Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
The Oak-tree
By William Barnes (1801–1886)
 
THE GIRT woak tree that ’s in the dell!
Ther ’s noo tree I da love so well;
Var in thik tree, when I wer young,
I of’en climb’d an’ of’en zwung,
An’ pick’d the green-rin’d yacors, shed        5
In wrestlèn storm-winds vrom his head.
An’ down below ’s the cloty 1 brook
Wher I did vish wi’ line an’ hook,
An’ beät, in plâysome dips an’ zwims,
The foamy stream wi’ white-skinn’d lims.        10
An’ there my mother nimbly shot
Her knittèn-needles, as she zot
At evemen down below the wide
Woak’s head, wi’ fther at her zide.
An’ I’ve a-plây’d wi’ many a buoy,        15
That ’s now a man an’ gone awoy;
  Zoo I da like noo tree so well
  ’S the girt woak tree that ’s in the dell.
 
An’ there, in liater years, I roved
Wi’ thik poor mâid I fondly lov’d,—        20
The mâid too fiair to die so soon,—
When evemen twilight, ar the moon,
Drow’d light enough ’ithin the pliace
To show the smiles upon her fiace,
Wi’ eyes so clear ’s the glassy pool,        25
An’ lips an’ cheäks so soft as wool.
There han’ in han’, wi’ bosoms warm,
Wi’ love that burn’d but thought noo harm,
Below thik wide-bough’d tree we past
The happy hours that went too vast:        30
An’ though she’ll never be my wife,
She ’s still my leäden star o’ life.
She ’s gone: an’ she ’ve a-left to me
Her token o’ the girt woak tree;
  Zoo I da love noo tree so well        35
  ’S the girt woak tree that ’s in the dell.
 
An’ O! mid never ax nar hook
Be brote to spwile his stiately look;
Nar ever roun’ his white-rin’d zides
Mid cattle rub ther hiary hides;        40
Nar pigs plow up his turf, but keep
His luonesome shiade var harmless sheep;
An’ let en grow, an’ let en spread,
An’ let en live when I be dead.
But O! ef th shou’d come an’ vell        45
The girt woak tree that ’s in the dell,
An’ build his planks ’ithin the zide
O’ zome girt ship to plow the tide,
Then, life ar death! I’d goo to sea,
A-sâilèn wi’ the girt woak tree:        50
An’ I upon th planks wou’d stand,
An’ die a-fightèn var the land,—
The land so dear,—the land so free,—
The land that bore the girt woak tree;
  Var I da love noo tree so well        55
  ’S the girt woak tree that ’s in the dell.
 
Note 1. cloty.  water-lilied. [back]
 
 
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