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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.


Henry Luttrell (1765?–1851)

A BARD, dear muse, unapt to sing,

Your friendly aid beseeches.

Help me to touch the lyric string,

In praise of Burnham-beeches.

What tho’ my tributary lines

Be less like Pope’s than Creech’s,

The theme, if not the poet, shines,

So bright are Burnham-beeches.

O’er many a dell and upland walk,

Their silvan beauty reaches,

Of Birnam-wood let Scotland talk,

While we’ve our Burnham-beeches.

Oft do I linger, oft return,

(Say, who my taste impeaches)

Where holly, juniper, and fern,

Spring up round Burnham-beeches.

Tho’ deep embower’d their shades among,

The owl at midnight screeches,

Birds of far merrier, sweeter song,

Enliven Burnham-beeches.

If ‘sermons be in stones,’ I’ll bet

Our vicar, when he preaches,

He’d find it easier far to get

A hint from Burnham-beeches.

Their glossy rind here winter stains,

Here the hot solstice bleaches.

Bow, stubborn oaks! bow, graceful planes!

Ye match not Burnham-beeches.

Gardens may boast a tempting show

Of nectarines, grapes, and peaches,

But daintiest truffles lurk below

The boughs of Burnham-beeches.

Poets and painters, hither hie,

Here ample room for each is

With pencil and with pen to try

His hand at Burnham-beeches.

When monks, by holy Church well schooled,

Were lawyers, statesmen, leeches,

Cured souls and bodies, judged or ruled,

Then flourished Burnham-beeches.

Skirting the convent’s walls of yore,

As yonder ruin teaches,

But shaven crown and cowl no more

Shall darken Burnham-beeches.

Here bards have mused, here lovers true

Have dealt in softest speeches,

While suns declined, and, parting, threw

Their gold o’er Burnham-beeches.

O ne’er may woodman’s axe resound,

Nor tempest, making breaches

In the sweet shade that cools the ground

Beneath our Burnham-beeches.

Hold! tho’ I’d fain be jingling on,

My power no further reaches—

Again that rhyme? enough—I’ve done,

Farewell to Burnham-beeches.