The Holly Tree.

O Reader !  hast thou ever stood to see1
The holly tree ?2
The eye that contemplates it well perceives3
Its glossy leaves4
Order’d by an intelligence so wise,5
As might confound the Atheist’s sophistries.6
Below, a circling fence, its leaves are-seen7
Wrinkled and keen ;8
No grazing cattle through their prickly round9
Can reach to wound ;10
But as they grow where nothing is to fear,11
Smooth and unarm’d the pointless leaves appear.12
I love to view these things with curious eyes,13
And moralize :14
And in this wisdom of the holly tree15
Can emblems see16
Wherewith perchance to make a pleasant rhyme,17
One which may profit in the after-time.18
Thus, though abroad perchance I might appear19
Harsh and austere,20
To those who on my leisure would intrude21
Reserved and rude,22
Gentle at home amid my friends I’d be,23
Like the high leaves upon the holly tree.24
And should my youth, as youth is apt, I know,25
Some harshness show,26
All vain asperities I day by day27
Would wear away,28
Till the smooth temper of my age should be29
Like the high leaves upon the holly tree.30
And as when all the summer trees are seen31
So bright and green,32
The holly leaves their fadeless hues display33
Less bright than they ;34
But when the bare and wintry woods we see,35
What then so cheerful as the holly tree ?36
So serious should my youth appear among37
The thoughtless throng,38
So would I seem amid the young and gay39
More grave than they,40
That in my age as cheerful I might be41
As the green winter of the holly tree.42