Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
On the Aged Oak at Oakley, Somerset
Henry Alford (1810–1871)
I WAS a young fair tree:
Each spring with quivering green
My boughs were clad; and far
Down the deep vale a light
Shone from me on the eyes        5
Of those who past,—a light
That told of sunny days,
And blossoms, and blue sky;
For I was ever first
Of all the grove to hear        10
The soft voice under ground
Of the warm-working spring;
And ere my brethren stirred
Their sheathéd buds, the kine,
And the kine’s keeper, came        15
Slow up the valley-path,
And laid them underneath
My cool and rustling leaves;
And I could feel them there
As in the quiet shade        20
They stood, with tender thoughts
That past along their life
Like wings on a still lake,
Blessing me; and to God,
The blesséd God, who cares        25
For all my little leaves,
Went up the silent praise;
And I was glad, with joy
Which life of laboring things
Ill knows,—the joy that sinks        30
Into a life of rest.
  Ages have fled since then:
But deem not my pierced trunk
And scanty leafage serves
No high behest; my name        35
Is sounded far and wide;
And in the Providence
That guides the steps of men,
Hundreds have come to view
My grandeur in decay;        40
And there hath passed from me
A quiet influence
Into the minds of men:
The silver head of age,
The majesty of laws,        45
The very name of God,
And holiest things that are,
Have won upon the heart,
Of humankind the more,
For that I stand to meet        50
With vast and bleaching trunk
The rudeness of the sky.

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