Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford


 

THE CITY TREE.


 

I stand within the stony, arid town,
    I gaze for ever on the narrow street;
I hear for ever passing up and down,
    The ceaseless tramp of feet.

I know no brotherhood with far-lock’d woods,
5
    Where branches bourgeon from a kindred sap;
Where o’er moss’d roots, in cool, green solitudes,
    Small silver brooklets lap.

No em’rald vines creep wistfully to me,
    And lay their tender fingers on my bark;
10
High may I toss my boughs, yet never see
    Dawn’s first most glorious spark. [Page 155]

When to and fro my branches wave and sway,
    Answ’ring the feeble wind that faintly calls,
They kiss no kindred boughs but touch always
15
    The stones of climbing walls.

My heart is never pierc’d with song of bird;
    My leaves know nothing of that glad unrest,
Which makes a flutter in the still woods heard,
    When wild birds build a nest.
20

There never glance the eyes of violets up,
    Blue into the deep splendour of my green:
Nor falls the sunlight to the primrose cup,
    My quivering leaves between.

Not mine, not mine to turn from soft delight
25
    Of wood-bine breathings, honey sweet, and warm;
With kin embattl’d rear my glorious height
    To greet the coming storm!

Not mine to watch across the free, broad plains
    The whirl of stormy chorts sweeping fast;
30
The level, silver lances of great rains,
    Blown onward by the blast.

Not mine the clamouring tempest to defy,
    Tossing the proud crest of my dusky leaves:
Defender of small flowers that trembling lie
35
    Against my barky greaves.

Not mine to watch the wild swan drift above,
    Balanced on wings that could not choose between
The wooing sky, blue as the eye of love,
    And my own tender green. [Page 156]
40

And yet my branches spread, a kingly sight,
    In the close prison of the drooping air:
When sun-vex’d noons are at their fiery height,
    My shade is broad, and there

Come city toilers, who their hour of ease
45
    Weave out to precious seconds as they lie
Pillow’d on horny hands, to hear the breeze
    Through my great branches die.

I see no flowers, but as the children race
    With noise and clamour through the dusty street,
50
I see the bud of many an angel face—
    I hear their merry feet.

No violets look up, but shy and grave,
    The children pause and lift their chrystal eyes
To where my emerald branches call and wave—
55
    As to the mystic skies. [Page 157]