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"A third would glimmer on her neck
To make the necklace shine;
Another slid, a sunny fleck,
From head to ancle fine.
"Then close and dark my arms I spread,
And shadow'd all her rest
Dropt dews upon her golden head,
An acorn in her breast.
"But in a pet she started up,
And pluck'd it out, and drew
My little oakling from the cup,
"And yet it was a graceful gift—
I felt a pang within
As when I see the woodman lift
His axe to slay my kin.
"I shook him down because he was
The finest on the tree.
He lies beside thee on the grass.
O kiss him once for me.
"O kiss him twice and thrice for me,
That have no lips to kiss,
For never yet was oak on lea
Shall grow so fair as this."
Step deeper yet in herb and fern,
Look further thro' the chace,
Spread upward till thy boughs discern
The front of Sumner-place.
This fruit of thine by Love is blest
That but a moment lay
Where fairer fruit of Love may rest
Some happy future day.
I kiss it twice, I kiss it thrice,
The warmth it thence shall win
To riper life may magnetise
The baby-oak within.
But thou, while kingdoms overset, Or lapse from hand to hand,
Thy leaf shall never fail, nor yet
Thine acorn in the land.
May never saw dismember thee,
That art the fairest-spoken tree
From here to Lizard-point.
O rock upon thy towery top
All throats that gurgle sweet!
All starry culmination drop
Balm-dews to bathe thy feet!
All grass of silky feather grow—
And while he sinks or swells
The full south-breeze around thee blow
The sound of minster bells.
The fat earth feed thy branchy root,
That under deeply strikes!
The northern morning o'er thee shoot,
High up, in silver spikes!
Nor ever lightning char thy grain,
But, rolling as in sleep,
Low thunders bring the mellow rain,
That makes thee broad and deep!
And hear me swear a solemn oath,
That only by thy side
Will I to Olive plight my troth,
And gain her for my bride.
And when my marriage-morn may fall,
She, Dryad-like, shall wear
Alternate leaf and acorn-ball
In wreath about her hair.
And I will work in
And praise thee more in both
Than bard has honour'd beech or lime,
Or that Thessalian growth,
In which the swarthy ringdove sat,
And mystic sentence spoke ;
And more than England honours that,
Thy famous brother-oak,
Wherein the younger Charles abode
Till all the paths were dim,
And far below the Roundhead rode,
And humm'd a surly hymn.