Skip to main content


ISSUE:  Summer 1928

Dusky and strong,
You lift high your branches,
Mighty magnolia;
Starred in rayed clusters,
Green, glossy, shining,
With thousands of leaves;
Sixty feet high
From the base to the top,
Green cone of glory: Waking in spring
With the beautiful cream-white cups of your blossom,
Charmed into opening
By the mocking-bird’s mad bursts of song.

Gulfwards they know you,
Where the chocolate-brown rivers boiling and fretting
Sway silently southward
Past the flat cotton-fields.
DeSoto stood under your branches,
Whetting his sword;
Marquette tied his boat where you stood overshading
some bayou,
Knelt there and prayed;
LaSalle planted beside you the golden lilies of France,
Proud and alone;
You are the dream of a forgotten Empire,
Louisiana and a lithe fiery quadroon singing,
Leather-legged hunters stuck your leaves in their coon-skin caps,
Calico-clad settlers tied your blooms to the bonnets of their wagons.

Dusky and strong,
You lift high your branches,
Mighty magnolia;
Forgetting, not knowing
How war raged once under your shade.
Iron guns of Vicksburg
Once boomed through your branches,
Whistling and whirling
Green leaves to the ground:
You were the hope of the south,
Here bugles blared, here flags were flung, here regiments raised a ragged cheer,
Here too the site of many a shallow grave
At which some blue-eyed farmer’s boy clutched at the bloody grass.

You guarded too the stately house
With its white fluted pillars;
Smooth-ruffled silks within were spread beneath the lustres,
Low bosoms gleamed, the fiddlers scraped like mad;
The music shook you as you dreamed within the moonlight,
Mad kisses and low murmurs thrilled your branches:
Spurs clinked as voices from the verandah started Dixie,
And long-curled gallants drank a toast to the new-born Stars and Bars.

Dusky and strong,
Dusky, deep-green,
Jade green and faint gold,
You stand now apart.
Apart from this age and its impotent clamor,
Its ravening fury, its pillage of ultimate destruction;
Apart from all things, dreaming only
Of an empire lost and forgotten,
Blown like the faint perfume from your chalices of snow,
Spreading about your dark trunk and your deep heavy shade to draw me
In the stifling slow midsummer days to the red-brown Southland still.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading