The Haughty Aspen by Nora Archibald Smith

A German Legend

As I went through the tangled wood
  I heard the Aspen shiver.
"What dost thou ail, sweet Aspen, say,
  Why do thy leaflets quiver?"

"'Twas long ago," the Aspen sighed—
  How long is past my knowing—
"When Mary Mother rode adown
  This wood where I was growing.
Blest Joseph journey'd by her side,
  Upon his good staff resting,
And in her arms the Heav'nly Babe,
  Dove of the World, was nesting.
Fair was the mother, shining-fair,
  A lily sweetly blowing;
The Babe was but a lily-bud,
  Like to his mother showing.

The birds began, 'Thy Master comes!
  Bow down, bow down before Him!'
The date, the fig, the hazel tree,
In rev'rence bent to adore Him.
I only, out of all the host
  Of bird and tree and flower,—
I, haughty, would not bow my head,
  Nor own my Master's power.
'Proud Aspen,' quoth the Mother-Maid,
  'Thy Lord, dost thou defy Him?
When emperors worship at His shrine,
  Wilt courtesy deny Him?'
I heard her voice; my heart was rent,
  My boughs began to shiver,
And age on age, in punishment,
  My sorrowing leaflets quiver."

Still in the dark and tangled wood,
  Still doth the Aspen quiver.
The haughty tree doth bear a curse,
  Her leaflets aye must shiver.