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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Henry Charles Beeching b. 185–

To My Totem

THY name of old was great:

What though sour critics teach

“The beech by the Scæan gate

Was not indeed a beech,”

That sweet Theocritus

The ilex loved, not thee?—

These are made glorious

Through thy name, glorious tree.

And sure ’t was ’neath thy shade

Tityrus oft did use

(The while his oxen strayed)

To meditate the Muse.

To thee ’t was Corydon

(Sad shepherd) did lament

Vain hopes, and violets wan

To fair Alexis sent.

Our singers loved thee, too:

In Chaucer’s liquid verse

Are set thy praises due

The ages but rehearse;

Though later poets bring

Their homage still, and I

The least of those who sing

Thy name would magnify.

For long ago my sires,

Ere Hengist crossed the sea

To map our English shires,

Gave up their heart to thee,

And vowed if thou wouldst keep

Their lives from fire and foe,

Thou too shouldst never weep

The axe’s deadly blow.

Thou hast my heart to-day:

Whether in June I sit

And watch the leaves at play,

The flickering shadows flit;

Or whether, when leaves fall

And red the autumn mould,

I pace the woodland hall

Thy stately trunks uphold.

Thou hast my heart, and here

In scattered fruit I see

An emblem true and clear

Of what my heart must be:—

Hard sheath and scanty fare,

Yet forced on every side

To break apart and share

Small gifts it fain would hide.