Beaver Plants a Tree

Leave it to Beaver, Beaver Plants a Tree                        

     In my effort to curb my intake of political news, I caught a “Leave it to Beaver” re-run. It was titled “Beaver’s Tree” and first aired November 11, 1959 and tells of Beaver remembering a tree that his father gave him for his birthday due to his class reciting a poem that begins “what does he plant who plants a tree?”  The dramatic twist is that the Cleavers had moved from their original house, leaving the tree behind. After indirectly asking his mother’s advice (e.g. “if you put a million dollars in the bank, and the bank gets a new owner, don’t you still have the million dollars?”), Beaver returns to his old house and digs up the tree and takes it to his new home.

            In my youth, we only saw “Leave it to Beaver” when me or my siblings were sick in bed, but we planted lots of trees. I’ve left trees behind in at least four states so I was curious about the poem used in Beaver’s grade school class. Thanks to the internet, I learned the poem (“The Heart of a Tree” ) was by Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855-1896), whom I was unfamiliar. It is a comforting, sentimental three verses.

The Heart of the Tree

by Henry Cuyler Bunner

What does he plant who plants a tree?

   He plants a friend of sun and sky;

He plants the flag of breezes free;

   The shaft of beauty, towering high;

   He plants a home to heaven anigh;

      For song and mother-croon of bird

      In hushed and happy twilight heard—

The treble of heaven’s harmony—

These things he plants who plants a tree.

 

What does he plant who plants a tree?

   He plants cool shade and tender rain,

And seed and bud of days to be,

   And years that fade and flush again;

      He plants the glory of the plain;

      He plants the forest’s heritage;

      The harvest of a coming age;

The joy that unborn eyes shall see—

These things he plants who plants a tree.

 

What does he plant who plants a tree?

   He plants, in sap and leaf and wood,

In love of home and loyalty

   And far-cast thought of civic good—

   His blessings on the neighborhood,

      Who in the hollow of His hand

      Holds all the growth of all our land—

A nation’s growth from sea to sea

Stirs in his heart who plants a tree.

https://poets.org/poetsorg/poem/heart-tree (in the public domain)

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