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The Vassal's Lament For The Fallen Tree

Felicia Dorothea Hemans 1793 (Liverpool, Lancashire) – 1835 (Dublin, County Dublin)

Yes! I have seen the ancient oak
On the dark deep water cast,
And it was not fell'd by the woodman's stroke,
Or the rush of the sweeping blast;
For the axe might never touch that tree,
And the air was still as a summer-sea.

I saw it fall, as falls a chief
By an arrow in the fight,
And the old woods shook, to their loftiest leaf,
At the crashing of its might!
And the startled deer to their coverts flew,
And the spray of the lake as a fountain's flew!

'Tis fall'n! but think thou not I weep
For the forest's pride o'erthrown;
An old man's tears lie far too deep,
To be pour'd for this alone!
But by that sign too well I know,
That a youthful head must soon be low!

A youthful head, with its shining hair,
And its bright quick-flashing eye-
-Well may I weep! for the boy is fair,
Too fair a thing to die!
But on his brow the mark is set-
Oh! could my life redeem him yet!

He bounded by me as I gazed
Alone on the fatal sign,
And it seem'd like sunshine when he rais'd
His joyous glance to mine!
With a stag's fleet step he bounded by,
So full of life-but he must die!

He must, he must! in that deep dell,
By that dark water's side,
'Tis known that ne'er a proud tree fell,
But an heir of his fathers died.
And he-there's laughter in his eye,
Joy in his voice-yet he must die!

I 've borne him in these arms, that now
Are nerveless and unstrung;
And must I see, on that fair brow,
The dust untimely flung?
I must!-yon green oak, branch and crest,
Lies floating on the dark lake's breast!

The noble boy!-how proudly sprung
The falcon from his hand!
It seem'd like youth to see him young.
A flower in his father's land!

But the hour of the knell and the dirge is nigh,
For the tree hath fall'n, and the flower must die.

Say not 'tis vain!-I tell thee, some
Are warn'd by a meteor's light,
Or a pale bird flitting calls them home,
Or a voice on the winds by night;
And they must go!-and he too, he-
-Woe for the fall of the glorious Tree!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:03 min read
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Felicia Dorothea Hemans

Felicia Dorothea Hemans was an English poet. Two of her opening lines, "The boy stood on the burning deck" and "The stately homes of England", have acquired classic status. more…

All Felicia Dorothea Hemans poems | Felicia Dorothea Hemans Books

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