The Forester

Phyllis and I found a poem on the internet here.

forester

It’s about a forester and I reckon there’s a dozen ways to read it.  I feel like it conveys people’s longing for a home (be they the axemen builders or the forester) and a way of approaching it, mentally. Or it might be about gentrification, who knows.

If you want to know about the author – he lost a leg at 12 trying to jump on board a steamer from a pier.  He got trapped between the steamer and the wharf, apparently clinging for life to the pier so that only one leg got maimed, which was then amputated above the knee.  Perhaps to spite the injury, he went on to excel at sports but struggle at academic subjects in school.

His dad was an eminent lawyer and his grandfather a political writer at the time of George Washington, and he was admitted to the bar at 21.  It appears he wrote throughout his time in legal training, developing a love for guns and forests, and by his mid-twenties he was a devoted, full-time writer and perhaps co-editor of a magazine, The New York American.

Read it below, if the image above is too squashed and blurry:

The Forester

There was an old hunter camp’d down by the rill,
Who fish’d in this water, and shot on that hill;
The forest for him had no danger nor gloom,
For all that he wanted was plenty of room.
Says he,” The world’s wide, there is room for us all:
Room enough in the greenwood if not in the hall.”
Room, boys, room, by the light of the moon,
For why shouldn’t every man enjoy his own room?

He wove his own mats, and his shanty was spread
With the skins he had dress’d, and stretch’d out overhead;
The branches of hemlock, piled deep on the floor,
Was his bed, as he sung, when the daylight was o’er,

“The world’s wide enough, there is room for us all;
Room enough in the greenwood, if not in the hall.
“Room, boys, room, by the light of the moon,
For why shouldn’t every man enjoy his own room?”

That spring, half choked up by the dust of the road,
Through a grove of tall maples once limpidly flow’d;
By the rock whence it bubbles his kettle was hung,
Which their sap often fill’d, while the hunter he sung,
“The world’s wide enough, there is room for us all;
Room enough in the greenwood, if not in the hall.”
Room, boys, room, by the light of the moon,
For why shouldn’t every man enjoy his own room?

And still sung the hunter—when one gloomy day
He saw in the forest what sadden’d his lay,
‘Twas the rut which a heavy-wheel’d wagon had made,
Where the greensward grows thick in the broad forest glade

“The world’s wide enough, there is room for us all;
Room enough in the greenwood, if not in the hall.”
Room, boys, room, by the light of the moon,
For why shouldn’t every man enjoy his own room?

He whistled his dog, and says he, “We can’t stay;
I must shoulder my rifle, up traps, and away.”
Next day, mid those maples, the settler’s axe rung,
While slowly the hunter trudged off, as he sung,
“The world’s wide enough, there is room for us all;
Room enough in the greenwood, if not in the hall.”
Room,boys, room, by the light of the moon,
For why shouldn’t every man enjoy his own room?

  • By Charles Fenno Hoffman (born 1806, New York)

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Other posts:
18 things you know when you live in a small home
It’s all in your head

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