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To my father

He sat down under a juniper tree
And wished that he might die.
I am not better than my fathers
Was his complaint and cry.

The story always pleased me as a child.
The way it named the tree —
The particular kind he sat down under —
Started my sympathy.

The phrase itself — not better than my fathers
I never understood.
Admitting such a gauge of our condition
Took me until manhood.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author