Let the Poetry Begin!
Old greenwood forests have moods, which speak to our senses. We all know how wonderful it is to see the fresh buds of spring on the trees, the songs of birds as they sit busily on branches high above us, and the flurry as they fly ahead at our approach. In spring all is renewed. Animals procreate, birds nest, new growth peeps shyly from the forest floor. Summer and autumn too, have their seasonal joys. It is not difficult to feel optimistic when the sun shines lazily through the foliage or we walk ankle-deep in dried leaves, at once entranced and bewildered by the season’s new patterns.
But, winter, and woodland can test the boldest of spirits. They remind us of our own mortality, of the relentless passage of time, of our own ageing and the coming of old age to those we love. On the other hand, most of us can see that winter doesn’t have to be the end of things. In many ways, it is a new beginning, and we only need be a little patient to see the signs of new life coming stealthily all around us.
The woodland’s breath is rank.
Dead trees like rotting teeth,
Gape, sweet and musty with decay,
As we approach.
The fallen trunks like cold Crusaders,
Long dead, lie in posey prayer,
Sightless, gazing at the vaulted,
High cathedral sky.
Beneath our feet, the leaf mould,
Damply, springs and sighs.
The velvet greens of mosses,
Cushion-plump and odious,
Cloak the stumps and boles
Of oaks and birch and beech.
Fat toadstools, sulphurous, pink, and brown,
Infest the forest floor.
“All things must pass”, it seems to say.
“All things must fade and die away.”
But my feet dance, on beech-nut mast,
For there I see,
Beside the crumbling, ivy-covered tree,
A fresh-sprung snowdrop nod his head to thee.
I was born in England soon after the war. I moved , with my family to Australia in 1966, where I was a soldier (briefly), a public servant, an opera singer, and an English teacher.