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Anna Jane Vardill

The Yew in Skipton Castle [1]

Pride of these ruins—stately Yew!
Thou livest still, an emblem true
Of those who in the silence pine
Of solitude more drear than thine,
Yet look at length above their fate,
And rise magnificent, though late.
Hard was the selfish heart that doom’d
Thy tender youth to waste entomb’d,
Where summer’s breath could never bless
Thy dark and frozen loneliness.
Once by these grey dim arches screen’d,
Perhaps some captive maiden lean’d,
And saw thee in thy dungeon pent,
Then mourn’d her own imprisonment.
Her tears and gentle pity fed
Thy famish’d root, and bade it spread;
For scarce the noblest sapling lives,
Without the dewdrop Kindness gives.
On thee was grav’d the mystic knot
Of faith and friendship long forgot:
Thy leaves by thankless hands were shorn,
Thy stem the spoiler’s axe has borne,
While only on thy silent cell
The sullen damps of evening fell.
Thro’ many a long, long wintry year,
Thy stedfast roots have struggled here,
Yet thou hast lived and lingered last,
While Glory crumbled in the blast.—
The bold, the powerful, and the sage,
Have moulder’d in the depths of age;
And Valour’s crest and Beauty’s flower
Have fall’n alike from Clifford’s tow’r:
These mighty walls are shrunk, but thou
Hast life and strength and beauty now!
Above thy prison to the sky
Thy glorious head is lifted high:
And patient Honour smiles to see
An emblem of itself in thee.


  1. This superb tree is said to have been planted in one of the square deep courts of Skipton Castle two hundred years. It is now bigger than the battlements. 

The European Magazine, Vol. 78, November 1820, p. 454