A shady grove, where trees1 in equal space
Did grow, seemed like2 a consecrated place.
Through spreading boughs the3 quivering light broke in,
Much like to glass or crystal shivered thin;
Those pieces small4 on a green carpet strewed, 5
So in this wood the light all broken showed.
Yet5 this disturbèd light the grove did grace,
As sadness doth a fair and beauteous face.
And in the midst an ancient oak stood there,
Which heretofore did many offerings bear,6 10
Whose branches all were hung with relics round,7
To show how many men the gods made sound,8
And for reward,9 long life the gods did give
Unto this oak, that he should aged10 live.
His younger years, when acorns he did bear, 15
No dandruff moss, but fresh11 green leaves grew there,
Which curled hung down12 his shoulders, broad they spread;
His crown was thick, and bushy was his head,
His stature tall, full breasted, broad, and big,
His body round, and straight was every twig. 20
But youth and beauty, which are shadows thin,
Do fade away as if they ne’er had been.
For all his fresh green leaves, and smooth moist rine13
Are quite worn off, and now grown bald with time,14
Whereas before, his arms fought with the wind,15 25
And his bark did, like skin, his body bind.16
Where he all times and seasons firm could17 stand,
And ’gainst all blust’ring storms his face did bend,18
Yet now so weak and feeble he19 doth grow,
That every blast is apt him down to throw. 30
His branches all are seared, his bark grown gray,
Most of his rine with time is peeled away.
The liquid sap, which from the root did spring,20
And to each thirsty bough its food did bring,21
Is all drunk up; there is no moisture left; 35
The root is rotten, and the body22 cleft.
Thus time doth ruin, brings23 all to decay,
Though to the gods we24 still devoutly pray.
For this old oak was sacred to high25 Jove,
Which was the king of all the gods above. 40
But gods, when they created all at first,26
They did ordain all should return27 to dust.
- where trees] trees grew 1653
- Did grow, seemed like] Which seem’d to be 1653
- the] their 1653
- Those pieces small] Which, when it is 1664, 1668
- Yet] But 1653
- In the 1653 edition, a marginal note by line 10 reads “It was a custom in ancient time to hang their offerings on trees.” In 1664 and 1668 the note is identical except “time” is “times”.
- Whose branches all were hung with relics round,] Where all the branches round with reliques hung, 1653
- how many men the gods made sound,] what cares the Gods for men had done: 1653
- reward,] rewards, 1653
- he should aged] aged he must 1653
- fresh] all 1664, 1668
- Which curled hung down] There curled hung 1653
- fresh green leaves, and smooth moist rine] Leaves and Smooth moist Rine was gone, 1664; Leaves, and smooth moist Rine was gone; 1668
- Are quite worn off, and now grown bald with time,] And he himself with Time all Bald was Grown; 1664; And he himself, with Time, all Bald was grown: 1668
- Whereas before, his arms fought with the wind,] His armes so strong, which grappl’d with the winds, 1653
- And his bark did, like skin, his body bind.] His barke so thick, as skin, his body binds; 1653
- all times and seasons firm could] could Firm in all the Seasons stand, 1664; could firm in all the Seasons stand; 1668
- ’gainst all blust’ring storms his face did bend,] many a blust’ring storme he over-came. 1653
- Yet now so weak and feeble he] He now by Age so Feebl’ and Weak 1664; He now, by Age, so feebl’ and weak 1668
- spring,] rise, 1653
- And to each thirsty bough its food did bring,] (Where every thirsty bough it did suffice) 1653
- the body] his body’s 1653
- brings] ’nd brings 1664; and brings 1668
- we] doth 1653
- high] Great 1664; great 1668
- all at first,] things, they must, 1664; things, They must, 1668
- They did ordain all should return] Said they, all Dye at last, and turn 1664; (Said they) all dye at last, and turn 1668