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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Guernica

The Oak of Guernica

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

  • The ancient oak of Guernica, says Laborde in his account of Biscay, is a most venerable natural monument. Ferdinand and Isabella, in the year 1476, after hearing mass in the church of Santa Maria de la Antigua, repaired to this tree, under which they swore to the Biscayans to maintain their fueros (municipal laws). This tree was cut down by the French in 1808.

  • OAK of Guernica! Tree of holier power

    Than that which in Dodona did enshrine

    (So faith too fondly deemed) a voice divine,

    Heard from the depths of its aerial bower,

    How canst thou flourish at this blighting hour?

    What hope, what joy, can sunshine bring to thee,

    Or the soft breezes from the Atlantic sea,

    The dews of morn, or April’s tender shower?

    Stroke merciful and welcome would that be

    Which should extend thy branches on the ground,

    If nevermore within their shady round

    Those lofty-minded lawgivers shall meet,

    Peasant and lord, in their appointed seat,

    Guardians of Biscay’s ancient liberty.