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All summer long the forest trees
Had raised their leaves for dew and breeze;
But colder grew the autumn sun
And, slowly fading, one by one
The leaves came drifting down the air
Till soon the boughs would all be bare.


What sadness comes with fall of leaf!
The great trees bent their heads in grief
And raised their knotted arms to call
In prayer on Him Who made them all:
"O Gitche Manitou above,
Shall all be lost of these we love?"


In thunder roll and lightning flame
The Mighty Spirit's answer came:
"Behold, my forest, tempest-tossed,
How all must change, yet naught be lost!"
And while they heard the Master's words,
The drifting leaves were changed to birds!


The leaves of willow fluttered down
As Finches, tawny, green, and brown.
The red and russet leaves of oak
Became the Thrush and Robin folk.
The golden beech-leaves learned to fly
As Yellowbirds athwart the sky;
While all the maple leaves that turned
In changing hues that glowed and burned
Took wing across the wooded knolls
As Tanagers and Orioles!


So, every year when laughing Spring
Dissolves the snows, on eager wing
The birds of forest, hill, and glen
Return to know their trees again--
To build their nests, to peer and stir
Among the leaves of which they were;
And from those boughs where once they grew
They sing to Gitche Manitou.