Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, by William Wordsworth

The Oak and the Broom

A Pastoral.

His simple truths did Andrew glean

Beside the babbling rills;

A careful student he had been

Among the woods and hills.

One winter’s night when through the Trees

The wind was thundering, on his knees

His youngest born did Andrew hold:

And while the rest, a ruddy quire

Were seated round their blazing fire,

This Tale the Shepherd told.

I saw a crag, a lofty stone

As ever tempest beat!

Out of its head an Oak had grown,

A Broom out of its feet.

The time was March, a chearful noon —

The thaw-wind with the breath of June

Breath’d gently from the warm South-west;

When in a voice sedate with age

This Oak, half giant and half sage,

His neighbour thus address’d.

“Eight weary weeks, thro’ rock and clay,

Along this mountain’s edge

The Frost hath wrought both night and day,

Wedge driving after wedge.

Look up, and think, above your head

What trouble surely will be bred;

Last night I heard a crash —’tis true,

The splinters took another road —

I see them yonder — what a load

For such a Thing as you!”

You are preparing as before

To deck your slender shape;

And yet, just three years back — no more —

You had a strange escape.

Down from yon Cliff a fragment broke,

It came, you know, with fire and smoke

And hither did it bend its way.

This pond’rous block was caught by me,

And o’er your head, as you may see,

’Tis hanging to this day.

The Thing had better been asleep,

Whatever thing it were,

Or Breeze, or Bird, or fleece of Sheep,

That first did plant you there.

For you and your green twigs decoy

The little witless Shepherd-boy

To come and slumber in your bower;

And trust me, on some sultry noon,

Both you and he, Heaven knows how soon!

Will perish in one hour.

“From me this friendly warning take”—

— The Broom began to doze,

And thus to keep herself awake

Did gently interpose.

“My thanks for your discourse are due;

That it is true, and more than true,

I know and I have known it long;

Frail is the bond, by which we hold

Our being, be we young or old,

Wise, foolish, weak or strong.”

Disasters, do the best we can,

Will reach both great and small;

And he is oft the wisest man,

Who is not wise at all.

For me, why should I wish to roam?

This spot is my paternal home,

It is my pleasant Heritage;

My Father many a happy year

Here spread his careless blossoms, here

Attain’d a good old age.

Even such as his may be may lot.

What cause have I to haunt

My heart with terrors? Am I not

In truth a favor’d plant!

The Spring for me a garland weaves

Of yellow flowers and verdant leaves,

And, when the Frost is in the sky,

My branches are so fresh and gay

That You might look on me and say

This plant can never die.

The butterfly, all green and gold,

To me hath often flown,

Here in my Blossoms to behold

Wings lovely as his own.

When grass is chill with rain or dew,

Beneath my shade the mother ewe

Lies with her infant lamb; I see

The love, they to each other make,

And the sweet joy, which they partake,

It is a joy to me.

Her voice was blithe, her heart was light;

The Broom might have pursued

Her speech, until the stars of night

Their journey had renew’d.

But in the branches of the Oak

Two Ravens now began to croak

Their nuptial song, a gladsome air;

And to her own green bower the breeze

That instant brought two stripling Bees

To feed and murmur there.

One night the Wind came from the North

And blew a furious blast,

At break of day I ventur’d forth

And near the Cliff I pass’d.

The storm had fall’n upon the Oak

And struck him with a mighty stroke,

And whirl’d and whirl’d him far away;

And in one hospitable Cleft

The little careless Broom was left

To live for many a day.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02