« PreviousContinue »
Of argument, employed too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!
Thou fellest mature: and in the loamy clod Swelling with vegetative force instinct
Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,° 35
And, all the elements thy puny growth.
Fostering propitious, thou becamest a twig.
Who lived when thou wast such? Oh, couldst
As in Dodona° once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious, ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the woods, And Time hath made thee what thou art For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs O'erhung the champaign; and the numerous flocks That grazed it stood beneath that ample cope
Uncrowded, yet safe-sheltered from the storm. No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outlived Thy popularity, and art become
(Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth.
While thus through all the stages thou hast pushed
Of girth enormous, with moss cushioned root
What exhibitions various hath the world
That we account most durable below!
In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads, 80 Fine passing thought, e'en in her coarsest works,
Delight in agitation, yet sustain
The force, that agitates, not unimpaired;
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still
Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence,
Time was, when, settling on thy leaf, a fly
Could shake thee to the root and time has been
When tempests could not. At thy firmest age
Thou hadst within thy bole solid contents,
That might have ribbed the sides and planked the deck
Of some flagged admiral°; and tortuous arms,
Achieved a labor, which had far and wide,
Embowelled now, and of thy ancient self Possessing nought but the scooped rind, that seems An huge throat, calling to the clouds for drink, Which it would give in rivulets to thy root, Thou temptest none, but rather much forbiddest The feller's toil, which thou couldst ill requite. Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock, A quarry of stout spurs, and knotted fangs, Which, crooked into a thousand whimsies, clasp The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.
So stands a kingdom, whose foundation yet Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid, Though all the superstructure, by the tooth Pulverized of venality, a shell
Stands now, and semblance only of itself!
Thine arms have left thee. Winds have rent them off
Long since, and rovers of the forest wild
With bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have
A splintered stump, bleached to a snowy white;
Even where death predominates. The Spring
One man alone, the father of us all,
With love and wisdom, rendered back to Heaven
Minority. No tutor charged his hand.
With the thought-tracing quill, or tasked his mind With problems. History, not wanted yet,