1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Noel Clarke Mundy

Erasmus Darwin, "Address to the Swilcar Oak" European Magazine 37 (March 1800) 226.



Gigantic Oak! whose wrinkled form hath stood
Age after age, the patriarch of the wood!
Thou, who hast seen a thousand springs unfold
Their ravel'd buds, and dip their flowers in gold;
Ten thousand times yon moon re-light her horn,
And that bright star of evening gild the morn!

Erst, when the Druid bards, with silver hair,
Pour'd round thy trunk the melody of prayer;
When chiefs and heroes join'd the kneeling throng,
And choral virgins trill'd the adoring song;
While harps responsive rung amid the glade
And holy echoes thrill'd thy vaulted shade,
Say, did such dulcet notes arrest thy gales,
As MUNDY pours along the listening vales?

Gigantic OAK — thy hoary head sublime
Ere while must perish in the wrecks of time;
Should round thy brow innocuous lightnings shoot,
And no fierce whirlwinds shake thy stedfast root;
Yet shalt thou fall! — thy leafy tresses fade,
And those bare shatter'd antlers strew the glade;
Arm after arm shall leave the mouldering bust,
And thy firm fibres crumble into dust!

But MUNDY'S verse shall consecrate thy name,
And rising forests envy SWILCAR'S fame;
Green shall thy gems expand, thy branches play,
And bloom for ever in the immortal lay.