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THE TALKING OAK.
ONCE more the gate behind me falls;
I see the mouldered Abbey-walls,
Beyond the lodge the city lies,
And ah! with what delighted eyes
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 None else could understand;
I found him garrulously given,
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.
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,
"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,
"The slight she-slips of loyal blood,
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 gay, About me leaped and laughed
The modish Cupid of the day,
And shrilled his tinsel shaft.
"I swear (and else may insects prick Each leaf into a gall)
This girl, for whom your heart is sick,