Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Forest

By Michael Drayton (1563–1631)

From “Poly-Olbion”

WAYBRIDGE, a neighboring nymph, the only remnant left

Of all that forest kind, by time’s injurious theft

Of all that tract destroyed, with wood which did abound,

And former times had seen the goodliest forest-ground

This island ever had: but she so left alone,

The ruin of her kind, and no man to bemoan.

The deep-entrancéd flood, as thinking to awake,

Thus from her shady bower she silently bespake:

“O flood in happy plight, which to this time remain’st,

As still along in state to Neptune’s court thou strain’st;

Revive thee with the thought of those forepasséd hours,

When the rough wood-gods kept, in their delightful bowers

On thy embroidered banks, when now this country filled

With villages, and by the laboring ploughman tilled,

Was forest, where the fir and spreading poplar grew.

O, let me yet the thought of those past times renew,

When as that woody kind, in our umbrageous wild,

Whence every living thing save only they exiled,

In this their world of waste the sovereign empire swayed.

O, who would e’er have thought that time could have decayed

Those trees whose bodies seemed by their so massy weight

To press the solid earth, and with their wondrous height

To climb into the clouds, their arms so far to shoot,

As they in measuring were of acres, and their root,

With long and mighty spurns to grapple with the land,

As nature would have said, that they shall ever stand:

So that this place where now this Huntingdon is set,

Being an easy hill where mirthful hunters met,

From that first took the name.”