    Trousers through all the town!
  And the tailors' dummies with iron for tummies
    Smirk in their blue and brown;
  I float in a slithering simoon
    Of fevered and surging tints,
  And my ears are dulled with the mighty throb
    Of the Male Best Dressers' Hints:

  _Pantings! Pantings! Pantings!_
    _My wardrobe, they send it fleet...._
  _Ah, the Is and the Was and the Never Does...._
    _And the Cosmos at last complete!_

_Bliss Carman_

    (Who, incidentally, happened to be correct.)


  Ho, Spring calls clear a message....
    The Grackle is not green....
  The Mighty Mother Nature
    She knows just what I mean.

  The lilac and the willow
    The grass and violet
  They are my wild companions
    Where I was raised a pet.

  The secrets of great nature
    From childhood I have heard;
  Oh, I can tell a wild flower
    Swiftly from a wild bird;

  And Gwendolen and Marna
    And Myrtle (dead all three ...
  Among my wildwood sweethearts
    Was much mortality).

  If they my loves returning
    Might gather 'neath these boughs
  (Oh, they would sniff at pear-trees
    Who loved the Northern Sloughs).

  Their wild eternal whisper
    Would back me up, I ween:
  "This bird is not a Grackle:
    A Grackle is not green."

_Grace Hazard and Hilda Conkling_


(Mrs. Conkling points maternally.)

    Oh, Hilda! see the little Bird!
    If you will watch, upon my word
    He will come out; a Veery[1] he
    As like an Oboe as can be:
    He shall be wingèd, with a tail,
    Mayhap a Beak him shall not fail!
    And I will tell him, "Birdie, oh,
    This is my Hilda, you must know--
    And oh, what joy, if you but knew--
    She shall make poetry on you!"

(The Birdie obliges, whereupon Hilda recites obediently, while her
mother, concealing herself completely behind the bird, takes

    Oh, my lovely Mother,
    That is a Bird:
    Sitting on a Tree.
    I am a Little Girl
    Standing on the Ground.
    I see the Bird,
    The Bird sees me.

    _Color of Grass!_

    _I love my Mother_
       _More than I do You!_

[Footnote 1: Note by the Collator: I do not pretend to explain the
veery-complex of American poets. They all seemed possessed to rub it
into the poor bird that he wasn't one.]

_Theodosia Garrison_

    (Who began cheerfully, but reduced her audience to tears, which she
    surveyed with complacence, by the third line.)


_Pierrette's mother speaks:_

  "Sure is it Pierrette yez are, Pierrette and no other?
    (Och, Pierrette, me heart is broke that ye shud be that same--)
  Pertendin' to be Frinch, an' me yer poor ould Irish mother
    That named ye Bridget fer yer aunt, a dacent Dublin name!
  Ye that was a pious girrl, decked out in ruffled collars,
    With yer hair that docked an' frizzed--if Father Pat shud see!
  Dancin' on a piece o' grass all puddle-holes an' hollers,
    Amusin' these quare folk that's called a Pote-Society!"

        _But it was Bridget Sullivan,_
          _Her locks flour-sprent,_
        _That danced beneath the flowering tree_
          _Leaping as she went._

  "If there's folk to stare at ye ye'll dance for all creation
    (Since ye went to settlements 'tis little else I've heard),
  Letting yer good wages go to chat of 'inspiration,'
    Flappin' up an' down an' makin' out yez are a burrd!
  Sure if ye got cash fer it 'tis little I'd be sayin'
    (Och, Pierrette, stenographin' 'tis better wage ye'll get,)
  Sorra wan these long-haired folk has spoke till ye o' payin',
    Talkin' of yer art, an' ye a leppin' in the wet!"

        _But it was Bridget Sullivan,_
          _Her head down-bent,_
        _Went back on the three-thirteen,_
          _Coughing as she went._

_William Griffith_

    (Who felt for her.)


  Pierrette has gone--but it was not
    Exactly that she lied;
  She said she had to catch a train;
    "I have a date," she cried.

  To keep a sudden rendezvous
    It came into her mind
  As quite the quickest way to flee
    From parties of this kind;

  She went most softly and most soon,
    But still she made a stir,
  For, going, she took all the men
    To town along with her.

_Edgar Guest_

    (Who has an air of absolute belief in the True, the Optimistic, and
    the Checkbook. He seems yet a little ill at ease among the others,
    and to be looking about restlessly for Ella Wheeler Wilcox.)


  How dear to me are home and wife,
    The dear old Tree I used to Love,
  The Pear it shed on starting life
    And God's Outdoors so bright above!

  For Virtue gets a high reward,
    Noble is all good Scenery,
  So I will root for Virtue hard,
    For God, for Nature, and for Me!


_Don Marquis_

    (Who, it appears, refers to departments which he and certain of his
    friends run in New York papers. He swings a theoretical barrel of
    hootch above his head, and chants:)


  Chris and Frank and I
    Each had a column;
  Chris and I were plump and gay,
  But not so F.P.A.:
    F.P.A. was solemn--
    Not so his Column;
  That was full of wit,
    As good as My Column
  Nearly every bit!
  We sat on each an office chair
    And all snapped our scissors;
  Their things were pretty fair
    But all of mine were Whizzers!

  Frank wrote of Cyril,
    An ungrammatic sinner,
  But I wrote of Drink
    And Chris wrote of Dinner;
    And Frank kept getting thinner
  And we kept getting plump--
  Frank sat like a Bump
    Translating from the Latin,
  Chris wrote of Happy Homes
  I wrote of Alcoholic Foams,
    And we still seemed to fatten;
  Frank wrote of Swell Parties where he had been,
  I wrote of Whisky-sours, and Chris wrote of Gin!
  But we both got fatter,
  So the parties didn't matter,
  Though F.P.A. he published each as soon as he'd been at her....

  F.P.A. went calling
    And sang about it sorely ...
  "_Pass around the shandygaff," says brave old Morley!_
  F.P.A. played tennis
    And told the World he did....
  _I bought a stein of beer and tipped up the lid!_
  Frank wrote up all his evenings out till we began to cry,
  _But we drowned our envy in a long cool Rye!_

  And then we got an invitation, Frank and Chris and me,
  To come and say a poem on a Grackle in a Tree:


  But Chris and I'd had twenty ryes, and we began to cackle--
  "Oh, see the ninety pretty birds, and every one a Grackle!
  A Grackle with a Hackle,
    A ticklish one to tackle
  A tacklish one to tickle ... To ticker ... To licker...."
  And we both began to giggle
    And woggle, and wiggle,
  And we giggled and we gurgled
    And we gargled and were gay ...
  _For we'd had an invitation, just the same as F.P.A.!_

_Christopher Morley_

    (Acting, in spite of himself, as if the Bird were his long-lost
    brother, and locating the Grackle, for poetic purposes, in his own


  Good fowl, though I would speak to thee
  With wonted geniality,
  And Oxford charm in my address,
  It's not quite easy, I confess:
  _Suaviter in modo's_ hard
  When poets trample one's front yard,
  And this is such an enormous crew
  That you've got trailing after you!
  I'd washed my youngest child but four,
  Put the milk-bottles out the door,
  Paid my wife's hat-bill with no sigh
  (Ah, happy wife! Ah, happy I!)
  Tossed down (see essays) then my pen
  To be a private citizen,
  Written about that in the Post,
  When lo, upon the lawn a host
  Of Poets, sprung upon my sight
  Each eager for a Poem to write!

  To a less placid bard you'd be
  A flat domestic tragedy,--
  Bird--grackle--nay, I'd scarcely call
  You bird--a mere egg you, that's all--
  Only a bad egg has the nerve
  To poach (a pun!) on my preserve!
  To P.Q.S. and X.Y.D.
  (Both columnists whom you should see)
  And L.M.N (a man who never
  Columns a word that isn't clever,)
  And B.C.D. (who scintillates
  Much more than most who get his rates)
  A thing like this would be a trial....
  It is to me, there's no denial.

  Why, Bird, if they would sing of you,
  Or Sin, or Broken Hearts, or Rue,
  Or what Young Devils they all are,
  Or Scarlet Dames, or the First Star,
  Or South-Sea-Jazz-Hounds sorrowing,
  It would be quite another thing:
  But, Bird, here they come mousing round
  On my suburban, sacred ground,
  And see my happiness--it's flat,
  You wretched Bird, they'll sing of that!
  They'll hymn my Happy Hearth, and later
  The joys of my Refrigerator,
  Burst into song about the points
  Of Babies, Married Peace, Hot Joints,
  The Jimmy-Pipe I often carol,
  My Commutation, my Rain-Barrel,
  And each Uncontroverted Fact
  With which my poetry is packed ...
  In short, base Bird, they'll sing like me,
  _And then, where will my living be?_

_Franklin P. Adams_

    (Coldly ignoring the roistering of his friends, addresses the Grackle
    with bitterness:)


(Horace, Ode XVIXXV, p. 23)

  Bird, if you think I do not care
    To gaze upon your feathered form
  Rather than converse with some fair
    Or make my brow with tennis warm;

  If you should think I'd liefer far
    Hear your sweet song than fast be driving
  Within my costly motor car
    And in my handsome home arriving,

  If you should think I would be gone
    Far sooner than you might expect
  From off this uncolumnar lawn;
    Bird, you'd be utterly correct!

_Tom Daly_

    (Showing the Italian's love of the Beautiful, which he makes his own
    more than the Anglo-Saxon dreams of doing.)


  De poets dey tinka dey gotta da tree,
  Dey gotta da arta, da birda--but me,
  I lova da arta, I lova da flower,
  (Ah, _bella fioretta_!) I waita da hour:
  I mowa da grass, I rake uppa da leaf--
  I brava young Carlo--Maria! fine t'ief!
  I waita
  Till later.

  Da poets go homa, go finda da sup',
  I creep by dis tree and I digga her up,
  (Da Grackla, da blossom, da tree-a I love,
  _Per Dio!_ and da art!) So I giva da shove,
  I catcha da birda, I getta da tree,
  I taka to Rosa my wife, and den she--
  She gotta
  In potta!

_Vachel Lindsay_

    (Bounding on toward the end of the proceedings with a bundle over
    his shoulder, and making the rest join in at the high spots.)


(An Explanation)

  As I went marching, torn-socked, free,                        [_Steadily_]
  With my red heart marching all agog in front of me
  And my throbbing heels
  And my throbbing feet
  Making an impression on the Hoboken street                 [_With energy_]
  Then I saw a pear-tree, a fowl, a bird,
  And the worst sort of noise an Illinoiser ever heard!    [_With surprise_]
  _All_ of the Poetry Society but _me_!
  All a-cackle, addressed it as a grackle                     [_Chatteringly
  Showed me its hackle (that proved it was a fly)             like parrots_]
  Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,                         [_Cooingly, yet
  Gosh, what a packed street!                              with impatience_]
  The Secretary, _President_ and TREASURER went by!
  "That's not a grackle," said I to all of him,
  Seething with their poetry, iron-tongued, grim,
  "_That's an English sparrow on that limb!_"
  And they all went home
  No more to roam.
  And I watched their unmade poetry raise up like foam     [_Intemperately_]
  And I took my bandanna again on my stick             [_With calm majesty_]
  And I walked to the grocery and took my pick
  And I bought crackers, canned shrimps, corn,            [_With domesticity
  Codfish like flakes of snow at morn,                      for the moment_]
  Buns for breakfast and a fountain-pen
  Laid down change and marched out again
  And I walked through Hoboken, torn-socked, free,
  _With my red heart galumphing all agog in front of me!_



  Being a Collaboration by Percy Mackaye, Isabel
  Fiske Conant and Josephine Preston Peabody.


THE GRACKLE (who does not appear at all)













TIME: _Next year._ PLACE: _Everywhere._ SCENE: _A level stretch of

THE SPIRIT OF THE REJECTION SLIP (_Entering despairingly_)

  Alas--in vain! Yet I have barred the way
  As best I might, that this great horror fall
  Not on the world. _Returned with many thanks_
  _And not because of lack of merit,_ I
  Have said to twenty million poets ... nay ...
  Profane it not, that word ... to twenty million
  Persons who wasted stamps and typewriting
  And midnight oil, to add unto the world
  More Bunk.... In vain--in vain!
  (_She sinks down sobbing._)

(_From right and left of stage enter Semi-Choruses Magazine Editors and
Book Publishers, tearing their hair rhythmically._)


  We have mailed their poems back
  To every man and woman-jack
  Who weigh the postman down
  From country and from town;
  But all in vain, in vain,
  They mail them in again!


  Though we've sent them flying,
  We are nearly dying,
  From the books of poetry
  Sent by people unto we;
  In vain we keep them off our shelves,
  They go and publish them themselves!


  All, bravely have ye toiled, my masters, aye,
  And I've toiled with you.... All in vain, in vain--

(_Enter, with a proud consciousness of duty well done, the Chorus of
Correspondence, Kindergarten, Grammar, High-School and College Classes
for Writing Verse. They sing Joyously_)

  The Day has come that we adore,
  The Day we've all been working for,
  Now babies in their bassinets
  And military school cadets,
  And chambermaids in each hotel
  And folks in slums who cannot spell,
  Professors, butchers, clergymen,
  And every one, have grabbed a pen:
  The Day has come--tra la, tra lee--
  _Everybody_ writes poetry!

(_They do a Symbolic Dance with Typewriters, during which enters the
Chorus of Young Men who Run Poetry Magazines. These put on horn-rimmed
spectacles and chant earnestly as follows_)


  We're very careful what we put in;
  This magazine is of highest grade;
  If it doesn't appeal to our personal taste
  There's no use sending it, we're afraid;
  We don't like Shelley, we don't like Keats,
  We don't like poets who're tactlessly dead;
  If you write like us there will be no fuss--
  That's the best of verse, when the last word's said.... (_Bursting
        irrepressibly into youthful enthusiasm, and dashing their horn
        spectacles to the ground_)

  Yale! Yale! Yale!
  Our Poetry!
  Fine Poetry!
  Nobody Else's Poetry!
  Raw! Raw! Raw! Raw!

(_Enter, modestly, the Person Responsible for the Poetic Renaissance in
America. There are four of him--or her, as the case may be--Miss Monroe,
Miss Rittenhouse, Mrs. Stork, Mr. Braithwaite. The Person stands in a
row and recites in unison:_)

  I've made Poetry
    What it is today;
  Or ... at least ...
    That's what people say:
  Earnest-minded effort
    Never can be hid;
  The Others think They did it--


  You _did_? (_They rush out._)

PERSON RESPONSIBLE (_still modestly_)

  Well, so they say--
  But I have to go away.
  I'm due at a lecture
  I give at three today.

(_The Person goes out in single file, looking at its watch. As it does so,
there enters a pale and dishevelled girl in Greek robes. It is the Muse._)


  In Mount Olympus we have heard a noise and crying
  As swine that in deep agony are dying,
  A voice of tom-cats wailing,
  A never failing
  Thud as of rolling logs:
  A chattering like frogs,
  And all this noise, unceasing, thunderous,
  Making a horrible fuss,
  Cries out upon my name.
  Oh, what am I, the Muse and giver of Fame,
  So to be mocked and humbled by this use?
  I--I, the Muse!

(_Enter Spirit of Modern Poetry, a lady with bobbed hair, clad lightly in
horn glasses and a sex-complex._)


  You're behind the times; quite narrow,
  Don't you want
  Culture for the masses?


  No; I am Greek; we never did.
  Besides, it _isn't_ culture.

        by two on their way to a lecture, pause._)

  Oh, how narrow! Oh, how shocking!
  She's no Muse! She must be mocking!

MUSE (_sternly, having lost her temper by this time_)

  I am a goddess. Trifle not with me.

ELDERLY LADIES (_with resolute tolerance_)

  She _looks_ like a pupil of Isadora Duncan,
  But she says she's a goddess; what folly we'd be sunk in
  To believe a word she says; she needs broad'ning, we conjecture--
  My dear, come with us to Miss Rittenhouse's lecture!

MUSE (_lifting her arms angrily_)

  Até, my sister!

ATÉ, (_behind the scenes_) I come!

(_Enter from one side, Band of Poets--very large--with lyres and wreaths
put on over their regular clothes. From the other side, a chorus of
Poetry Critics. At their end steals Até, Goddess of Discord, disguised
as a Critic by means of horn glasses and a Cane. The Poets do not see
her--or anything but themselves, indeed. They sing obliviously_)

  My maiden aunt in Keokuk
    She writes free verse like anything;
  My great-grandmother is in luck,
    She's sold her three-piece work on Spring;
  My mother does Poetic Plays,
    My dad does rhymes while signing checks,
  And my flapper sister--we wouldn't have missed her--
    She's writing an epic on Sin and Sex--
  The world's as perfect as it can be,
  Everybody writes Poetry!

CHORUS OF CRITICS, (_chanting yet more loudly:_)

  The world's not _quite_ as perfect as it yet might be,
  Excepting for our brother-critics' poetry!

(_The Spirit of Discord now creeps softly out from among the Critics._)


  Rash poets, think what you would do--
  There's nobody left you can read it to!

POETS (_aghast_)

  We never thought of that!
  An audience, 'tis flat,
  Is our most pressing need,
  To listen to our screed;

(_Each turns to his neighbor_)

  Base scribbler, get thee hence
  Or be my audience!


  We want to write ourselves! We'll not!


  But what _you_ write is merely rot!
  Hush up and let _me_ read
  My great, eternal screed!

ATÉ (_stealthily_) Ha, ha!

(_Each Poet now draws a Fountain Pen with a bayonet attached, and kills
the Poet next him, dying himself immediately from the wound of the Poet
on the other side. They fall in neat windrows. There are no Poets left.
Meanwhile the Non-Poetry-Writing Public, two in number, who have been
shooting crap in a corner, rise up at the sound of the fall, take three
paces to the front, and speak:_)

What's the use o' poetry, anyhow? _I_ always say, 'if you wanta say
anything you can say it a lot easier in prose.' _I_ never wrote no
poetry, and I get along fine in the hardware business.


  Ah, a new Gospel!
  Let us write Reviews
  About it!

THE SPIRIT OF THE REJECTION SLIP (_entering, and addressing the
        Editors and Publishers who follow her._)

  Now I shall pass from you. My task comes to a close.
  I wing my hallowed way
  To the Fool-Killer's Paradise, and there for aye Repose.


  Nay, our great helper, nay!
  Leave us not yet, our only comforter!
  We'll need thee still;
  Folks who write poetry
  There's naught on earth can kill!

(_During this the_ CULTURE-HOUNDS, CRITICS, _etc., have clustered round
the_ NON-POETRY-WRITING PUBLIC, _whispering, urging, and pushing. It rises
and scratches its head in a flattered way, and finally says:_)

  B'gosh, I do believe,
  Now that you speak of it, I could do just as good
  As any of those there fool dead fellers could!

(_The late Non-Poetry-Writing Public are both immediately invested with
lyres, and wreaths which they put on over their derby hats._)

SEMI-CHORUS OF EDITORS (to Spirit of Rejection Slip)

  You see? Too late!


  Who shall escape o'ermastering tragic fate?

(_They go off and sob in two rows in the corners, while the rest of the
Masque, except_ ATÉ, _who looks at them as if she weren't through yet,
and the_ MUSE, _form up to do a dance symbolic of One Being Born Every
Minute. They sing:_)

  The Day has come that we adore,
  The Day we've all been working for;
  The Day has come, tra la, tra lee!
  _Everybody_ writes Poetry!

THE MUSE (_unnoticed in the background_)


_Arthur Guiterman_

    (He recites with appropriate gestures.)


  It seems that Margaret Widdemer
    Possessed a Tree with a Bird in it,
  And being human, prone to err,
    Thought 'twould be pleasant to begin it,

  Or christen it, as one might say,
    By asking poets closely herded
  To come around and spend the day
    And sing of what the Tree and Bird did.

  (Poor girl! When next she takes her pen
    Some bromide critic's sure to say,
  "Don't dare do serious work again--
    This stuff is your true métier!")

  No sooner said than done; the bards
    Rush out in quantities surprising,
  And, overflowing four front yards
    They carol till the moon is rising;

  With ardor, or, as some say, "pash,"
    In song kind or satirical,
  Asking, apparently, no cash,
    They make their offerings lyrical.

  I'd be the first a spear to break
    For Poesy; but this to tackle ...
  It seems a lot of fuss to make
    About one Tree and one small Grackle.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Tree with a Bird in it: - a symposium of contemporary american poets on being shown - a pear-tree on which sat a grackle" ***

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ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.