John Freeman

(1880-1929 / England)

Ten O'Clock And Four O'Clock


It stands there
Tall and solitary on the edge
Of the last hill, green on the green hill.
Ten o'clock the tree's called, no one knows why.
Perhaps it was planted there at ten o'clock
Or someone was hanged there at ten o'clock--
A hundred such good reasons might be found,
But no one knows. It vexed me that none knew,
Seeing it miles and miles off and then nearer
And nearer yet until, beneath the hill,
I looked up, up, and saw it nodding there,
A single tree upon the sharp-edged hill,
Holding its leaves though in the orchard all
Leaves and fruit were stripped or hung but few
Red and yellow over the littered grass.
--It vexed me, the brave tree and senseless name,
As I went through the valley looking up
And then looked round on elm and beech and chestnut
And all that lingering flame amid the hedge
That marked the miles and miles.
Then I forgot:
For through the apple-orchard's shadow I saw
Between the dark boughs of the cherry-orchard
A great slow fire which Time had lit to burn
The mortal seasons up, and leave bare black
Unchanging Winter.

_Weston-sub-Edge._

Submitted: Friday, September 24, 2010

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