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To Almon Keefer
by [?]


This first book that I ever knew
Was read aloud to me by you–
Friend of my boyhood, therefore take
It back from me, for old times’ sake–
The selfsame “Tales” first read to me,
Under “the old sweet apple tree,”
Ere I myself could read such great
Big words,–but listening all elate,
At your interpreting, until
Brain, heart and soul were all athrill
With wonder, awe, and sheer excess
Of wildest childish happiness.

So take the book again–forget
All else,–long years, lost hopes, regret;
Sighs for the joys we ne’er attain,
Prayers we have lifted all in vain;
Tears for the faces seen no more,
Once as the roses at the door!
Take the enchanted book–And lo,
On grassy swards of long ago,
Sprawl out again, beneath the shade
The breezy old-home orchard made,
The veriest barefoot boy indeed–
And I will listen as you read.