The Old Oak Tree

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Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough:
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'd protect it now.

-George P. Morris

'Tis living yet! Time has not dared
To mark it, as his own,
Nor claimed one bough, but kindly spared
This giant, firm and lone.
It stands, as stood in years gone by,
The chieftain in its shade,
And breathed the warning, ere the cry
Of war went through the glade.

The Council tires then brightly burned
Beneath its spreading bough,
But oh, alas! the scene has turned,
Where burn those fires now?
The old oak stands where it did then,
The same fresh violets bloom,
But far down in the narrow glen,
They deck the Indian's tomb.

Life then seemed bright and free from care;
When this old tree was young
The Indian maiden twined her hair,
And to her chieftain sung
A song, low, gentle, and sincere,
In pathos rich and rare;
The warrior-lover brushed a tear,
For thought was busy there.

Yes, busy was the fertile brain,
That bid him onward flee,
The Indian moon was on the wane
And drooped the hawthorne tree.
The light canoe of rounded bark
Scarce dared to skim the flood,
For they had come with meaning dark
To ravage lake and wood.


The conflict ended! but the bow
Which twanged across the plain.
Dealt its proud owner death's cold blow,
And laid him with the slain.
But to a better, happier home,
Have gone the Indian braves;
Where cruel white men cannot come,
To call their brothers-slaves.

Then let it stand, that aged oak,
Among its kindred trees;
Tho' now, no more the wigwam smoke
Will curl upon the breeze.
'Tis left alone-the last sad thing
That marks a nation vast,
Then spare it, that its boughs may sing
A requiem to the Past.

© Annie McCarer Darlington