New England Apples

New England Apples

We enjoyed the apple harvest at the beginning of November, with the local Cider Days and its offerings of fresh apples, sweet cider, and hard cider. Poet Robert Francis of Cushman wrote about apples in late autumn:

The winter apples have been picked, the garden turned.
Rain and wind have picked the maple leaves and gone.
The last of them now bank the house or have been burned.
None are left upon the trees or on the lawn.

The Amherst Historical Society is fortunate to have a video of Mr. Henry Lyman’s lecture about Robert Francis, as well as a lecture by Mr. Russell Powell about the history and varieties of New England apples, and about John Chapman, of Leominster, Mass, who was also known as Johnny Appleseed.

Poet Robert Francis in Cushman

by Henry Lyman

Robert Churchill Francis, once described by Robert Frost as “the best neglected poet,” was born on August 12, 1901 in Upland, Pennsylvania. He attended Harvard University; after graduating, he moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, where he taught high school for one year, then devoted his life to writing poetry. He lived in Cushman in a small house he built in 1940 that he named “Fort Juniper,” inspiring editors at the University of Massachusetts Press to name their poetry award the Juniper Prize.

During his writing career, Francis served as Phi Beta Kappa poet at both Tufts and Harvard. A world traveler, he often journeyed to Europe, at one time teaching at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon.