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In Praise Of Johnny Appleseed
by [?]

III. ~The Indians Worship Him, but He hurries on~

Painted kings in the midst of the clearing
Heard him asking his friends the eagles
To guard each planted seed and seedling.
Then he was a god, to the red man’s dreaming;
Then the chiefs brought treasures grotesque and fair,–
Magical trinkets and pipes and guns,
Beads and furs from their medicine-lair,–
Stuck holy feathers in his hair,
Hailed him with austere delight.
The orchard god was their guest through the night.

While the late snow blew from bleak Lake Erie,
Scourging rock and river and reed,
All night long they made great medicine
For Jonathan Chapman,
Johnny Appleseed,
Johnny Appleseed;
And as though his heart were a wind-blown wheat-sheaf,
As though his heart were a new-built nest,
As though their heaven house were his breast,
In swept the snow-birds singing glory.
And I hear his bird heart beat its story,
Hear yet how the ghost of the forest shivers,
Hear yet the cry of the gray, old orchards,
Dim and decaying by the rivers,
And the timid wings of the bird-ghosts beating,
And the ghosts of the tom-toms beating, beating.

[Sidenote: While you read, hear the hoof-beats of deer in the snow.

And see, by their track, bleeding footprints we know.

But he left their wigwams and their love.
By the hour of dawn he was proud and stark,
Kissed the Indian babes with a sigh,
Went forth to live on roots and bark,
Sleep in the trees, while the years howled by–

Calling the catamounts by name,
And buffalo bulls no hand could tame,
Slaying never a living creature,
Joining the birds in every game,
With the gorgeous turkey gobblers mocking,
With the lean-necked eagles boxing and shouting;
Sticking their feathers in his hair,–
Turkey feathers,
Eagle feathers,–
Trading hearts with all beasts and weathers
He swept on, winged and wonder-crested,
Bare-armed, barefooted, and bare-breasted.

[Sidenote: While you read, see conventions of deer go by.

The bucks toss their horns, the fuzzy fawns fly.

The maples, shedding their spinning seeds,
Called to his appleseeds in the ground,
Vast chestnut-trees, with their butterfly nations,
Called to his seeds without a sound.
And the chipmunk turned a “summer-set,”
And the foxes danced the Virginia reel;
Hawthorne and crab-thorn bent, rain-wet,
And dropped their flowers in his night-black hair;
And the soft fawns stopped for his perorations;
And his black eyes shone through the forest-gleam,
And he plunged young hands into new-turned earth,
And prayed dear orchard boughs into birth;
And he ran with the rabbit and slept with the stream.
And he ran with the rabbit and slept with the stream.
And so for us he made great medicine,
And so for us he made great medicine,
In the days of President Washington.

III. ~Johnny Appleseed’s Old Age~

[Sidenote: To be read

like faint


of fawns

long gone

From respectable

pasture, and

park and


And heartbeats


fawns that

are coming


When the

forest, once

more, is the

master of


Long, long after,
When settlers put up beam and rafter,
They asked of the birds: “Who gave this fruit?
Who watched this fence till the seeds took root?
Who gave these boughs?” They asked the sky,
And there was no reply.
But the robin might have said,
“To the farthest West he has followed the sun,
His life and his empire just begun.”