The Old Oak Tree
I sit beneath your leaves, old oak,
You mighty one of all the trees;
Within whose hollow trunk a man
Could stable his big horse with ease.
I see your knuckles hard and strong,
But have no fear they'll come to blows;
Your life is long, and mine is short,
But which has known the greater woes?
Thou has not seen starved women here,
Or man gone mad because ill-fed—
Who stares at stones in city streets,
Mistaking them for hunks of bread.
Thou hast not felt the shivering backs
Of homeless children lying down
And sleeping in the cold, night air—
Like doors and walls in London town.
Knowing thou hast not known such shame,
And only storms have come thy way,
Methinks I could in comfort spend
My summer with thee, day by day.
To lie by day in thy green shade,
And in thy hollow rest at night;
And through the open doorway see
The stars turn over leaves of light.
Yes, I will spend the livelong day
With Nature in this month of May;
And sit beneath the trees, and share
My bread with birds whose homes are there;
While cows lie down to eat, and sheep
Stand to their necks in grass so deep;
While birds do sing with all their might,
As though they felt the earth in flight.
This is the hour I dreamed of, when
I sat surrounded by poor men;
And thought of how the Arab sat
Alone at evening, gazing at
The stars that bubbled in clear skies;
And of young dreamers, when their eyes
Enjoyed methought a precious boon
In the adventures of the Moon
Whose light, behind the Clouds' dark bars,
Searched for her stolen flocks of stars.
When I, hemmed in by wrecks of men,
Thought of some lonely cottage then
Full of sweet books; and miles of sea,
With passing ships, in front of me;
And having, on the other hand,
A flowery, green, bird-singing land.