Too Slightly Timbered

Pine forests. The red men knew them:
 Larches and Tamarack across the northern lakes,
  White Pine, Red Cedar Pine, Spruce and Balsam,
   Tall Douglas Fir and the majestic Norway,
    One wooded fastness from Superior to the frontier.

Pine-locked waterways interlarded with Birch:
 Blue Birch, White, Yellow, Canoe and River Birch,
  Hornbeam, Ironwood and Alder shrub,
   Red, White and Speckled, crowded the moist marges
    Of ten thousand lakes, chain on chain.

Along the St. Croix and west, the American Elm,
 Lord of the plains, rose up in endless woods
  Like vaulted sanctuaries, cathedrals of soft shade;
   Slippery Elm, Rock Elm and the banquet place
    Of songbirds, the silver-fruited Hackberry.

The Beeches grew there too, shoulder to shoulder:
 Single season White Oak and biennial Black,
  Fat, shaggy-acorned Bur Oak, Swamp Oak and the Northern Red.
   And in the south the fields were clogged with maples then:
    Sugar, Black, Red, Silver, and Mountain Maples,

The glory of autumn, Moosewood and the cool Boxelder.
 Willows lined the rivers too: Bigtooth and
  Quaking Aspen along the Pigeon up to Rainy Lake,
   And by the Crow, the Minnesota River, and the Red,
    Black Willow, Crack Willow, Sandbar, Peachleaf,

And the oriental Weeping Willow of Biblical renown
 That wept by the waters of Babylon when exiles wept in psalm,
  And huge Cottonwoods, the settlers' best windbreak;
   And all the richer, rarer grains in plentiful supply:
    Black Walnut, Butternut, and the sour Swamp Hickory;

Varieties of Olive: Red Ash, Blue Ash, White;
 Basswood and the flowering, sweet-honey Linden
  That perfume the summer night;
   Choke Cherry, Wild-Black, Pin Cherry, Plum;
    Serviceberry, Hawthorn, Mountain Ash and Apple (Roses);

The Smooth and Staghorn Sumac (Cashews);
 And the lone Horsechestnut tree.
  The lone Horsechestnut, most missed by summer boys,
   Whose fruit was diamonds in my barefoot days.
    Nearly all gone now.

Blasted by a cold, hard easter out of Europe,
 More waves of driven exiles
  Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind
   Whose sorrow altered to a brimming disbelief
    At the wealth befallen them

And hardened to cold incomprehension,
 A blue-ox, whirlwind of tree plunderers
  Wrapped in a timberman cult.