The Oak

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Splendours of sunset burned upon the ground,
As from the lane’s deep shade
Emerging, a warm grassy plat we found
Skirting the forest glade,
And in the midst a solitary oak.
No sound the bright and haunting stillness broke
As we beheld the wonder of this tree,
His shadowy core invaded thick by rays
That kindled the rough trunk, and ardently
Made burn the massy branches, thrusting higher
And wider their strong foliage, knotted sprays
Of tawny and bronze leaves defined in fire.

Silence possessed us pausing, and our eyes
Stayed wondering to behold
In that illumined solitude arise
Those fiery branches old.
It seemed a mighty apparition brought
From far to trouble us; planted beyond thought
And budding calm into a time not ours.
Then, then smote full upon our inmost heart
Its mortal weakness: without bound and vast
Our longing, but our scope brief as the flowers,
That in a season perish and are past.

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