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The Gar Tree

The Hundred of the shire took shelter in my shade
Long, long ago when the land was freshly laid
And I, already ancient, stood upon the tribal border
A maker post, a beacon, a sign of law and order

Where the people of the shires and the forests and the towns
All gathered ‘neath my branches with no axe or coin or crown
They met on level ground – those who toil upon the land
Those who sow and reap and harvest, those who work with blister’d hands

Those who preach and those who listen, those who give and those who take
The highbrow and the lowly – I hear all the noise they make
And I watch with timeless eyes as they sit upon my roots
With their bread and their ale and their ragged leather boots

And I, the ancient Gar tree, marked a place for man
To make the rule of law that would bind him to the land
And all across the Ages, and across the rolling hills
From the valleys and the villages you see me standing still

Though I am but a shadow on the concrete of the town
My leaves fill up the gutters, and my branches tangle round
The tower blocks and corner shops, my roots drink up the rain
My fingers reach out to the sun and fill the streets with shade

And I, the ancient Gar tree, with my memories of green
Will grow in English soil, eternal and unseen…
And the Hundred of the shire now sleep in dreamless night
And I shelter them in darkness and await the dawning light

And I, the ancient Gar tree, will once again grow tall
Every heart
In every leaf
I will hold them – all

A part of the Black and White collection