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Who liv'd, when thou wast such ? Oh, couldst thou speak,
By thee I might correct, erroneous ofe,
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the woods; And Time hath made thee what thou art-a care For owls to roost in! Once thy spreading boughs O'erhung the champaign; and the numerous flocks, That graz’d it, stood beneath that ample cope Uncrouded, yet safe-shelter'd from the storm. No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast out-liv'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 cen'try rollid
What exhibitions various hath 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 The great and little of thy lot, thy growth From almost nallity 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 ribb'd the sides and plank'd the deck Of some flagg'd admiral, and tortuous arms, The ship-wright's darling treasure, didst present To the four quarter'd winds, robust aud bold, Warp'd into tough *knee-timber, many a load! But the axe spar'd thee. In those thriftier days Oaks fell not, hewn by thousands, to supply The bottomless demands of contest, wag'd For senatorial honours. Thus to Time The task was left to whittle thee away With his sly scythe, whose ever-nibbling edge,
Knee-Timber is found in the crooked arms of vak, which by reason of their distortion, are easily adjusted to the angle formed where the deck and the ship's sides meet.
Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more,
· 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 rivu'lets to thy root; Thou temptest none, but rather much forbidd'st The feller's toil, which thou could'st ill requite. Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock, A quarry of stout spurs, and knotted fangs, Which, crook'd 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, Tho' all the superstructure, by the tooth Pulveriz’d of venality, a shell Stands now and semblance only of itself !
Thine arms have left thee. Winds have torn
them off Long since, and rovers of the forest wild, .
With bow and shaft, have burnt them. Some have left
. But since, although well qualify’d by age
One man alone, the father of us all,