by Thomas Hardy
The two executioners stalk along over the knolls
Bearing two axes with heavy heads shining and wide,
And a long limp two-handled saw toothed for cutting great boles,
And so they approach the proud tree that bears the death-mark on its side.
Jackets doffed they swing axes and chop away just above ground
And the chips fly about and lie
white on the moss and fallen leaves;
Till a broad deep gash in the bark is hewn all the way round, wood;
And one of them tries to hook upward a rope, which at last he achieves.
The saw then begins, till the top of the tall giant shivers:
The shivers are seen to grow greater with each cut than before:
They edge out the saw, tug the rope; but the tree only quivers,
And kneeling and sawing again, they step back to try pulling once more.
Then, lastly, the living mast sways, further sways: with a shout
Job and Ike rush aside. Reached the end of its long staying powers
The tree crashes downward: it shakes all its neighbours throughout,
And two hundred years’ steady growth has been ended in less than two hours.
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