A Compendium of Modern Husbandry
Almost every churchyard throughout the kingdom, as my opening line states, had a Yew tree, in its Christian context the Yew is a symbol of resurrection but further back in time it was a symbol of regeneration. Our Celtic history saw our ancestors worship such trees, making offerings to them because these trees were the home of spirits or divinities who had power over life.
The Yew it seems, can regrow long after our ancestors turned it into beams built into their houses and, like the Crowhurst Yew,
after it stood the ravages of civil war.
It seems that much of it is dead or in a delicate state but what remains is complex and beautiful, but what stories it could tell if only it could speak.......
Five hundred summers o'er this turf has spread ;
This sacred turf! where turn'd to parent clay,
"The rude forefathers of the hamlet" lay ;
Thrice hail ! for to thy gen'rous trunk, we owe
The hero's lance, and the elastic bow.
Oft when Bellona blew her trump to arm,
And discord drew the peasant from his farm,
To thee tall tree! the village youths would fly,
And from thy sturdy arms the war supply ;
Trim thy tough bows they knew so well to use,
To deal high deeds for the historic muse.
If for the Barons bold, thy bows were bent,
Ere stubborn John had wisdom to relent ;
Thrice blest be thou, for we are bound to thee,
For Albion's greatest boast, her liberty !
If for the haughty peers thy arms were spread,
When civil fury dy'd the white rose red,
T’ oblivion shall thy bard the tale consign,
The fault was theirs, altho' the deed was thine.
What tho' no more we ask thy pow'rful aid,
Since dreadful sulphur fits the warrior's trade ;
Still may'st thou hallow'd be, and flourish still
The pride, the glory of this peaceful hill ;
And may the clown that wounds thy boughs or bark.
Ne'er court thy shade, to hear the soaring lark ;
May dryads haunt him in the woodland way,
When sinks the moon before the break of day ;
And wond'rous tree ! that has ten ages stood,
May light'ning never blast thy hallowed wood ;
May those who guard thee without pain decay,
And thou, in turn, shed yew-tears on their clay.
Be't thine, O Walker !* to preserve this tree,
And he shall praise, who yields this verse - thee.
*The Walker of the poem was once the Vicar of the Parish Church in which the Yew stands.