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THE TALKING OAK.
ONCE more the gate behind me falls;
Beyond the lodge the city lies,
For when my passion first began,
Ere that which in me burned,
To yonder oak within the field
For oft I talked with him apart,
Though what he whispered under Heaven
I found him garrulously given,
But since I heard him make reply
'T were well to question him, and try If yet he keeps the power.
Hail, hidden to the knees in fern, Broad oak of Sumner-chace, Whose topmost branches can discern The roofs of Sumner-place!
Say thou, whereon I carved her name, If ever maid or spouse,
As fair as my Olivia, came
To rest beneath thy boughs?
"O Walter, I have sheltered here Whatever maiden grace
The good old Summers, year by year, Made ripe in Sumner-chace :
"Old Summers, when the monk was fat,
And, issuing shorn and sleek, Would twist his girdle tight, and pat
The girls upon the cheek,
"Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence,
"And I have seen some score of those
"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 :
"The slight she-slips of loyal blood,
And others, passing praise, Strait-laced, but all-too-full in bud
For puritanic stays:
"And I have shadowed many a group Of beauties, that were born
In teacup-times of hood and hoop,
And, leg and arm with love-knots About me leaped and laughed The modish Cupid of the day,
And shrilled his tinsel shaft.
"I swear (and else Each leaf into a gall)
This girl, for whom your heart is sick,
Is three times worth them all;