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ONCE more the gate behind me falls; Once more before
face I see the mouldered Abbey-walls,
That stand within the chace.
Beyond the lodge the city lies,
Beneath its drift of smoke ; And ah! with what delighted eyes
I turn to yonder oak !
For when my passion first began,
Ere that which in me burned,
Could hope itself returned ;
To yonder oak within the field
I spoke without restraint,
Than Papist unto Saint.
For oft I talked with him apart,
And told him of my choice, Until he plagiarized a heart,
And answered with a voice.
Though what he whispered under Heaven
None else could understand; I found him garrulously given,
A babbler in the land.
But since I heard him make reply
Is many a weary hour; 'T were well to question him, and try
If yet he keeps the power.
Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,
Broad oak of Sumner-chace, Whose topmost branches can discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!
Say thou, whereon I carved her name,
If ever maid or spouse, As fair as my Olivia, came
To rest beneath thy boughs ?
“O Walter, I have sheltered here Whatever maiden
grace The good old Summers, year by year,
Made ripe in Sumner-chace :
“Old Summers, when the monk was fat,
And, issuing shorn and sleek, Would twist his girdle tight, and pat
The girls upon the cheek,
“ Ere yet, in scorn of Peter’s-pence,
And numbered bead, and shrift, Bluff Harry broke into the spence,
And turned the cowls adrift:
" And I have seen some score of those
Fresh faces, that would thrive When his man-minded offset rose
To chase the deer at five;
“ And all that from the town would stroll,
Till that wild wind made work, In which the gloomy brewer's soul
Went by me, like a stork :
“The slight she-slips of loyal blood,
And others, passing praise, Strait-laced, but all-too-full in bud
For puritanic stays:
« And I have shadowed many a group
Of beauties, that were born
Or while the patch was wom;
“ And, leg and arm with love-knots gay,
About me leaped and laughed The modish Cupid of the day,
And shrilled his tinsel shaft.
“I swear (and else may
insects prick Each leaf into a gall) This girl, for whom your heart is sick,
Is three times worth them all;