Shakespeare's Oak

Or nobly towering, rank o'er rank, 
Along the gently swelling bank. 
Or in the river glassed — 
It proudly stands, 'mong many more 
Coeval oaks, now as of yore. 
Majestic in repose : 
And maidens fair, knights proud and brave, 
Their plighted troth received and gave 

Beneath its ample boughs, 
See, where pre-eminent it rears 
Its swelling foliage o'er compeers. 
Like patriarchal sage. 
Thus looked the matchless Shakspere, placed 
Among those master-bards, who graced 
Eliza's golden age. 

Our present race it will survive. 
By those who may hereafter live 
In veneration held : 
If by the lightning's stroke unrent, 
Still flourishing, too prominent 
In grandeur to be fell'd 
And youth elate, in sportive mood, 
Outrushing from the deep'ning wood 

That bounds the interspace 
So green, where couch the antler 'd deer. 
Shall strive with laughter-moving cheer 
The giant to embrace. 
How many changes, dark and bright, 
Shadow and smi-burst, has the flight 
Of years around it cast ! 
It flourishes, while things decay 
That had their birth but yesterday, 
It braves the tempest's blast. 

How many hearts shall beat with joy, 
And cease to beat, ere time destroy 
Its storm-defying frame :
How many scenes of weal and woe 
Shall acted be, ere earth will shew 
No vestige of its name. 
This forest-scenery among 
Rise others beautiful and strona: 

Perchance in after times,
As yon untiring sun returns, 
To canopy a bard who mourns 
In meditative rhymes. 
Of their columnar greatness proud, 
Their leafy fulness, like a cloud 
Of verdure to the eye ; 

Outlasting rising hall or tower, 
They unborn Dians will embower. 
As summers onward fly.

Chandos Leigh Esq

© 2014 Stoneleigh Abbey Charitable Trust             Registered Charity No 1058526

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