“The Storm” by Darius M. Ratcliff

Poplar (1827)


The storm came rolling toward us,

The sky grew densely black;

And thunder crashed fearful

Scarce missed the lightning’s track.

Strong gusts of wind were swaying

The tall thick maple tops:

And rain clouds fast descending

Sent down some great rain drops.

And soon the wind increasing

Began to show its might:

So dark had grown the valley

It near resembled night.

The air was filled with debris,

Dead limbs were in its load:

A great tree top was lifted

And crashed across the road.

A half dead poplar giant

Was twisted right around,

And barely missed our house top

In crashing to the ground.

And now the wind in fury

Went lashing by the town,

And struck the pride of Naples,

The tree of wide renown.

The tree that linked us back

To pioneering date;

A mammouth balm of Gilead,

The largest in the state.

The tree that loomed up skyward

Six score feet and more;

Whose trunk in girth did measure

Ten feet beyond a score.

Its branches were like tree trunks,

And they great limbs did bear:

Its crown spread like a forest,

And towered high in air.

Its ponderous form had stood

Against all wind and blast;

As if ‘twere made of granite

And could the hills outlast.

But old had grown the giant,

And unbeknown to all

Its roots were rotting slowly;

The mammouth tree would fall.

And now the wind in  power

Was wrestling with the giant: –

But then a thousand others

Had found it adamant.

But lo! Its top is leaning!

It never leaned before:

The ground around the great trunk

Came buldging more and more.

And now above the storm roar

A rending sound is heard:

The crown dividing slowly,

Revealed what had occurred.

The sound  of rending roots

Was mingled with the roar,

As all its mammouth greatness

Swung out like swinging door.

A silent moment only,

And through the air  a flash:

And then great limbs were shattered,

And then a dead weight crash.

The jar was like an earthquake

For many rods around:

The roar of wind was lost

In that great thunderous sound.

And still the rain in torrents

Came pouring ever on;

The street was like a river,

A lake was all our lawn.

The sky grew brighter now,

And soon appeared the sun:

The giant low was laying,

By time and wind undone.

Reference: Newspaper – “The Naples Record”, Naples, New York, Wednesday, July 22, 1942, Page Six

“Kiandaga Chapter, D. A. R., has recently had a state marker erected at the Thomas Briggs farm, on the Woodville road, to mark the historic Balm of Gilead tree which was felled by the rains during the night of January 1-2, 1942. The marker was taken down a few weeks ago for correction, following the fall of the tree which once was claimed to be the second largest tree in the state.”

Click to access Naples%20NY%20Record%201941-1942%20-%200665.pdf

Photo above retrieved from:

Image Title:  Poplar.

Additional Name(s):
Hullmandel, Charles Joseph, 1789-1850 — Printer
Burgess, Henry W. — Author

Medium: Lithographs
Item/Page/Plate: Pl. 10

Source: Eidodendron : views of the general character and appearance of trees foreign and indigenous connected with picturesque scenery.

Source Description: pp. [7], iii, [4]; Fol. 26 & plates. 54 plates, front. ; 56 cm.