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The Trees at Oakley. Sunday December 4, 2016

I have always found trees to be a source of great solace, especially during difficult times when growing up, and I would love to hear other people's experiences of trees. The ones I write about here were a favourite in a nearby village when I moved to the area during adulthood, but I was horrified to discover a few years ago that one of them had been cut down and removed - I heard a while later it was for reasons of safety as it had sadly become diseased. This made me want to write about it and a poem seemed fitting, especially as I have always found poetry to be a way of expressing feelings which I could not convey in any other way.


Very old is the tree, its sinewy trunk stretching up and ever-skywards,
At one with the earth, rising out from the moss-cushioned, violetted soil;
Its roots emerging from the grainy ground as of a monster from the deep.

Flailing limbs toss and sway, dipping down to touch the frowsty floor,
Where claw-like feet peck and pick their way through crusted crunchy nutshells,
Foraging for fruit-bearing sustenance and nestled pools to cool a thirsty throat;
Seeking repose in dim, hushed hollows hewn between the roots.

Creeping ivy, ever-green on lime-green lichen,
Strives to meet with knobbled eyes, bulging out from scarred and pock-marked bark
Rent and straining as its girth grew and expanded.
While, deeper yet, etched sentinel-seer eyes watch wisely, tacitly.
A mottled, contorted and melancholy grin professes silent ire and unexpressed hidden sadness.

Broken branches rub a splintery canker where once festered a weeping open wound,
And stumpy amputations give way to stronger protrusions,
Twisted and melded into one,
Growing thinner and ever finer
As their lace-like fingers weave their latticework against an angry billowing sky;
First rustling, then rushing, as wind through the rafters of a ruined cathedral.

Very old was the tree, its flat cracked stump, cut off at ground level like a forest dweller's table,
The only proof of its neighbouring existence; its majestic gallantry gone for ever
As prevalent, wizened splendour was unpreventive of its own demise.
But hope springs yet, for seeded sproutlings of oak, holly and beech, encircling its bulk,
Flutter their infant leaves as they flitter their unquelled dance, expectantly,
Oblivious of their own fate;
Under the ever watchful guard of girded yews.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Jul Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 8:01am

This is a great poem Nicky. Reading it, I get a sense of optimism, that all is not lost and that new beginnings are showing and starting to appear. Maybe in your own life too? Thank you for writing such a lovely poem for us. More poetry please! Julxxx

Nicco Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 11:48am

Thank you Jul. I live in hope!

Sally Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 8:02am

Very interesting poem, Nicky. It must have taken lots of intense observation and deep feelings for the tree to produce this poem . Many good images and clever word use. You clearly loved that tree, and invested it with other feelings intertwined in your life too? I too love tres, especially old, thick trunked ones, with history behind them. Majestic creations, they symbolise many things to us and provide firm evidence of the past and the present.

Nicco Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 11:51am

Yes, Sally, the trees at Oakley are just awesome. I sat down on the bole of the one that had been cut down and just jotted down what I saw, even odd words, then I pulled it all together on the pc when I got back. I know some people prefer pen and paper and I did use that to start with, but I prefer the pc as I can move words and sentences around much more easily. I'm glad you like it.

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:01am

Hi Nicky, I loved reading your poem aloud, it's so atmospheric, you created dark beauty. Thank you love to all LPxx

Nicco Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 11:54am

Thank you, LP. I think poetry should mostly be read aloud. The atmosphere was quite dark under the huge tree. It was a dull and windy day, as I recall.

Orangeblossom Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:01am

Hi Nicky I loved your poem & also Ilove trees. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Nicco Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 11:55am

You are most welcome, Orangeblossom. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I couldn't live anywhere that didn't have trees!

Jane Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:03am

Wondering if you know the poem by Walter de la Mare which begins: "Very old are the woods" ?

Nicco Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 11:56am

Jane, how did you guess?! Walter de la Mare is my favourite poet, and his poem, 'Very Old are the Woods' is one of my favourite poems of all time - it was also the inspiration for my poem about the trees at Oakley!

The Gardener Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 1:56pm

What a lovely blog. Trees. Sun on what is left of my weeping willow across the road. The oak tree the Duchesse Anne sat under 500 years ago. The road to the boys school, Crouch Oak Lane, all propped up, but still alive. I have a presentation on flowers all round the world - fabulous bark on a tree in Ooty, India. - Plane trees, 250 years old, with bark like a python skin - eucalyptus in Australia, flame trees in Indian, banyan ditto. Today I am 'fey'. Grand-daughter here - chaos getting her due to think fog - managed a party for over 40 people in spite of everything - she has her 'L' plates for wheelchair driving - I am on total auto-pilot - remember my kitchen full of friends all washing up - life is unreal - but we are sleeping! Mr G enjoying all the activity, For me, also, those words 'Very old are the Woods'. Our local forest was used by the Romans - the most spectacular beeches. Another poem 'What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare'. Now a luxury. Happy Sunday.

Jul Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 4:29pm

So glad your party went well Gardener.Well done. Julxx

Nicco Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 6:35pm

Such a lovely lot of tree memories you have, TG. I don't think I've ever seen a 500yr old weeping willow - what a magnificent sight it must be. I love tree bark - so facinating - I have some on my window sills that I picked up in a wood a few years ago. Well done for all that activity - glad Mr G enjoyed it too. Yes, L-Plates are a very important milestone - I remember when I got mine! Glad you are all sleeping. Ah, another poem which impacted my life... I can remember wondering as a teenager why I wasn't allowed to stand and stare but, now I'm very much older, I appreciate being able to do so (well, sit and stare at any rate!)

the room above the garage Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:41pm

Ah Nicky thank you. Trees. Yes. I have my favourite too. He is my best friend and we watch over each other. He has been the constant I needed. Magical things they are. Thank you, love ratg x.

Nicco Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 6:40pm

I'm so glad you have a best friend tree, ratg. Yes, they truly are magical. I remember gazing at a tree once that had a huge 'wound' where a branch had obviously split off, sap was dripping down, but it was standing tall and strong and still facing the elements. I remember thinking, 'Well, if the tree can survive despite being wounded, so can I!" and it gave me a lot of encouragement, as Mother Nature often does.

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 9:49pm

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.
No time to see when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

..........A poor life this if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

I remember that poem from childhood TG.
Am glad that it went well for you both too. LPxx

Nicco Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 6:43pm

That's the one, LP. It had a real impact on me when I discovered it, and I make sure I do have time to stare as long as sheep and cows, in fact I make a point of it several times a week, driving out to a favourite spot, surrounded by Nature, just to breathe it all in and take strength & sustenance from it.

LP Sun, Dec 4th 2016 @ 10:41pm

Ps thanks to those who replied to my comments yesterday.xx

Sally Mon, Dec 5th 2016 @ 5:04pm

Thank you for your kind words, LP and The Gardener.

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