I dare not argue long with Death for fear that she might pause,
And spend too long a time with me explaining of her laws.
But when she stopped this morning at the house just up from mine,
To remonstrate with her awhile, I found myself inclined.
I did not know my neighbor well, I saw him in the yard,
Still less yon’ thousand-year-old oak know I in this regard.
Its roots pull up the earth around, to form a little hill,
Its crown gilds the horizon line, to stanch the sunlight’s spill.
The oak, it samples carefully of everything around,
From light, to dew upon the air, to microbes in the ground.
But though it recognizes all, it takes not all too close,
To prey of hawk a shelter, but to pests a poison dose.
To gaze upon an ancient oak, to feel a bit its shade,
That is enough to know of what nobility is made.