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POEMS.

THE TALKING OAK.

I.

ONCE more the gate behind me falls;
Once more before my face
I see the mouldered Abbey-walls,
That stand within the chace.

II.

Beyond the lodge the city lies,
Beneath its drift of smoke ;
And ah! with what delighted eyes
I turn to yonder oak!

III.

For when my passion first began,

Ere that which in me burned,
The love that makes me thrice a man,
Could hope itself returned;

IV.

To yonder oak within the field
I spoke without restraint,
And with a larger faith appealed
Than Papist unto Saint.

V.

For oft I talked with him apart,
And told him of my choice,
Until he plagiarized a heart,
And answered with a voice.

VI.

Though what he whispered under Heaven
None else could understand;

I found him garrulously given,
A babbler in the land.

VII.

But since I heard him make reply
Is many a weary hour;

'T were well to question him, and try If yet he keeps the power.

VIII.

Hail, hidden to the knees in fern, Broad oak of Sumner-chace, Whose topmost branches can discern The roofs of Sumner-place!

IX.

Say thou, whereon I carved her name, If ever maid or spouse,

As fair as my Olivia, came

To rest beneath thy boughs?

X.

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"O Walter, I have sheltered here Whatever maiden grace

The good old Summers, year by year, Made ripe in Sumner-chace :

XI.

"Old Summers, when the monk was fat,

And, issuing shorn and sleek, Would twist his girdle tight, and pat

The girls upon the cheek,

XII.

"Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence,
And numbered bead, and shrift,
Bluff Harry broke into the spence,
And turned the cowls adrift:

XIII.

"And I have seen some score of those
Fresh faces, that would thrive
When his man-minded offset rose
To chase the deer at five;

XIV.

"And all that from the town would stroll, Till that wild wind made work, In which the gloomy brewer's soul Went by me, like a stork :

XV.

"The slight she-slips of loyal blood,

And others, passing praise, Strait-laced, but all-too-full in bud

For puritanic stays:

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XVI.

"And I have shadowed many a group Of beauties, that were born

In teacup-times of hood and hoop,
Or while the patch was worn;

XVII.

And, leg and arm with love-knots About me leaped and laughed The modish Cupid of the day,

And shrilled his tinsel shaft.

XVIII.

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"I swear (and else Each leaf into a gall)

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This girl, for whom your heart is sick,

Is three times worth them all;

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