Page images

“The human arm and human tool
Have done their duty well!
But after sound of ringing axe
Must sound the ringing knell;
When elm or oak
Have felt the stroke
My turn it is to fell.

“No passive unregarded tree,
A senseless thing of wood,

Wherein the sluggish sap ascends
To swell the vernal bud —

But conscious, moving, breathing trunks,
That throb with living blood!

“No forest monarch yearly clad
In mantle green or brown;
That unrecorded lives, and falls
By hand of rustic clown —
But kings who don the purple robe,
And wear the jewelled crown.

“Ah! little recks the royal mind,
Within his banquet hall,

While tapers shine, and music breathes,
And beauty leads the ball, -

He little recks the oaken plank
Shall be his palace wall!

“Ah, little dreams the haughty peer,
The while his falcon flies —

Or on the blood-bedabbled turf
The antlered quarry dies —

That in his own ancestral park
The narrow dwelling lies.

“But haughty peer and mighty king
One doom shall overwhelm
The oaken cell
Shall lodge him well
Whose sceptre ruled a realm —
While he who never knew a home
Shall find it in the elm I

“The tattered, lean, dejected wretch,
Who begs from door to door,

And dies within the cressy ditch,
Or on the barren moor,

The friendly elm shall lodge and clothe
That houseless man and poor!

“Yea, this recumbent, ragged trunk,
That lies so long and prone,

With many a fallen acorn-cup,
And mast and firry cone—

This rugged trunk shall hold its share
Of mortal flesh and bone!

*A miser hoarding heaps of gold,
But pale with ague-fears—

A wife lamenting love's decay,
With secret, cruel tears,

Distilling bitter, bitter drops
From sweets of former years—

“A man within whose gloomy mind
Offence had darkly sunk,

Who out of fierce Revenge's cup
Hath madly, darkly drunk—

Grief, Avarice, and Hate shall sleep
Within this very trunk

*This massy trunk that lies along,
And many more must fall —
For the very knave
Who digs the grave,
The man who spreads the pall,
And he who tolls the funeral bell,
The elm shall have them all !

“The tall abounding elm that grows
In hedge-rows up and down:

In field and forest, copse and park,
And in the peopled town,

With colonies of noisy rooks
That nestle on its crown.

“And well the abounding elm may grow
In field and hedge so rise, -
In forest, copse, and wooded park,
And 'mid the city's strife,
For every hour that passes by
Shall end a human life!”

The phantom ends: the shade is gone;
The sky is clear and bright;

On turf, and moss, and fallen tree,
There glows a ruddy light;

And bounding through the golden fern
The rabbit comes to bite.

The thrush’s mate beside her sits
And pipes a merry lay;
The dove is in the evergreens;
And on the larch's spray
The fly-bird flutters up and down,
To catch its tiny prey.

The gentle hind and dappled fawn
Are coming up the glade;

Each harmless furred and feathered thing
Is glad, and not afraid —

But on my saddened spirit still
The shadow leaves a shade.

A secret, vague, prophetic gloom,
As though by certain mark

I knew the fore-appointed tree
Within whose rugged bark

This warm and living frame shall find
Its narrow house and dark.

That mystic tree which breathed to me
A sad and sołemn sound,

That sometimes murmured overhead,
And sometimes underground;

Within that shady avenue
Where lofty elms abound.


"TWAS in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,

And four and twenty happy boys
Came bounding out of school:

There were some that ran, and some that leapt
Like troutlets in a pool.

Away they sped with gamesome minds
And souls untouched by sin;

To a level mead they came, and there
They drawe the wickets in :

Pleasantly shone the setting sun
Over the town of Lynn.

Like sportive deer they coursed about,
And shouted as they ran, –

Turning to mirth all things of earth,
As only boyhood can ;

But the Usher sat remote from all,
A melancholy man!

His hat was off, his west apart, To catch heaven's blesséd breeze; For a burning thought was in his brow, - And his bosom ill at ease : So he leaned his head on his hands, and read The book between his knees |

Leaf after leaf he turned it o'er,
Nor ever glanced aside,

For the peace of his soul he read that book
In the golden eventide:

Much study had made him very lean,
And pale, and leaden-eyed.

At last he shut the ponderous tome;
With a fast and fervent grasp

He strained the dusky covers close,
And fixed the brazen hasp :

“O, God! could I so close my mind,
And clasp it with a clasp!”

Then leaping on his feet upright,
Some moody turns he took —

« PreviousContinue »