The tree

by Jed Foland

Romulus final_Page_20_Image_0002

In ye woods and medowes liv’d a Mayd who ƒang beneathe my leaves. ƒhe ƒigh’d her ƒoule toward ye workes of Men and dranke the Deaw from the graƒse amidƒte the Trees. How I lov’d to hear those ƒonges of myrthe ƒhe ƒang most paƒsionatly. ƒomething they awoke in me, those midƒommer’s dais when Phœbus rode acroƒs the ƒkye. Or in the nighte when ƒhe ƒang to the moone, the ƒtarres and me. Now happely do I recalle and cheriƒhe that mellodie, when once ƒhe lay downe beneathe my leaves.

And my færie Mayd aƒk’d “Why doƒt thou ne’er ƒpeake to me?
But answer’d I not. Anon, in autumne I chang’d a ƒcarlet-colou’rd for thee.
And once my faerie Mayd aƒk’d of me “Why rage you not
or ƒtyr with aynger at your conƒtantƒy? For you are rootted and unchang’d
tho’ the world is changing sudd’nly.”

Indeed the men came in their boates with their axes
and they clambred betwixt thee and me.
And I confess that I offr’d my shayde to them as I had giv’n it once to thee,
tho’ they cut my brothers from the wood
and sawed their trunks to make shippes a’ sail upon the sea
And I styred not, nor raised a limb
‘til they came near and nearer my belov’d and me
Where did you go my lov’d Maid? I would have followed thee,
for these men have come as you say’d they would
and diminyshed your fair oak tree.
They did burne my branches and sapped my pitche
and usurpt my rootes, my leaves, my canopy.
I who was rooted and unchang’d.
Now the world is changing suddenly.

But you gave me no answer. You never appeared,
these men they don’t understand poetry.
In autumn I wept for I no longer changed
that beautiful dark red colour.
But like a leaf that is carried by storm
I am set to sail both windward and lee.
And now engines roar beneath my boards
to carry me far from my beloved lady.
And I have forgotten the song you once sang
for the world has changed so suddenly.

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