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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
Now stars; two lobes, protruding, paired exact;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,

And, all the elements thy puny growth.

Fostering propitious, thou becamest a twig.

Who lived when thou wast such? Oh, couldst

thou speak,

As in Dodona° once thy kindred trees

Oracular, I would not curious, ask

The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.

By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
The clock of history, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts.
Recovering, and misstated setting right
Desperate attempt till trees shall speak again!




a cave

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 treeship first a seedling, hid in grass;
Then twig; then sapling; and, as century rolled
Slow after century, a giant-bulk

Of girth enormous, with moss cushioned root
Upheaved above the soil, and sides embossed
With prominent wens globose - till at the last
The rottenness, which time is charged to inflict
On other mighty ones, found also thee.

What exhibitions various hath the world
Witnessed of mutability in all

That we account most durable below!
Change is the diet on which all subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last
Destroys them. Skies uncertain now the heat
Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds,
Calm an alternate storm, moisture and drought,
Invigorate by turns the springs of life

In all that live, plant, animal, and man,

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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;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.

Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still
The great and little of thy lot, thy growth
From almost nullity into a state

Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence,
Slow, into such magnificent decay.

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,
The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present
To the four-quartered winds, robust and bold,
Warped into tough knee-timber,° many a load!
But the axe spared thee. In those thriftier days 100
Oaks fell not, hewn by thousands, to supply
The bottomless demands of contest, waged
For senatorial honors. Thus to Time
The task was left to whittle thee away
With his sly scythe, whose ever nibbling edge,
Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more,
Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserved,


Achieved a labor, which had far and wide,
By man performed, made all the forest ring.


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;
And some, memorial none where once they grew.
Yet life still lingers in thee, and puts forth
Proof not contemptible of what she can,


Even where death predominates. The Spring
Finds thee not less alive to her sweet force
Than yonder upstarts of the neighboring wood,
So much thy juniors, who their birth received
Half a millennium since the date of thine.
But since, although well qualified by age
To teach, no spirit dwells in thee, nor voice
May be expected from thee, seated here
On thy distorted root, with hearers none,
Or prompter, save the scene, I will perform
Myself the oracle, and will discourse.
In my own ear such matter as I may.

One man alone, the father of us all,
Drew not his life from woman; never gazed,
With mute unconsciousness of what he saw,
On all around him; learned not by degrees,
Nor owed articulation to his ear;
But, moulded by his Maker into man
At once, upstood intelligent, surveyed
All creatures, with precision understood.
Their purport, uses, properties; assigned
To each his name significant, and, filled






With love and wisdom, rendered back to Heaven
In praise harmonious the first air he drew.
He was excused the penalties of dull

Minority. No tutor charged his hand.

With the thought-tracing quill, or tasked his mind With problems. History, not wanted yet,


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