There's a little Garden of Eden in the heart of the Volunteer State
That curves along the riverbank just south of Kentucky Lake,
Where on a day in early spring when the wild azaleas bloom,
A soul can rest and find relief from this world's gloom and doom.
The flora wear their multi-hues across the verdant hills:
The dogwood blossoms bless the heads of the buttery daffodils.
The lilac clusters of purple stars produce the sweetest smells
That permeate the atmosphere, lighted by yellow bells,
And join in blended harmony with the creamy locust blooms
To sneer in subtle, breezy wafts at man's contrived perfumes.
The blushing beauty of the bashful rose, balanced on the backyard fence,
Soothes the sight of a weary eye jaundiced by daily events,
And smiles at the blatant masquerade of the weighted snowball tree--
White pom-pons look like winter ice and harken back in glee
To that season recently passed, when shaped by little hands,
Missiles flew through frigid air and burst upon the land.
Out of the hills the songs of brooks, played out on limestone rocks,
Conjure a scene of tranquil repose by streambeds lined with phlox.
It's for this place with beauty blessed that something in me yearns,
And childhood spent in those dear hills in memory returns
To lead me to my natural home where I can finally rest
From time clocks, deadlines, business trips, and soothe away duress.
There is no place in the universe, designed by our Creator,
That can compare in solace rare, to the County of Decatur.
I wrote this poem in April of 1972 after driving through our beloved county on my way back to Memphis. That perfect, idyllic morning brought back memories of the many lovely days of my youth, days when my father taught me about the trees, wild flowers, food plants, and fauna that God has provided for us on this earth, particularly that part of the planet where we were so fortunate to be living. My heart swollen with appreciation and love, I had composed the entire ode in my head by the time I reached the city. (I know. It's sappy, but real.)