Underneath an apple-tree
Sat a dame of comely seeming,
With her work upon her knee,
And her great eyes idly dreaming.
O'er the harvest-acres bright,
Came her husband's din of reaping;
Near to her, an infant wight
Through the tangled grass was creeping.
On the branches long and high,
And the great green apples growing,
Rested she her wandering eye,
With a retrospective knowing.
"This," she said, "the shelter is,
Where, when gay and raven-headed,
I consented to be his,
And our willing hearts were wedded.
"Laughing words and peals of mirth,
Long are changed to grave endeavor;
Sorrow's winds have swept to earth
Many a blossomed hope forever.
Thunder-heads have hovered o'er--
Storms my path have chilled and shaded;
Of the bloom my gay youth bore,
Some has fruited--more has faded."
Quickly, and amid her sighs,
Through the grass her baby wrestled,
Smiled on her its father's eyes,
And unto her bosom nestled.
And with sudden, joyous glee,
Half the wife's and half the mother's,
"Still the best is left," said she:
"I have learned to live for others."
Apples Growing. by Will Carleton