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Thomas Hardy (1840–1928). Wessex Poems and Other Verses. 1898.

39. In a Wood

PALE beech and pine-tree blue,

Set in one clay,

Bough to bough cannot you

Bide out your day?

When the rains skim and skip,

Why mar sweet comradeship,

Blighting with poison-drip

Neighborly spray?

Heart-halt and spirit-lame,


Unto this wood I came

As to a nest;

Dreaming that sylvan peace

Offered the harrowed ease—

Nature a soft release

From men’s unrest.

But, having entered in,

Great growths and small

Show them to men akin—

Combatants all!

Sycamore shoulders oak,

Bines the slim sapling yoke,

Ivy-spun halters choke

Elms stout and tall.

Touches from ash, O wych,

Sting you like scorn!

You, too, brave hollies, twitch

Sidelong from thorn.

Even the rank poplars bear

Illy a rival’s air,

Cankering in black despair

If overborne.

Since, then, no grace I find

Taught me of trees,

Turn I back to my kind,

Worthy as these.

There at least smiles abound,

There discourse trills around,

There, now and then, are found