Improvement.

A poem by Hattie Howard

Along the avenue I pass
Huge piles of wood and stone,
And glance at each amorphous mass,
Whose cumbrous weight has crushed the grass,
With half resentful groan.

Say I: "O labor, to despoil
Some lovely forest scene,
Or at the granite stratum toil,
And desecrate whole roods of soil,
Is vandal-like and mean!

"Than ever to disfigure thus
Our prairie garden-land,
Let me consort with Cerberus,
Be chained to crags precipitous,
Or seek an alien strand."

But while this pining, pouting Muse
The interval ignores,
Deft industry, no time to lose,
Contrives and carries, hoists and hews,
And symmetry restores.

Behold! of rock and pile and board
A modern miracle,
My neighbor's dwelling, roofed and floored,
That rapid grew as Jonah's gourd,
And far more beautiful.

The artisan's receding gait
Has brushed the chips away,
Where innocence shall recreate,
Or like the flowers grow, and wait
The balminess of May.

An arid spot, where careless feet
Have long been wont to roam,
Where cattle grazed, as if to eat
Were life's delicious, richest treat,
Becomes a charming home.

O man primeval! hadst thou known,
Ere rude hands scooped thy grave,
Of Homestead Act, or Building Loan,
Thou wouldst have quite disdained to own
A rugged cliff or cave.

And now I see how skill and art
May cleave fair nature through,
Disintegrate her breathing heart,
And to the tissues torn impart
A use and beauty new.

And this improvement is, to turn
The things which God has given
To their best purpose, as we learn
To make the place where we sojourn
Homelike and more like Heaven.

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