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When Kempenfelt went down
With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up,
Once dreaded by our foes !
And mingle with our cup
The tear that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again
Full-charg'd with England's thunder,
And plough the distant main.
But Kempenfelt is gone,
His victories are o'er;
And he and his eight hundred
Shall plough the wave no more.
SURVIVOR sole, and hardly such, of all
That once liv'd here, thy brethren, at my birth,
(Since which I number threescore winters past,)
A shatter'd vet'ran, hollow-trunk'd perhaps,
As now, and with excoriate forks deform,
Relics of ages! could a mind, imbued
With truth from heaven, created thing adore,
I might with rev'rence kneel, and worship thee,
It seems idolatry with some excuse,
When our forefather Druids in their oaks
Imagined sanctity. The conscience, yet
Unpurified by an authentic act
Of amnesty, the meed of blood divine,
Lov'd not the light, but, gloomy, into gloom
Of thickest shades, like Adam after taste
Of fruit proscrib'd, as to a refuge, fled.
Thou wast a bauble once, a cup and ball
Which babes might play with; and the thievish
Seeking her food, with ease might have parloin'd
The auburn nut that held thee, swallowing down
Thy yet close folded latitude of boughs
And all thine embryo vastness at a gulp.
But Fate thy growth decreed; autumnal rains
Beneath thy parent tree mellow'd the soil
Design'd thy cradle; and a skipping deer,
With pointed hoof dibbling the glebe prepar'd
The soft receptacle, in which, secure,
Thy rudiments should sleep the winter through.
So Fancy dreams. Disprove it, if ye can,
Ye reas'ners broad awake, whose busy search
Of argument, employ'd too oft amiss,
Sifts half the pleasures of short life away!
Thou fellst mature; and, in the loamy clod
Swelling with vegetative force instinct,
Didst burn thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins,
Now stars; two lobes, protruding, pair'd exact;
A leaf succeeded, and another leaf,
And, all the elements thy puny growth
Fost'ring propitious, thou becam’st a twig.
Who liv'd when thou wast such? Oh, couldst thou
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees
Oracular, I would not curious ask
The future, best unknown, but, at thy mouth
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past.
By thee I might correct, erroneous oft,
The clock of history, facts and events
Timing more punctual, unrecorded facts
Recov'ring, and mistated setting right-
Desp'rate attempt, till trees shall speak again!
Time made thee what thou wast, king of the
woods; And Time hath made thee what thou art-a cave For owls to roost in. Once thy spreading boughs O'erhung the champaign; and the num'rous flocks That grazd it stood beneath that ample cope Uncrowded, yet safe shelter'd from the storm. No flock frequents thee now. Thou hast outliv'd Thy popularity, and art become (Unless verse rescue thee awhile) a thing Forgotten, as the foliage of thy youth.
While thus through all the stages thou hast push'd Of treeship-first a seedling, hid in grass ; Then twig; then sapling; and, as cent'ry roll'd Slow after century, a giant-bulk Of girth enormous, with moss-cushion'd root Upheav'd above the soil, and sides emboss'd
With prominent wens globosetill at the last
The rottenness, which time is charg'd to inflict
On other mighty ones, found also thee.
What exhibitions various hath the world
Witness'd of mutability in all
That we account most durable below!
Change is the diet on which all subsist,
Created changeable, and change at last
Destroys them. Skies uncertain now the heat
Transmitting cloudless, and the solar beam
Now quenching in a boundless sea of clouds
Calm and alternate storm, moisture and drought,
Invigorate by turns the springs of life
In all that live, plant, animal, and man,
And in conclusion mar them. Nature's threads,
Fine passing thought, e'en in her coarsest works,
Delight in agitation, yet sustain
The force that agitates not unimpair'd;
But, worn by frequent impulse, to the cause
Of their best tone their dissolution owe.
Thought cannot spend itself, comparing still The great and little of thy lot, thy growth From almost nullity into a state Of matchless grandeur, and declension thence, Slow, into such magnificent decay. Time was, when, settling on thy leaf, a-fly Could shake thee to the rootmand time has been When tempests could not. At thy firmest age Thou hadet within thy bole solid contents That might have ribb'd the sides and plank'd the deck
Of some flagg'd admiral; and tortuous arms,
The shipwright's darling treasure, didst present
To the four-quarter'd winds, robust and bold,
Warp'd into tough knee-timber, many a load!
But the ax spar'd thee. In those thriftier days
Oaks fell not, héwn by thousands, to supply
The bottomless demands of contest wag'd
For senatorial honours. Thus to Time
The task was left to whittle thee away
With his sly scythe, whose ever-nibbling edge,
Noiseless, an atom, and an atom more,
Disjoining from the rest, has, unobserv’d,
Achiev'd a labour which had, fár and wide,
By man perform'd, made all the forest ring.
Embowell'd now, and of thy ancient self
Possessing nought but the scoop'd rind that seems
An huge throat calling to the clouds for drink,
Which it would give in rivulets to thy root,
Thou temptest none, but rather much forbidd'st
The feller's toil, which thou couldst ill requite.
Yet is thy root sincere, sound as the rock,
A quarry of stout spurs and knotted fangs,
Which, crook'd into a thousand whimsies, clasp
The stubborn soil, and hold thee still erect.
So stands a kingdom, whose foundation yet
Fails not, in virtue and in wisdom laid,
Though all the superstructure, by the tooth
Pulveriz'd of venality, a shell
Stands now, and semblance only of itself!