by Yvor Winters
Under the forest, where the day is dark
And air is motionless throughout the day,
Rooted in leaf-mold and in rotting bark,
This old arbutus gathers strength to stay.
Tall as a man, and taller, but more old,
This is no shrub of some few years, but hard
Its smooth unbending trunk, oh, hard and cold!
Of earth and age the stony proof and guard!
The skin is rose: yet infinitely thin,
It is a color only. What one tells
Of ancient wood and softly glinting skin
Is less than are the tiny waxen bells.
This life is not our life; nor for our wit
The sweetness of these shades; these are alone.
There is no wisdom here; seek not for it!
This is the shadow of the vast madrone.