just before emerging from their green covering, and the time of their development, are registered with minute accuracy:
"But, Alice, what an hour was that,
When, after roving in the woods
('Twas April then), I came and sat
Below the chestnuts, when their buds
Were glistening in the breezy blue!"
"Glistening" is the exact epithet here. The early foliation of the chestnut and elm we find in the exquisite fragment "Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere." The lines on the chestnut are very characteristic:
"In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground."
This, with the similar remark on the elm, corresponds to the order of Nature, and is nowhere better or more beautifully exemplified than in Kensington Gardens every April.
So far as we have been able to discover, there is only a single line devoted to the birch. It is to be found in "Amphion," that singular reproduction, in sylvan form, of the mythological legend. It is interesting to notice, by-the-way, that, in the later editions, the verse in which the birch is mentioned is omitted, and another substituted. As a whole, the latter is doubtless the more musical of the two, but we are sorry to lose the apt and charming characterization of "the lady of the woods." For the curious in Tennysoniana we print both:
"The birch-tree swang her fragrant hair,
The bramble cast her berry,
The gin within the juniper
Began to make him merry."
"The linden broke her ranks and rent
The woodbine-wreaths that bind her,
And down the middle, buzz! she went
With all her bees behind her."
Of all the poets who have sung the praises of the birch, Coleridge, Keats, and, preeminently Sir Walter Scott, none of them has surpassed the initial line of the first stanza in condensed and subtile expressiveness. Scott's is somewhat similar, although not quite so good:
"Where weeps the birch with silver bark,
And long dishevelled hair."
"Dishevelled," implying disorders and entanglement, does not convey a correct idea of the foliage of the birch. "Swang her fragrant hair" is decidedly better.
The fullness and ripeness of the poet's knowledge of trees are amply