Poetry of August E. Nelson


Now when spring has come again,
Changing snowflakes into rain
Way up North in Aroostook.
Then the snowdrifts deep and white
Seem to take a sudden fright.
For they vanish out of sight,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Swelling springs and filling streams
‘Til a brook a river seems
Way up North in Aroostook.
Rugged men go on the drive
If they do not keep alive,
They in icy waters dive,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Soon the streams with lumber fills
Floating downward to the mills
Way up North in Aroostook.
From the swamp and all the bogs
Rings the chorus of the frogs,
Singing farewell to the logs
Way up North in Aroostook.

From their holes the woodchucks creep
And the black bear wakes from sleep,
Way up North in Aroostook.
And the caribou, moose, and deer
Seem to lose their autumn fear,
Human dwellings venture near,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Back the summer birds will come
When the partridge beats his drum,
Way up North in Aroostook.
Noisy flight of ducks and geese
Singing echoes ’mong the trees,
Speak of solitude and peace
Way up North in Aroostook.

Now the city sport comes back,
Trudging onward minus hack
Way up North in Aroostook.
For the city, drops a tear
Inward yearning mixed with fear
Longing for a drink of beer,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Here the air is clear and keen
And the grass is really green,
Way up North in Aroostook.
Here the sunbeams glowing bright
Yield their warm and shimmering light
To the cooling breeze of night,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Handsome trout and salmon play
‘Round the angler’s hook all day,
Way up North in Aroostook.
Whitefish, pickerel, perch, and bass
Are too often caught, alas!
By the lounger in the grass,
Way up North in Aroostook.

Rosy girls and rugged boys
Walk around with natural poise,
Way up North in Aroostook.
But their minds are keen and bright
True and steady in the fight,
For their honor, love, and might,
Way up North in Aroostook.

You can go to southern climes,
Keep on sending mystic rhymes,
Way up North in Aroostook.
You may linger far away
In the scorching heat and play,
But in summer let me stay,
Way up North in Aroostook.

By August E. Nelson
April 29, 1901


C, Apple Blossoms pure and fair,
With snow and sunset blending,
Your delicately sweet perfume
On wafting breezes sending.
You, with a fragrance fill the air,
Your splendor and perfumery rare,
A higher aim is lending.

But fragrance, splendor, all will go,
The buds and blooming flowers,
That now in clusters mid the green
On lofty branches tower.
When rustling winds will come and blow,
And scatter round like flakes of snow
Your blooms in feathery showers.

Can now your life-work all be o’er?
Is now your mission ended?
Have you performed to full extent
The task that you intended?
Well, then! Have thanks if nothing more
For noble feelings, that you bore,
That to our bosom wended.

C, no! not yet, your work is slow,
A tale you are relating,
For at departure as farewell
Your mission you are staging,
You did not come alone for show,
You only wished to let us know
Of what you had in waiting.

Soon, ripened fruit, in growing hast,
The blossom is replacing,
Here is the blend of pink and white,
In artful interlacing,
Not one sweet charm has gone to waste
For in the fresh delicious taste,
Your fragrance we are tracing.

C! Apple Blossom! Who could think,
Your beauty so caressing,
Your fragrant odor, that we deemed
A moment so impressing,
Should not into oblivion sink
But present with the future link,
And be so great a blessing.

C! Apple Blossom! Herald dove,
Of our own lives reminding,
The words of kindness, noble deeds,
That now are not so binding,
May come from higher source above,
When we are gone, the ones we love,
Those tracings my be finding.

By A. E. Nelson
May 1901


You may travel round the world,
See each nation’s flag unfurled,
Sights and wonders you may see,
You may live in tropic lands
Wander on the distant sands,
But Maine is good enough for me.

You may seek for foreign wealth,
Risk your life and lose your health,
In Aroostook I will be,
Roam the prairies of the West,
Stand upon Himalaya’s crest,
But Maine is good enough for me.

By A. E. Nelson
April 29, 1901


Summer time has come and gone
And autumn has arrived
The forest donned its fancy dress
So beautifully contrived
Up from the brightest orange hur
Down to the deepest green
A spot of brilliant scarlet shade
Mixed vividly in between
But all the beauty soon will end
With winter drawing near
And so we take a chance to sen
A woodland souvenir
And scattered on the distant hills
A fancy patterned scene
And all the wood seems quiet now
Is tranquil and serene.

By August E. Nelson


It is raining hard and it is cold and wet,
The leaves on the trees are not showing yet.
It’s a grey May-day that gives you the shivers.
The water is flowing in streams and rivers.
The panes are damp and the trees are dripping.
Outside in the grass the robins are skipping.
Way over south where the sun shines thru,
There shows a patch of the bluest blue.
Just like an old-fashioned pinafore
That the maidens wore in the days of yore
When I went to school as a little tot,
In old log house on the corner lot.
And hung my cap on a peg in a cleat.
And dangled my legs from a rough log seat,
Trying to make the letters straight
With a broken rock on a piece of slate.
“A poor education,” Well maybe so
Perhaps that it was, but then—I don’t know!
For it’s good for a man when the sky is grey
To have known hard times in a by-gone day.
What then if his letters aren’t quite so straight
If he only has learned to appreciate,
The spot in the clouds where the sun shines
Showing a bit of the heaven’s blue.

By A. E. Nelson
May 7, 1922


While looking out at the autumn rain
The world seems close and small
But there at the edge of the misty wood,
Stands a mighty spruce as it long has stood
While others beside it are falling down,
Higher and higher it lifts its crown,
A sentinel straight and tall.

And a boyhood’s fancy comes again,
Of a great world bright and grand,
Over the blue hills foggy crest
Past the valleys that lie at rest,
Where the rim of the earth seems to meet the skies,
Far, far over yonder, I know it lies,
That wonderful unknown land.

And a restless feeling within me stirs
I long to wander away.
Off like a bird I long to fly
To the boundary line of the western sky,
Where the floating clouds are in silver rolled,
And the sun goes down in the red and gold,
To the land of the sunny day.

Off, where the sea is flowing calm
And the sailing ships go through.
Where a moss-grown path is winding away,
And the sunbeams in ‘mong the shadow play,
Where roses grow and the trees are tall
And the lilies nod at the waterfall,
And the skies are the bluest blue.

To the land of honor and noble deeds
That wealth and fame enhance.
Where life is daring to do or die,
Where blood runs warm and the feelings high,
With men of courage and true as steel,
With women that love and with hearts that feel
The land of the sweet romance.
C, I long to wander far beyond,
Where I see the tall tree stand,
O’er the blue hills where I cannot see
Off, where the beautiful world must be,
Off, where the clouds commence to grow,
Off, on the winds I long to go
To my wonderful unknown land.

By A. E. Nelson


In olden times when miles were long,
And horse not so many,
When stages brought the precious mails,
When trains there were not any.
When fire places warmed the rooms
And gas was not invented,
When cobblers made the walking shoes,
And bikes were not patented.
When girls could milk, and boys could mow,
And work considered duty,
When meadow bloom and rosy cheeks
Were looked upon as beauty,
When humbug did not rule the land
And business not the living.
When men were known for what they were and not for money giving.
When girls were often known as “girls”
They weren’t “stars” or “daisies.”
When English could be used in speech
Instead of slang and phrases.
When rings were not as cheap as now
And trinkets worth their money,
When sentiment was not so high
And courting wasn’t funny.
When maidens weren’t sold at par
Unto the highest bidder,
When swains would hold affections dear
And genuine worth consider.
When words and ways were frank and true
And not so fine and sordid,
Then! Girls would know “how well he loved”
And not, “how well he courted!”

By A. E. Nelson
October 1901

New Sweden First Baptist Church


If the kindness of one could be counted
In handsomest writing told,
If the smiles of another were mounted
In frames of the richest gold,
And you should go forth for to sell them
To choose from the two you should tell them
Which one would be easiest sold?

By A. E. Nelson


C, say what became of the manhood
Our childhood’s bright fancy could see?
What became of the riches and glory
The time that was happy and free?
What became of the title we carried,
What became of the love that we married?

C, Where is the dream-land hero,
The wonderful courage and deeds?
C, Where is the rose-bestrown pathway
To honor and dignity leads?
C, where are the garlands and flowers,
The jewels and glittering showers?

C, Where is the knowledge and power,
The wise, perfect man that we knew?
And where is the General facing
The danger where others withdrew?
Who can our green laurels be keeping,
Where are our abilities sleeping.

Is childhood’s bright vision a falsehood?
Are dreams of our manhood a lie?
Why shall they like bubbles be bursting?
Why must they in infancy die?
Why not a solid foundation
To better and honor the Nation?

C, Why shall our manhood be mocking,
The hopes of our earlier days?
C, Why shall the beautiful vision
Stand forth like a show of disgrace?
We find what we never expected,
No childhood’s bright rays are detected.

By August E. Nelson
November 7, 1901
Written in eighteen minutes on a trial of quick work.


A winter eve’ not long ago
The full moon shining bright
A silvery frost on trees and field
A soft of winking light
A perfectly calm quietude
A silence all around
‘Twas then that suddenly I missed
An old familiar sound
The lilting sound of ringing bells
To winter tide belonged
And vividly in memory
Old recollections thronged
To hear the sleigh bells ringing gay
A tranquil feeling stirred
They may be gone forever now
And nevermore be heard
But oft’ some clear and crispy night
A team would plod along
The teamsters twice would join the bells
In old romantic song
O’er snow clad forest floating out
For many miles around
And echoes from the distant hills
Would mockingly rebound
And then there was the sleigh-rides
Some cool and sunny day
The horse is lightly harnessed
The plush upholstered sleigh
The fur coat buttoned tightly
The robes to keep you warm
All bundled up and ready
To meet most any storm
A string of bells precision-tuned
Would ring a merry chime
And with the frisky trotting
Be keeping perfect time
The boys would start a straw ride
When they had time to spare
They’d harness up a heavy team
A fast and sturdy pall
Two heavy bells for every horse
That was the country law
And hitch them to the walking sled
And fill it up with straw
Throw in a lot of blankets
And robes to keep them warm
The waiting crowd of young folks
A restless merry swarm
As soon as all had tumbled in
With rosy cheeks aglow
The teamster speaks a word or two
And promptly off they go
And when they skidded on the ice
They tumbled all about
They shrieked and screamed
And some would laugh and shout
With clanging bells o’er hill and vale
The team would trot along
And after then their voices rose
In fine old fashioned song
They stopped at someone’s party
And lingered there awhile
And then they started back for home
In genuine winter-style
And that they had a gorgeous time
They all seemed to agree
And never bothered with the fare
For everything was free
Well so it was and so it went
In days of long ago
They had their work they had their fun
Befitting winter snow
There were a lot of things to miss
In retrospect recall
But oh: the pleasant ringing bells
I miss them most of all

By August E. Nelson


With a whirl and twirl the snowflakes fall
In steady ceaseless shifting,
Through cracks and crevices though small
Hurled in fantastic drifting.
Lichens, ferns, and laurel leaves
On frosty panes a-glitter,
Vesper tunes from ice-clad eaves
Echoing snowbirds twitter,
And along the forest dim
Neath the fir trees spreading,
Dusky forms and faires trim
From dark grottoes treading.
Reeling, racing with delight
In the twilight dancing.
Evening shadow falling light
Nightly gloom advancing.
Dreaming in the flickering glow,
Sweet old memories come and go
Hushed in silence deep for them
In the firelight’s mystic flame
Perchance I see my friends again.

By A. E. Nelson

Wedding reception in August Nelson's barn


C, for the letter that never was sent,
The time, the trouble, the thoughts that lent,
And all that’s offered upon the shrine
The freedom breathed in every line,
Beautiful love and friendship true
Such as the reader never knew,
In that letter that never was sent.

C, for the letter that never was sent,
For the patient hope and longing spirit
For a word of love or a line of cheer,
The stifled sigh and the sweet tear,
For only a word, if nothing more
From a dear one off on a distant shore,
C, Thou letter that never was sent.

By A. E. Nelson


Quite early one morning twas blowing a gale
Snowing and whirled with the storm
We shivered and struggled the best way we could
To keep ourselves decently warm
It was then that we saw him out there in the field
In drifts way up to his waist
As if nothing did hinder he forged right ahead
With a sort of invisible haste
His jacket unbuttoned and flung to the sides
Shirt button gone, chest rather bare
There was ice on his collar and snow on his throat
And frost that clung in his hair
He juggled his cap down over one ear
And said with a bashful-like grin
They say it’s a blizzard so I thought I’d go out
He stopped and stood rubbing his chin
I thought I’d come over and see how you were
And how you were getting along
In weather like this it would be kind of tough
If something went suddenly wrong
We thanked him and said we felt pretty well
And managed to keep on the go
By shuttling between the stove and the cows
And the rest in shoveling snow
He said it is tough but not very bad
It is only round forty below

By August E. Nelson
Jan. 1961


There are some things that should be done today
But just put off to wait until tomorrow
As if it should be easier then
And plenty time to borrow
When day by day we wait and wait
So thus we go and hesitate
Till what we do may be too late
And all we reap is sorrow

By August E. Nelson
New Sweden, Maine
Sept. 1961


Small small words when spoken
With love each day and night
On the home is spreading
Sunshine and delight

By August E. Nelson


It is better late than never
The old saying used to go
Perhaps it is and were so
When acknowledgement expecting
We are so prone to putting off
And rightful duty be neglecting

They are in their second childhood
You may have heard them say
There is a certain point to that
In many a different way
When you are old and not so spry,
The crowd is mostly passing by
The lonely child made happy by
The recognition rendered
And thus am I, I’m thankful for
The greeting and the gift and glad to be remembered

By August E. Nelson
New Sweden, Maine
April 23, 1961


I tried and tried without success
In fitting language to express
My heartfelt thought
Your letter brought
So please excuse my failing
I know my lines are rather tame
So I’ll say thank you just the same
And let the rest go sailing

By August E. Nelson

Marker at New Sweden Cemetery, New Sweden, Maine

Marker at New Sweden Cemetery, New Sweden, Maine

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