Lavonne, an old friend of mine from Plum Creek Children’s Literature Festival held each year on the campus of Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, handed me a clipping with a poem called “To the Wayfarer.” This was apparently published in a 1991 issue of WOOD Magazine and was translated from Portuguese into English. I like the poem but don’t know the original poet. Maybe no one does. According to legend, many Portuguese people would attach the poem to trees in their forests:
To the Wayfarer-
Ye who pass by and would raise your hand against me
Harken ere you harm me!
I am the heat of your hearth on cold winter nights,
The friendly shade screening you from the summer sun
My fruits are refreshing draughts,
Quenching your thirst as you journey on,
I am the beam that holds your house,
The board of your table,
The bed on which you lie,
And the timber that builds your boat,
I am the handle of your hoe,
The door of your homestead,
The wood of your cradle,
And the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer; harm me not.