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Of argument, employed too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!

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Thou fellest mature: and in the loamy clod Swelling with vegetative force instinct Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins, o 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,

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As in Dodonao once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious, ask
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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What exhibitions various hath the world Witnessed of mutability in all

70 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, And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads, 80

, Fine passing thought, e'en in her coarsest works,

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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.

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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.

90 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

95 Of some flagged admiralo; and tortuous arms, The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present To the four-quartered winds, robust and bold, Warped into tough knee-timber,o 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,

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

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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.

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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

125 Long since, and rovers of the forest wild With bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have

left
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,

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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.

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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

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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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