Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Yew Trees
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
THERE is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore:
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Umfraville or Percy ere they marched        5
To Scotland’s heaths; or those that crossed the sea
And drew their sounding bows at Azincour,
Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary Tree! a living thing        10
Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;        15
Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;
Nor uninformed with Phantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane;—a pillared shade,        20
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially—beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked
With unrejoicing berries—ghostly Shapes        25
May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton
And Time the Shadow;—there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o’er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,        30
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara’s inmost caves.
(1803.)    
 
 
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