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From a limited print run of 50
Ancient Walnut Tree at Higham Ferrers
by William Abington

Postcard of the Walnut Tree

Tall watchman standing in the evening-shine,
Above the houses and the traffic's stream,
Still lifting up your litany supreme
Of strength and beauty unto the divine.

O valiant veteran age-long past your prime,
Your glory still remains from days of old;
Your standards in the sun are tinged with gold;
Crusaders fighting holy war in time.

Three centuries have seen you standing there.
The ageless wind has played around your form,
And the spring symphony that greets the morn
Has wakened into life your branches bare.

Three hundred summers dressed your form with green,
Then autumn came to leave you desolate,
Stark boughs the steely heavens contemplate,
And comatose wait for next summer's sheen.

You must remember the coll, bracing rain
After the sky's hot blueness burnt the fields.
The stimulating, urgent rain that yeilds
Cleansing caress to thirsty leaves again.

I watched you in the winter's frosty night
In unclothed lustre clotted deep in snow;
Like an old Norman church with lamps aglow
And overhead a myriad stars bedight.

Wrapt in the twilight haze of autumn's eve -
So short time left - the hours leap into days.
Swiftly my transient life the years erase -
For both the reaper waits, there's no reprieve!

Now for the exultation of the Spring
Brief span is left for me: who knows, who knows
If I shall see again the damask rose?
Or meadows bright with mad, gay blossoming?

For you perhaps a hundred years remain
And birds will seek your shelter as of yore,
And plunder nuts among your ripening store -
Old tree, your life has not been lived in vain.

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