Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

On A Great Hollow Tree

Written by: William Strode | Biography
 Preethee stand still awhile, and view this tree
Renown'd and honour'd for antiquitie
By all the neighbour twiggs; for such are all
The trees adjoyning, bee they nere so tall,
Comparde to this: if here Jacke Maypole stood
All men would sweare 'twere but a fishing rodde.
Mark but the gyant trunk, which when you see You see how many woods and groves there bee Compris'd within one elme.
The hardy stocke Is knotted like a clubb, and who dares mocke His strength by shaking it? Each brawny limbe Could pose the centaure Monychus, or him That wav'de a hundred hands ere hee could wield That sturdy waight, whose large extent might shield A poore man's tenement.
Greate Ceres' oake Which Erisichthon feld, could not provoke Halfe so much hunger for his punishment As hewing this would doe by consequent.
Nothing but age could tame it: Age came on, And loe a lingering consumption Devour'd the entralls, where an hollow cave Without the workman's helpe beganne to have The figure of a Tent: a pretty cell Where grand Silenus might not scorne to dwell, And owles might feare to harbour, though they brought Minerva's warrant for to bear them out In this their bold attempt.
Looke down into The twisted curles, the wreathing to and fro Contrived by nature: where you may descry How hall and parlour, how the chambers lie.
And wer't not strange to see men stand alone On leggs of skinne without or flesh or bone? Or that the selfe same creature should survive After the heart is dead? This tree can thrive Thus maym'd and thus impayr'd: no other proppe, But only barke remayns to keep it uppe.
Yet thus supported it doth firmly stand, Scorning the saw-pitt, though so neere at hand.
No yawning grave this grandsire Elme can fright, Whilst yongling trees are martyr'd in his sight.
O learne the thrift of Nature, that maintaines With needy myre stolne upp in hidden veynes So great a bulke of wood.
Three columes rest Upon the rotten trunke, wherof the least Were mast for Argos.
Th' open backe below And three long leggs alone doe make it shew Like a huge trivett, or a monstrous chayre With the heeles turn'd upward.
How proper, O how fayre A seate were this for old Diogenes To grumble in and barke out oracles, And answere to the Raven's augury That builds above.
Why grew not this strange tree Neere Delphos? had this wooden majesty Stood in Dodona forrest, then would Jove Foregoe his oake, and only this approve.
Had those old Germans that did once admire Deformed Groves; and worshipping with fire Burnt men unto theyr gods: had they but seene These horrid stumps, they canonizde had beene, And highly too.
This tree would calme more gods Than they had men to sacrifice by odds.
You Hamadryades, that wood-borne bee, Tell mee the causes, how this portly tree Grew to this haughty stature? Was it then Because the mummys of so many men Fattned the ground? or cause the neighbor spring Conduits of water to the roote did bring? Was it with Whitsun sweat, or ample snuffes Of my Lord's beere that such a bignesse stuffes And breaks the barke? O this it is, no doubt: This tree, I warrant you, can number out Your Westwell annals, & distinctly tell The progresse of this hundred years, as well By Lords and Ladies, as ere Rome could doe By Consulships.
These boughes can witnesse too How goodman Berry tript it in his youth, And how his daughter Joane, of late forsooth Became her place.
It might as well have grown, If Pan had pleas'd, on toppe of Westwell downe, Instead of that proud Ash; and easily Have given ayme to travellers passing by With wider armes.
But see, it more desirde Here to bee lov'd at home than there admirde: And porter-like it here defends the gate, As if it once had beene greate Askapate.
Had warlike Arthur's dayes enjoy'd this Elme Sir Tristram's blade and good Sir Lancelot's helme Had then bedeckt his locks, with fertile store Of votive reliques which those champions wore: Untill perhaps (as 'tis with great men found) Those burdenous honours crusht it to the ground: But in these merry times 'twere farre more trimme If pipes and citterns hung on every limbe; And since the fidlers it hath heard so long, I'me sure by this time it deserves my song.



Comments