The Old Oak Tree



I sit beneath your leaves, old oak,
You mighty one of all the trees;
Within whose hollow trunk a man
Could stable his big horse with ease.

I see your knuckles hard and strong,
But have no fear they'll come to blows;
Your life is long, and mine is short,
But which has known the greater woes?

Thou has not seen starved women here,
Or man gone mad because ill-fed—
Who stares at stones in city streets,
Mistaking them for hunks of bread.

Thou hast not felt the shivering backs
Of homeless children lying down
And sleeping in the cold, night air—
Like doors and walls in London town.

Knowing thou hast not known such shame,
And only storms have come thy way,
Methinks I could in comfort spend
My summer with thee, day by day.

To lie by day in thy green shade,
And in thy hollow rest at night;
And through the open doorway see
The stars turn over leaves of light.