Hattie Howard Poems >>
The Charter Oak

I seem to see the old tree stand,
   Its sturdy, giant form
  A spectacle remembered, and
  A pilgrim-shrine for all the land
   Before it met the storm.

  Unnumbered gales the tree defied;
   It towered like a king
  Above his courtiers, reaching wide,
  And sheltering scions at its side
   As with protecting wing.

  Revered as one among the trees
   To mark the seasons born,
  To watchful aborigines
  It told by leafy indices
   The time of planting corn.

  The landmark of the past is gone,
   Its site is overgrown;
  A mansion overlooks the lawn
  Where history is traced upon
   A parapet of stone.

  Shall e'er Connecticut forget
   What unto it we owe--
  How Wadsworth coped with Andros' threat,
  And tyranny, in council met,
   Outwitted years ago?

  Aye, but it rouses loyal spunk
   To think of that old tree!
  Its stately stem, its spacious trunk
  By Nature robbed of pith and punk
   To guard our liberty.

  But of the oak long-perished, why
   Is earth forever full?
  For, like the loaf and fish supply,
  Its stock of fiber, tough and dry,
   Seems inexhaustible.

  Rare souvenirs the stranger sees--
   Who never sees a joke--
  And innocently dreams that these,
  From knotty, gnarly, scraggy trees,
   Were once the Charter Oak!