Sunday, May 18, 2008
Sunday, 19 May 2008: The death of a noble tree
This week I was forced to remove a huge tree in the grounds of Thatchwick Cottage. Its root system had started to crack my wall some time ago but after this summer's rain, I could no longer ignore the damage. Gert, my regular tree trimmer, did an excellent job to hew down the enormous tree whose branches hung over my wall, part of the road and the pavement in front of my house. I fled to my study from eight in the morning until lunchtime when the sound of the electric saws ceased. My dear friend, who is a well-known ceramic artist, is donating a special bowl for a birdbath to place on the waist-high stump as a peace offering to my garden birds... and here is a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins in memory of that tree.
Binsey poplars, felled 1879
My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the quenching sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew-
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene;
Sweet especial rural scene.