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I  The Plum Tree

James Reaney


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The Upper Canadian

I wish I had been born beside a river
Instead of this round pond
Where the geese white as pillows float
In continual circles
And never get out.

Sometime I wish that I
Hadn’t been born in this dull township
Where fashion, thought and wit
Never penetrate,
Unless the odd quotation from Handy Andy
Is really what I demand,
What I want.

The river, the railroad,
And His Majesty’s Highways
Number Seven and Eight
Go through town
And never are the same again.
But this pond and I
Go through and become
Nothing different.
Now if I went away
And left this little lake,
If I struck out for the railroad and the river,
I might lose my way.
I would have to win a scholarship
Or build a Punch and Judy Show.
I’d better not,
I’d better stay.

And watch the darning-needle flies
Fly and glitter in the shining wind
Of summer by this pond.
At night I’ll read
The Collected Works of William Shakespeare
By an empty stove
And think at least there’s this
Although I’ll never see it acted.
I’ll hear the rain outside
And, if it’s August,
A cricket’s sharp chirp in the pantry.
I won’t go away
Unless it rains and rains
Making the pond so large
That it joins the river,
But it never will.
I shall always sit here in this hovel
Weeping perhaps over an old Victorian novel
And hear the dingy interwinding tunes
Of country rain and wind
And lame fires and damp wood.
Especially shall I hear that starved cricket
My mind, that thinks a railway ticket
Could save it from its enclosed, cramped quality.
That mind where thoughts float round
As geese do round a pond
And never get out.