Let India boast her spicy trees, whose fruit and gorgeous bloom
by Anonymous British
Give, to each faint and languid breez, its rich and rare perfume;—
Let Portugal and haughty Spain display their orange groves,
And France exult, her vines to train around her trim alcoves—
Old England has a tree as strong, as stately as them all,
As worthy of a minstrel's song in cottage and in hall.
'Tis not the yew-tree, though it lends its greenness to the grave;
Nor willow, though it fondly bends its branches o'er the wave;
Nor birch, although its slender tress be beautifully fair,
As graceful in its loveliness as maiden's flowing hair.
'Tis not the poplar, though its height may from afar be seen;
Nor beech, although its boughs be tipt with leaves of glossy green.
All these are fair, but they may fling their shade unsung by me;
My favourite, and the forest's king, the British Oak shall be !
Its stem, though rough, is stout and sound; its giant branches throw
Their arms in shady blessings round, o'er man and beast below;
Its leaf, though late in spring it shares the zephyr's gentle sigh,
As late and long in autumn, wears a deeper, richer dye.
Type of an honest English heart, it opes not at a breath,
But having opened, plays its part until it sinks in death.
Its acorns, graceful to the sight, are toys to childhood dear;
Its mistletoe, with berries white, adds mirth to Christmas cheer.
And, when we reach life's closing stage, worn out with care or ill,
For childhood, youth, or hoary age, its arms are open still.
But prouder yet its glories shine, when, in a noble form,
It floats upon the heaving brine, and braves the bursting storm;
Or when, to aid the work of love, to some benighted clime
It bears glad tidings from above, of Gospel truths sublime:
Oh! then, triumphant in its might, o'er waters wild and dark,
It seems, in Heaven's approving sight, a second glorious ARK.
Hail then thou forest's honoured king! man's castle on the sea!
Who will, another tree may sing — Old England's Oak for me!