Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
John Freeman. 1885–
 
135. Stone Trees
 
LAST night a sword-light in the sky 
Flashed a swift terror on the dark. 
In that sharp light the fields did lie 
Naked and stone-like; each tree stood 
Like a tranced woman, bound and stark.         5
      Far off the wood 
With darkness ridged the riven dark. 
  
And cows astonished stared with fear, 
And sheep crept to the knees of cows, 
And conies to their burrows slid,  10
And rooks were still in rigid boughs, 
And all things else were still or hid. 
      From all the wood 
Came but the owl's hoot, ghostly, clear. 
  
In that cold trance the earth was held  15
It seemed an age, or time was nought. 
Sure never from that stone-like field 
Sprang golden corn, nor from those chill 
Grey granite trees was music wrought. 
      In all the wood  20
Even the tall poplar hung stone still. 
  
It seemed an age, or time was none... 
Slowly the earth heaved out of sleep 
And shivered, and the trees of stone 
Bent and sighed in the gusty wind,  25
And rain swept as birds flocking sweep. 
      Far off the wood 
Rolled the slow thunders on the wind. 
  
From all the wood came no brave bird, 
No song broke through the close-fall'n night,  30
Nor any sound from cowering herd: 
Only a dog's long lonely howl 
When from the window poured pale light. 
      And from the wood 
The hoot came ghostly of the owl.  35
 
 
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