Hoarsely to the midnight moon
Voiced the oak his rugged rune:
"Harken, sibyl Moon, to me;
Hear the saga of the Tree.
"Thou, O queen of splendor, must
Pale and crumble back to dust;
Through slow eons diest thou,—
Doomsday craves my vitals now.
"I am scion of a line
Old, imperial, divine;
Earth produced my ancestor
Ere great Odin, was or Thor.
"From the hursts of holy oak
Fateful gods of Asgard spoke;
In the consecrated shade
Bard and Druid sang and prayed.
"Fostered in an oaken womb
Slept Trifingus, sword of doom;
Therewith woaded Caratak
Drave the steel-sarked Roman back.
"Where, profaned by legioned foes,
In the shuddering forest rose
Mona's altars flaming rud,
Britain drowned her woe in blood.
"Then the dread decree of Norn
Sounded in the groves forlorn;
Vikings swooping from the North
Harried every scaur and forth.
"Forests fell with crash and roar,
Masted galiots spurned the shore,
Dragon-breasted,—swum the meer,
Daring danger, scouting fear.
"Hengist's brood and Horsa's kin,
Seed of Garmund, sons of Finn,
Dane and Saxon sail and sweep
Battling o'er the wrathful deep;
"Hearts of oak! their valor gave
Right of might to rule the wave,
Gave to Nelson's ocean war
"Bray of trumpet! roll of drum!
When shall Balder's kingdom come?
Bitter sap shall when grow sweet
In the acorn at my feet?
"Centuries do I stand here
Thinking thoughts profound and drear,
Dreaming solemn dreams sublime
Of the mysteries of Time.
"Roots of mine do feed on graves;
I have eaten bones of braves;
In the ground the learnéd gnomes
Read to me their cryptic tomes.
"Annals treasured in the air
All the past to me declare;
Every wind of heaven brings
Tribute for me on its wings.
"Through my silence proud and lone
Whispers waft from the Unknown;
Musing eld hath second ken—
Moon! the dead shall live again.
"Sun-scorch have I borne, and pangs
From the gnaw of winter's fangs;
Fought tornadoes, nor forsook
Roothold when the mountains shook.
"Oft the zig-zag thunder hath
Struck me with his fiery scath,—
To my core the havoc sped,
Yet I never bowed my head.
"I am weary of the years;
Overthrown are all my peers,
Slain by steel or storm or flame,—
I would perish too—the same.
"Yet shall I a little space
Linger still in life's embrace
Ere metempsychosing time
Drag me down to Niflheim.
"Wherefore shun or summon fate?
Wisest they who sanely wait;
In my fiber nature saith,
Life is good and good is death.
"Mated birds of procreant Spring
In my branches build and sing;
Grass is green and flowers bloom
Where I spread my golden gloom;
"Happy children round me play;
Plighted lovers near me stray;
Insects chirping in the night
Thrill me with obscure delight;
"Circling seasons as they run,
Couriers of the lavish sun,
Dower me with treasure lent
By each potent element;
"Ministers to me the whole
Zonéd globe from pole to pole;
In my buds and blossoms beat
Pulses from the central heat;—
"Everything is part of me,
Firmament and moving sea;
I of all that is am part,
Stone and star and human heart.
"Primal Cause etern, self-wrought,
Majesty transcending thought,
This my substance and my soul,
Origin, desire, and goal.
"Through creation's vasty range
Blows the winter blast of change;
Leaf-like from the Life-Tree whirled
World shall rot on ruined world.
"Hail, inexorable hour
Fraught with clysmian wrack and stour
Welcome, transmutation's course
And the cosmic rage of Force.
"Yond the atomed universe
Now we gather, now disperse,—
Unto darkling chaos tost,
Back from the chaos—nothing lost.
"Forth abysmal voids of death
Flaming ether, quickened clod,
Bodying new forms of God.
"Harken, Moon!—When I am gone,
I, re-born, shall burgeon on;
Out thine ashes shall arise
Other Thou, to ride the skies."
Spake no more the hoary oak;
No response the wan moon spoke;
But the poet who had heard
Pondered the Dodonian word.