I seem to see the old tree stand,
Its sturdy, giant form
A spectacle remembered, and
A pilgrim-shrine for all the land
Before it met the storm.
Unnumbered gales the tree defied;
It towered like a king
Above his courtiers, reaching wide,
And sheltering scions at its side
As with protecting wing.
Revered as one among the trees
To mark the seasons born,
To watchful aborigines
It told by leafy indices
The time of planting corn.
The landmark of the past is gone,
Its site is overgrown;
A mansion overlooks the lawn
Where history is traced upon
A parapet of stone.
Shall e'er Connecticut forget
What unto it we owe -
How Wadsworth coped with Andros' threat,
And tyranny, in council met,
Outwitted years ago?
Aye, but it rouses loyal spunk
To think of that old tree!
Its stately stem, its spacious trunk
By Nature robbed of pith and punk
To guard our liberty.
But of the oak long-perished, why
Is earth forever full?
For, like the loaf and fish supply,
Its stock of fiber, tough and dry,
Rare souvenirs the stranger sees -
Who never sees a joke -
And innocently dreams that these,
From knotty, gnarly, scraggy trees,
Were once the Charter Oak!