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But busy bees forsake the Elm

That bears no bloom aloft-
The Finch was in the hawthorn-bush,

The Blackbird in the croft ;
And among the firs the brooding Dove,

That else might murmur soft.

Yet still I heard that solemn sound,

And sad it was to boot,
From ev'ry overhanging bough,

And each minuter shoot;
From the rugged trunk and mossy rind,

And from the twisted root.

From these,-a melancholy moan;

From those,-a dreary sigh;
As if the boughs were wintry bare,

And wild winds sweeping by-
Whereas the smallest fleecy cloud

Was steadfast in the sky.

No sign or touch of stirring air

Could either sense observe
The zephyr had not breath enough

The thistle-down to swerve,
Or force the filmy gossamers

To take another curve.

In still and silent slumber hush'd

All Nature seem'd to be :
From heaven above, or earth beneath,

No whisper came to me
Except the solemn sound and sad

From that MYSTERIOUS TREE!

A hollow, hollow, hollow sound,

As is that dreamy roar
When distant billows boil and bound

Along a shingly shore
But the ocean brim was far aloof,

A hundred miles or more.

No murmur of the gusty sea,

No tumult of the beach,
However they might foam and fret,

4

The bounded sense could reach
Methought the trees in mystic tongue

Were talking each to each !

Mayhap, rehearsing ancient tales
Of greenwood love or guilt,

Of whisper'd vows

Beneath their boughs;
Or blood obscurely spilt ;
Or of that near-hand Mansion House

A Royal Tudor built.

Perchance, of booty won or shared

Beneath the starry cope-
Or where the suicidal wretch

Hung up the fatal rope ;
Or Beauty kept an evil tryste,

Insnared by Love and Hope.

Of graves, perchance, untimely scoop'd

At midnight dark and dank-
And what is underneath the sod
Whereon the grass is rank-

Of old intrigues,

And privy leagues,
Tradition leaves in blank.

Of traitor lips that mutter'd plots

Of Kin who fought and fell -
God knows the undiscover'd schemes,

The arts and acts of Hell,
Perform'd long generations since,

If trees had tongues to tell !

With wary eyes, and ears alert,

As one who walks afraid,
I wander'd down the dappled path

Of mingled light and shade-
How sweetly gleam'd that arch of blue

Beyond the green arcade!

How cheerly shone the glimpse of Heav'n

Beyond that verdant aisle !
All overarch'd with lofty elms,

That quench'd the light, the while,

As dim and chill

As serves to fill
Some old Cathedral pile !

And many a gnarlèd trunk was there,

That ages long had stood,
Till Time had wrought them into shapes

Like Pan's fantastic brood;
Or still more foul and hideous forms

That Pagans carve in wood !

A crouching Satyr lurking here

And there a Goblin grimAs staring full of demon life

As Gothic sculptor's whimA marvel it had scarcely been

To hear a voice from him !

Some whisper from that horrid mouth

Of strange, unearthly tone;
Or wild infernal laugh, to chill

One's marrow in the bone.
But no—it grins like rigid Death,

And silent as a stone !

As silent as its fellows be,

For all is mute with them The branch that climbs the leafy roofThe rough and mossy stem

The crooked root,

And tender shoot,
Where hangs the dewy gem.

One mystic Tree alone there is,

Of sad and solemn sound-
That sometimes murmurs overhead,

And sometimes underground-
In all that shady Avenue,

Where lofty Elms abound.

Part II.

The Scene is changed ! green

Arcade-
No Trees all ranged a-row-
But scatter'd like a beaten host,

Dispersing to and fro;
With here and there a sylvan corse,

That fell before the foe.

The Foe that down in yonder dell

Pursues his daily toil;
As witness many a prostrate trunk,

Bereft of leafy spoil,
Hard by its wooden stump, whereon

The adder loves to coil.

Alone he works-his ringing blows

Have banish'd bird and beast;
The Hind and Fawn have canter'd off

A hundred yards at least;
And on the maple's lofty top,

The linnet's song has ceased.

No eye his labour overlooks,

Or when he takes his rest;
Except the timid thrush that peeps

Above her secret nest,
Forbid by love to leave the young

Beneath her speckled breast.

The Woodman's heart is in his work,

His axe is sharp and good : With sturdy arm and steady aim He smites the gaping wood;

From distant rocks

His lusty knocks
Re-echo many a rood.

His axe is keen, his arm is strong;

The muscles serve him well;
His years have reach'd an extra span,

The number none can tell ;
But still his lifelong task has been

The Timber Tree to fell.

Through Summer's parching sultriness,
And Winter's freezing cold,

From sapling youth

To virile growth,
And Age's rigid mould,
His energetic axe hath rung

Within that Forest old.

Aloft, upon his poising steel

The vivid sunbeams glance-
About his head and round his feet

The forest shadows dance;
And bounding from his russet coat

The acorn drops askance.

His face is like a Druid's face,

With wrinkles furrow'd deep,
And tann'd by scorching suns as brown

As corn that's ripe to reap ;
But the hair on brow, and cheek, and chin,

Is white as wool of sheep.

His frame is like a giant's frame;

His legs are long and stark ;
His arms like limbs of knotted yew ;
His hands like rugged bark;

So he felleth still

With right good will, As if to build an Ark !

Oh! well within His fatal path

The fearful Tree might quake Through every fibre, twig, and leaf, With aspen tremour shake;

Through trunk and root,

And branch and shoot,
A low complaining make!

Oh! well to Him the Tree might breathe

A sad and solemn sound,
A sigh that murmur'd overhead,

And groans from underground;
As in that shady Avenue

Where lofty Elms abound!

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