The year when I was twenty-one
(John that year was twenty-three)
That was the year, that was the spring,
We planted the white magnolia tree.
'This tree,' said John, 'shall grow with us,
and every year it will bloom anew.
This is our life. This is our love.'
And the white magnolia grew and grew
Oh, youth's a thing of fire and ice
And currents that run
Hot and white,
And its world is as bright
as the sun
I was twenty-one
And I wore a plume in my hat, and
we went to the movies and wept over
'Stella Dallas,' and John sang
'Moonlight and Roses' (a little off-
key, but very nicely, really), and we
hurried through our crowded days
with beautiful plans, boundless
ambitions and golden decisions.
There is so much the young heart
clamors for; this it must have, and
that it cannot live without, and
it must be all or nothing, for
aren't we the masters of creation?
Oh, valiant and untamed were we,
When we planted the white magnolia tree!
And the white magnolia grew and grew,
Holding our love within its core,
And every year it bloomed anew,
and we were twenty-one no more.
No more untamed, no more so free,
Nor so young, nor so wild and
aflame were we.
Dearer to us then grew other things:
easy sleep, books, a day’s quiet
holiday, good talk beside a fire,
the beauty of old faces
We have known many things since
then: the death of a child and the
bitter lesson that a heart which
breaks must mend itself again
(that it can and must be done), and
what loyalty can mean, and how
real a word like courage can be-
come, and that solitude can be
rich and gratifying and quite
different from loneliness
There is so little the serious heart
requires: friends, faith, a window
open to to the world, pride in work
well done, and strength to live in
a world at war and still maintain
the heart's own private peace
Dear Heaven, I give thanks to thee
for the things I did not know before,
for the wisdom of maturity,
for bread, and a roof, and for
one thing more
Thanks because I still can see
the bloom on the white magnolia tree!