George Gordon Byron

(22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824 / London, England)

To An Oak At Newstead - Poem by George Gordon Byron

Young Oak! when I planted thee deep in the ground,
I hoped that thy days would be longer than mine;
That thy dark‑waving branches would flourish around,
And ivy thy trunk with its mantle entwine.

Such, such was my hope, when in infancy's
On the land of my fathers I rear'd thee with pride;
They are past, and I water thy stem with my tears,
Thy decay not the weeds that surround thee can hide.

I left thee, my Oak, and, since that fatal hour,
A stranger has dwelt in the hall of my sire;
Till manhood shall crown me, not mine is the power,
But his, whose neglect may have bade thee expire.

Oh! hardy thou went--even now little care
Might revive thy young head, and thy wounds gently heal:
But thou went not fated affection to share--
For who could suppose that a stranger would feel!

Ah, droop not, my Oak! lift thy head for a while;
Ere twice round yon Glory this planet shall run,
The hand of thy Master will teach thee to smile,
When Infancy's years of probation are done.

Oh, live then, my Oak! tow'r aloft from the weeds,
That clog thy young growth, and assist thy decay,
For still in thy bosom are life's early seeds,
And still may thy branches their beauty display.

Oh! yet, if maturity's years may be thine,
Though I shall lie low in the cavern of death,
On thy leaves yet the day‑beam of ages may shine,
Uninjured by time, or the rude winter's breath.

For centuries still may thy boughs lightly wave
O'er the Gorse of thy lord in thy canopy laid;
While the branches thus gratefully shelter his grave,
The chief who survives may recline in thy shade.

And as he, with his boys, shall revisit this spot,
He will tell them is whispers more softly to tread.
Oh! surely, by these I shall ne'er be forgot;
Remembrance still hallows the dust of the dead.

And here, will they say, when in life's glowing prime,
Perhaps he has pour'd forth his young simple lay,
And here must he sleep, till the moments of time
Are lost in the hours of Eternity's day.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, March 25, 2010

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