Britannica.com describes Liberty Hyde Bailey as a botanist who “transformed U.S. horticulture from a craft to an applied science and had a direct influence on the development of genetics, plant pathology, and agriculture.” He had a profound effect on the shape of Cornell, securing state funding for the State College of Agriculture at Cornell, now CALS—without which there’d be no NYSIPM Program.
But Bailey was also a poet. From Wind and Weather, published in 1919 with roughly 130 poems, we sense an approach to horticulture that even now we’re still honing, shaping, revising.
Here we offer “Apple-Year.”
My last winter apple I ate today.
Shapely and stout in their mottled skins
Securely packed in my cellar bins
Two dozen good kinds of apple-spheres lay.
And today I went to my orchard trees
And picked me the first-ripe yellow fruits
That hung far out on the swinging shoots
In summer suns and the wonder-day breeze.
And thereby it was that the two years met
Deep in the heart of the ripe July
When the wheat was shocked and streams were dry;
And the weather of winter stayed with me yet.
For I planted these orchard trees myself
On hillside slopes that belong to me
Where visions are wide and winds are free
That all the round year might come to my shelf.
And there on my shelves the white winter through
Pippin and Newtown, Rambo and Spy
Greening and Swaar and Spitzenburg lie
With memories tense of sun and the dew.
They bring the great fields and the fence-rows here,
The ground-bird’s nest and the cow-bell’s stroke
The tent-worm’s web and the night-fire’s smoke
And smell of the smartweed through all the year.
They bring me the days when the ground was turned,
When the trees were pruned and tilled and sprayed,
When the sprouts were cut and grafts were made,
When fields were cleaned and the brush-wood piles burned
And then the full days of the ripe months call
For Jefferis, Dyer, and Early Joe
Chenango, Mother, Sweet Bough and Snow
That hold the pith of high summer and fall.
All a-sprightly and tart the crisp flesh breaks
And the juices run cordial and fine
Where colors and acids combine
And lie in the cells till essence awakes
I taste of the wilds and the blowing rain
And I taste of the frosts and the skies;
Condensed they lie in the apple guise
And then escape and restore me again.
So every day all the old years end
And so every day they begin;
So every day the winds come in
And so every day the twelve-months blend.