Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed is the fourth song from Elie Siegmeister's song cycle American legends: six songs for voice and piano and sets Rosemary Benét's poetry to music.

Date: 1947Composer: Elie SiegmeisterText: Rosemary BenétSong Collection: American legends: six songs for voice and piano

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“Johnny Appleseed”

by Rosemary Benét


Of Jonathan Chapman 

Two things are known, 

That he loved apples, 

That he walked alone.  


At seventy-odd 

He was gnarled as could be, 

But ruddy and sound 

As a good apple tree.  


For fifty years over 

Of harvest and dew, 

He planted his apples 

Where no apples grew.  


The winds of the prairie 

Might blow through his rags, 

But he carried his seeds 

In the best deerskin bags.  


From old Ashtabula 

To frontier Fort Wayne, 

He planted and pruned 

And he planted again.  


He had not a hat 

To encumber his head. 

He wore a tin pan 

On his white hair instead.  


He nested with owls, 

And with bear-cub and possum, 

And knew all his orchards 

Root, tendril and blossom.  


A fine old man, 

As ripe as a pippin, 

His heart still light, 

And his step still skipping.  


The stalking Indian, 

The beast in its lair 

Did no hurt 

While he was there.  


For they could tell, 

As wild things can, 

That Jonathan Chapman 

Was God’s own man.  


Why did he do it? 

We do not know. 

He wished that apples 

Might root and grow.  


He has no statue.

He has no tomb. 

He has his apple trees 

Still in bloom.  


Consider, consider, 

Think well upon 

The marvelous story 

Of Appleseed John.

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