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The Fate of Elms


If they are doomed and all that can be done

Should fail, if they must die and disappear

And we must see them dying one by one,

Summer and fall and winter, year by year

Until there comes a summer so bereft

That over river, meadow, pasture height

No last and solitary elm is left

Lifting its leafy wings as if for flightó


Let us not make our grief for them too great

And say we wished that we had gone before,

Making the fate of elms too much our fate,

Seeing the always less and not the more.

Though elms may die, not everything must die:

Not their green memory against our sky.


Robert Francis



From Robert Francis: Collected Poems:
, University of Massachusetts Press,
© 1985.  Reprinted by permission.


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