The Great War

from Late Songs, an electronic edition

The Tree

Think of her when she shall be dead

As of a kindly tree

Within whose boughs some nests were made

For downy babes to be.

Through sun and shade on the greensward

Her songs went up in praise

Who mused upon the forest's Lord

Through all her length of days.

No king of woodland she, but just

A small tree, low and wide,

By which some faint from heat and dust

Sat down well satisfied.

Say that she had a well to keep

Where all might drink their fill,

Say that she comforted with sleep

The sorefoot traveller still.

Say that the creatures came to graze,

And lay in pastures cool

Beside the pleasant water-ways,

And her content was full.

Say that her pleasant maze of shade

Soothed the aching eyes

Like dew upon the heavy head

Under the throbbing skies.

Say that her birds were never far

But they came home again

And in her branches singing were

Despite the snow and rain.

Say that in Spring her boughs were green,

The joy ran in her blood,

That Summer clad her like a Queen

Under a velvet hood.

But say that when her Autumn came

Her best was yet to be:

She clad herself in gold and flame

Like to a Burning Tree.

Say that she feared no Winter white

In whose thin boughs did swing

The moon, the stars, for a lantern bright

To light the feet of Spring.

Say that her head was never bowed

Though trouble might befall,

The bird in her heart sang low and loud

And made amends for all.

Say that in fine, her spring beside

She was merry and gave grace.

And some were sorry when she died

Who lost a resting place.