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Howe'er it was, his language in my mind,
But not to moralize too much, and strain,
O happy Britain ! we have not to fear
Survivor sole, and hardly such, of all,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,
It seems idolatry with some excuse,
Thou wast a bauble once; a cup and ball, Which babes might play with ; and the thievish jay, Seeking her food, with ease might have purloin'd The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down Thy yet close-folded latitude of boughs And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp. But Fate thy growth decreed; autumnal rains Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil Design’d thy cradle; and a skipping deer, With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe prepar'd The soft receptacle, in which, secure, Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can,'
Thou fell'st mature; and in the loamy clod Swelling with vegetative force instinct Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins Now stars ; two lobes, proti ing, pair'd exact ; A leaf succeeded, and another leaf, And, all the elements thy puny growth Fost’ring propitious, thou becam'st a twig.
Who liv’d, when thou wast such? Oh, couldst
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 num'rous flocks, That graz’d it, stood beneath that ample cope Uncrowded, yet safe-shelter'd from the storm. No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outliv'd 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 push'd Of treeship — first a seedling, hid in grass ; Then twig; then sapling; and, as cent’ry rollid Slow after century, a giant-bulk Of girth enormous, with moss-cushion'd root Upheav'd above the soil, and sides emboss'd 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 bath the world Witness'd 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 and 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, Fine passing thought, e’en in her coarsest works, Delight in agitation, yet sustain The force that agitates, not unimpair'd; But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause Of their best tone their dissolution owe.
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still
Slow, into such magnificent decay.
Embowell’d now, and of thy ancient self Possessing nought, but the scoop'd 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 forbidd'st The feller's toil, which thou couldst ill requite.
# Knee-timber is found in the crooked arms of oak, which, by reason of their distortion, are easily adjusted to the angle formed where the deck and the ship's sides meet.