Sway thy top, thou ancient pine—
Warrior of the storm commanding?
Lone upon the mountain standing,
Whom no ivy’s arms entwine.
Melancholy souls like mine,
’Neath thy shadow passing slow,
Love to hear thy plaintive moan;
’Tis an echo of the woe
Found in human breasts alone.
Mournfully amid the ruins
Of thy fellows standest thou,
Like a column of some temple
Living but in story now;
All around it wildly scattered,
Fallen walls and pillars shattered.
Softly sighing through thy branches
Sounds the wind, with fall and swell;
Now retreats, and now advances,
Rousing fancy with its spell,
Like the melody that chances
On the ear from distant bell,
Or the murmur that entrances
Of the tinted sea-side shell.
Lo! musing on thy loneliness,
Thy brethren seem again to rise;
On every hand a wilderness
Shuts out the prospect of the skies.
’Tis verdure all, and deepest shade. No sound
Disturbs the thoughtful silence, save
A murmur such as rolls through ocean cave,
A rustling of dry leaves upon the ground.
But while I listen with an awe profound,
A glance dispels the visionary wood—
A single tree remains where late ten thousand stood.
– B.P. Avery (1865?)