Pastorale: Ode on a Resolute Quercus

An agéd Quercus stands in the withered field
Round about whose august feet
Springs a crowd of poppies red as April
And in May, the wheeling junebugs get drunk off their wine

It has stood there for centuries and will yield
Neither to autumn’s wheedling nor January’s bitter sleet
It is thus an image of unyielding mettle, titanic will
Against the stark death of the yellowed fields and broken vine

In October, children from the village wield
An unending bunting round the encircling street
And gird its feet with a vast table set on a broad sill
Around which they gather on the autumn nights to dine

On such nights, seen under the light of the fire its arms shield
One can glean from it many mysteries, the Great Secret —
One can glean the purpose life has given him to fulfill
On such nights the elder frame of the Quercus seems almost Divine

But now, after many centuries of persistent being,
And standing against a final winter’s chill
The Quercus is surrendering its resolute will
Though its stalwart frame will remain here ever-still


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