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The City Tree

Isabella Valancy Crawford 1850 (Dublin) – 1887 (Toronto)



I stand within the stony, arid town,
I gaze for ever on the narrow street;
I hear for ever passing up and down,
The ceaseless tramp of feet.

I know no brotherhood with far-lock'd woods,
Where branches bourgeon from a kindred sap;
Where o'er moss'd roots, in cool, green solitudes,
Small silver brooklets lap.

No em'rald vines creep wistfully to me,
And lay their tender fingers on my bark;
High may I toss my boughs, yet never see
Dawn's first most glorious spark.

When to and fro my branches wave and sway,
Answ'ring the feeble wind that faintly calls,
They kiss no kindred boughs but touch alway
The stones of climbing walls.

My heart is never pierc'd with song of bird;
My leaves know nothing of that glad unrest,
Which makes a flutter in the still woods heard,
When wild birds build a nest.

There never glance the eyes of violets up,
Blue into the deep splendour of my green:
Nor falls the sunlight to the primrose cup,
My quivering leaves between.

Not mine, not mine to turn from soft delight
Of wood-bine breathings, honey sweet, and warm;
With kin embattl'd rear my glorious height
To greet the coming storm!

Not mine to watch across the free, broad plains
The whirl of stormy cohorts sweeping fast;
The level, silver lances of great rains,
Blown onward by the blast.

Not mine the clamouring tempest to defy,
Tossing the proud crest of my dusky leaves:
Defender of small flowers that trembling lie
Against my barky greaves.

Not mine to watch the wild swan drift above,
Balanced on wings that could not choose between
The wooing sky, blue as the eye of love,
And my own tender green.

And yet my branches spread, a kingly sight,
In the close prison of the drooping air:
When sun-vex'd noons are at their fiery height,
My shade is broad, and there

Come city toilers, who their hour of ease
Weave out to precious seconds as they lie
Pillow'd on horny hands, to hear the breeze
Through my great branches die.

I see no flowers, but as the children race
With noise and clamour through the dusty street,
I see the bud of many an angel face--
I hear their merry feet.

No violets look up, but shy and grave,
The children pause and lift their chrystal eyes
To where my emerald branches call and wave--
As to the mystic skies.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Isabella Valancy Crawford

Isabella Valancy Crawford was an Irish-born Canadian writer and poet. more…

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