Alfred Castner King
I passed along a mountain road,
Which led me through a wooded glen,
Remote from dwelling or abode
And ordinary haunts of men;
And wearied from the dust and heat.
Beneath a tree, I found a seat.
The tree, a tall majestic spruce,
Which had, perhaps for centuries,
Withstood, without a moment’s truce,
The wing-ed warfare of the breeze;
A monarch of the solitude,
Which well might grace the noblest wood.
Beneath its cool and welcome shade,
Protected from the noontide rays,
The birds amid its branches played
And caroled forth their twittering praise;
A squirrel perched upon a limb
And chattered with loquacious vim.
E’er yet that selfsame week had sped,
On my return, I sought its shade;
But where it reared its form, instead;
A fallen monarch I surveyed,
Prostrate and broken on the ground,
Nor longer cast its shade around.
Uprooted and disheveled, there
The monarch of the forest lay;
As if in desolate despair
Its last resistance fell away,
And overwhelmed, in evil hour
Went down before the tempest’s power.
Such are the final works of fate;
The birds to other branches flew;
And man, whatever his estate,
Must face that same mutation, too!
To-day, I stand erect and tall,
The morrow—may record my fall.