The Shepherd's Tree

I'm sure we all know such wonderful trees as the elm that Clare here immortalises in verse in this early poem:

Huge elm, with rifted trunk all notched and scarred,
Like to a warrior's destiny!
I love To stretch me often on thy shadowed sward,
And hear the laugh of summer leaves above;
Or on thy buttressed roots to sit, and lean
In careless attitude, and there reflect
On times, and deeds, and darings that have been --
Old castaways, now swallowed in neglect;
While thou art towering in thy strength of heart,
Stirring the soul to vain imaginings,
In which life's sordid being hath no part.
The wind of that eternal ditty sings,
Humming of future things, that burn the mind
To leave some fragment of itself behind.

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