Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
To My Totem
 
Henry Charles Beeching (b. 185–)
 
 
“Sub Tegmine Fagi.”
 
 
THY name of old was great:
  What though sour critics teach
“The beech by the Scæan gate
  Was not indeed a beech,”
That sweet Theocritus        5
  The ilex loved, not thee?—
These are made glorious
  Through thy name, glorious tree.
 
And sure ’t was ’neath thy shade
  Tityrus oft did use        10
(The while his oxen strayed)
  To meditate the Muse.
To thee ’t was Corydon
  (Sad shepherd) did lament
Vain hopes, and violets wan        15
  To fair Alexis sent.
 
Our singers loved thee, too:
  In Chaucer’s liquid verse
Are set thy praises due
  The ages but rehearse;        20
Though later poets bring
  Their homage still, and I
The least of those who sing
  Thy name would magnify.
 
For long ago my sires,        25
  Ere Hengist crossed the sea
To map our English shires,
  Gave up their heart to thee,
And vowed if thou wouldst keep
  Their lives from fire and foe,        30
Thou too shouldst never weep
  The axe’s deadly blow.
 
Thou hast my heart to-day:
  Whether in June I sit
And watch the leaves at play,        35
  The flickering shadows flit;
Or whether, when leaves fall
  And red the autumn mould,
I pace the woodland hall
  Thy stately trunks uphold.        40
 
Thou hast my heart, and here
  In scattered fruit I see
An emblem true and clear
  Of what my heart must be:—
Hard sheath and scanty fare,        45
  Yet forced on every side
To break apart and share
  Small gifts it fain would hide.
 

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