There stood in a beautiful garden
A tall and stately tree.
Crowned with its shining leafage
It was wondrous fair to see.
But alas! it was always fruitless;
Never a blossom grew
To brighten its spreading branches
The whole long season through.
The lord of the garden saw it,
And he said, when the leaves were sere,
"Cut down this tree so worthless,
And plant another here.
My garden is not for beauty
Alone, but for fruit, as well,
And no barren tree must cumber
The place in which I dwell."
The gardener heard in sorrow,
For he loved the barren tree
As we love some things about us
That are only fair to see.
"Leave it one season longer,
Only one more, I pray,"
He plead, but the lord of the garden
Was firm, and answered, "Nay."
Then the gardener dug about it,
And cut its roots apart,
And the fear of the fate before it
Struck home to the poor tree's heart.
Faithful and true to his master,
Yet loving the tree as well,
The gardener toiled in sorrow
Till the stormy evening fell.
"Tomorrow," he said, "I will finish
The task that I have begun."
But the morrow was wild with tempest,
And the work remained undone.
And through all the long, bleak winter
There stood the desolate tree,
With the cold white snow about it,—
A sorrowful thing to see.
At last, the sweet spring weather
Made glad the hearts of men,
And the trees in the lord's fair garden
Put forth their leaves again.
"I will finish my task tomorrow,"
The busy gardener said,
And thought, with a thrill of sorrow,
That the beautiful tree was dead.
The lord came into his garden
At an early hour next day,
And to the task unfinished
The gardener led the way.
And lo! all white with blossoms,
Fairer than ever to see,
In the promise of coming fruitage
Stood the sorely-chastened tree.
"It is well," said the lord of the garden.
And he and the gardener knew
That out of its loss and trial
Its promise of fruitfulness grew.
It is so with some lives that cumber
For a time the Lord's domain.
Out of trial and bitter sorrow
There cometh countless gain,
And fruit for the Master's harvest
Is borne of loss and pain.