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

Lorton Vale


By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

THERE is a yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,

Which to this day stands single, in the midst

Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore:

Not loath to furnish weapons for the bands

Of Umfraville or Percy ere they marched

To Scotland’s heaths; or those that crossed the sea

And drew their sounding bows at Azincour,

Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers.

Of vast circumference and gloom profound

This solitary tree! a living thing

Produced too slowly ever to decay;

Of form and aspect too magnificent

To be destroyed. But worthier still of note

Are those fraternal four of Borrowdale,

Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;

Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth

Of intertwisted fibres serpentine

Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;

Nor uninformed with fantasy, and looks

That threaten the profane;—a pillared shade,

Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,

By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged

Perennially,—beneath whose sable roof

Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked

With unrejoicing berries, ghostly shapes

May meet at noontide,—Fear and trembling Hope,

Silence and Foresight; Death the skeleton

And Time the shadow,—there to celebrate,

As in a natural temple scattered o’er

With altars undisturbed of mossy stone,

United worship; or in mute repose

To lie, and listen to the mountain flood

Murmuring from Glaramara’s inmost caves.