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The Holly-Tree


The sunshine drapes your limbs with light,

The rain braids diamonds in your hair,
The breeze makes love to you at night,

But still you droop, and still despair.

Beneath your boughs, at fall of dew,

By lovers' lips is softly told
The tale that, all the ages through,

Has kept the world from growing old.

But still, though April's buds unfold,

Or Summer sets the earth aleaf,
Or Autumn pranks your robes with gold,

You sway and sigh in graceful grief.

Mourn on forever, unconsoled,

And keep your secret, faithful tree;
No heart in all the world can hold
A sweeter grace than constancy.

Elizabeth Akers (1832–1911)


O READER! hast thou ever stood to see

The Holly-tree?
The eye that contemplates it well perceives

Its glossy leaves
Ordered by an Intelligence so wise
As might confound the Atheist's sophistries.

Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen,

Wrinkled and keen;
No grazing cattle, through their prickly round,

Can reach to wound;
But, as they grow where nothing is to fear,
Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear.

I love to view these things with curious eyes,

And moralize;

And in this wisdom of the Holly-tree

Can emblem see
Wherewith, perchance, to make a pleasant rhyme,-
One which may profit in the after-time.

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Thus, though abroad, perchance, I might appear

Harsh and austere;
To those who on my leisure would intrude,

Reserved and rude;
Gentle at home amid my friends I'd be,
Like the high leaves upon the Holly-tree.

And should my youth-as youth is apt, I know,

Some harshness show,
All vain asperities I, day by day,

Would wear away,
Till the smooth temper of my age should be
Like the high leaves upon the Holly-tree.

And as, when all the summer trees are seen

So bright and green,
The Holly-leaves their fadeless hues display

Less bright than they;
But when the bare and wintry woods we see,
What then so cheerful as the Holly-tree?

So, serious should my youth appear among

The thoughtless throng;
So would I seem, amid the young and gay,

More grave than they;
That in my age as cheerful I might be
As the green winter of the Holly-tree.

Robert Southey (1774-1843]


THE elm lets fall its leaves before the frost,

The very oak grows shivering and sere,
The trees are barren when the summer's lost:

But one tree keeps its goodness all the year.

“Woodman, Spare That Tree" 1365

Green pine, unchanging as the days go by,
Thou art thyself beneath whatever sky:

My shelter from all winds, my own strong pine,
'Tis spring, 'tis summer, still, while thou art mine.

Augusta Webster (1837–1894)


WOODMAN, spare that tree!

Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,

And I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand

That placed it near his cot;
There, woodman, let it stand,

Thy axe shall harm it not!

That old familiar tree,

Whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea, -

And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!

Cut not its earth-bound ties;
O, spare that agèd oak,

Now towering to the skies!

When but an idle boy

I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy

Here, too, my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;

My father pressed my hand-
Forgive this foolish tear,

But let that old oak stand!

My heart-strings round thee cling,

Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,

And still thy branches bend.

Old tree! the storm still brave!

And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I've a hand to save,
Thy axe shall harm it not.

George Pope Morris (1802–1864]



O LEAVE this barren spot to me!
Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!
Though bush or floweret never grow
My dark unwarming shade below;
Nor summer bud perfume the dew
Of rosy blush, or yellow hue;
Nor fruits of autumn, blossom-born,
My green and glossy leaves adorn;
Nor murmuring tribes from me derive
Th' ambrosial amber of the hive;
Yet leave this barren spot to me:
Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!

Thrice twenty summers I have seen
The sky grow bright, the forest green;
And many a wintry wind have stood
In bloomless, fruitless solitude,
Since childhood in my pleasant bower
First spent its sweet and sportive hour;
Since youthful lovers in my shade
Their vows of truth and rapture made,
And on my trunk's surviving frame
Carved many a long-forgotten name.
Oh! by the sighs of gentle sound,
First breathed upon this sacred ground;
By all that Love has whispered here,
Or Beauty heard with ravished ear;
As Love's own altar honor me:
Spare, woodman, spare the beechen tree!

Thomas Campbell [1777-1844)

The Planting of the Apple-Tree 1367


The poplars are felled; farewell to the shade;
And the whispering sound of the cool colonnade;
The winds play no longer and sing in the leaves,
Nor Ouse on his bosom their image receives.


Twelve years have elapsed since I first took a view
Of my favorite field, and the bank where they grew;
And now in the grass behold they are laid,
And the tree is my seat that once lent me a shade.

The blackbird has fled to another retreat,
Where the hazels afford him a screen from the heat;
And the scene where his melody charmed me before
Resounds with his sweet-flowing ditty no more.

My fugitive years are all hasting away,
And I must ere long lie as lowly as they,
With a turf on my breast and a stone at my head,
Ere another such grove shall arise in its stead.

'Tis a sight to engage me, if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Though his life be a dream, his enjoyments, I see,
Have a being less durable even than he.

William Cowper (1731-1800]


Come, let us plant the apple-tree.
Cleave the tough greensward with the spade;
Wide let its hollow bed be made;
There gently lay the roots, and there
Sift the dark mould with kindly care,

And press it o'er them tenderly,
As, round the sleeping infant's feet,
We softly fold the cradle-sheet;

So plant we the apple-tree.

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