To an Old Oak
Round thee, alas, no shadows move!
From thee no sacred murmurs breathe!
Yet within thee, thyself a grove,
Once did the eagle scream above,
And the wolf howl beneath.
There once the steel-clad knight reclin'd,
His sable plumage tempest-toss'd;
And, as the death-bell smote the wind,
From towers long fled by human kind,
His brow the hero cross'd!
Then Culture came, and days serene,
And village-sports, and garlands gay.
Full many a pathway cross'd the green;
And maids and shepherd-youths were seen,
To celebrate the May.
Father of many a forest deep,
(Whence many a navy thunder-fraught)
Erst in their acorn-cells asleep,
Soon destin'd o'er the world to sweep,
Opening new spheres of thought!
Wont in the night of woods to dwell,
The holy druid saw thee rise;
And, planting there the guardian-spell,
Sung forth, the dreadful pomp to swell
Of human sacrifice!
Thy singed top and branches bare
Now straggle in the evening sky;
And the wan moon wheels round to glare
On the long corse that shivers there
Of him who came to die!
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.