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Project 52 ’11 5: Old Oaks and New Folks

January 31, 2011

This has been a week of new arrivals (I’m an uncle for the very first time! Please read Larkin’s Born Yesterday for why I haven’t written about this: the perfect poem for such an occasion already exists) so for this week’s Project I have something new to offer. If that wasn’t astonishing enough, you might like to learn that I came up with the initial idea for this when I was procrastinating about doing last week’s very late entry.

I occupy the room at the back of the house which is blessed with quite a good view of the wood onto which this property backs. Included in this view are several large and ancient trees which have acted as the backdrop to a large part of my childhood and feature in a great deal of my memories. Whilst staring out the window last Sunday I wrote down the line “Old Oak Tree” which refers to the largest of the three larger trees in the wood; all this week I have been adding to this line and have finally come up with a poem.

It’s not the best thing ever written, but it’s ok for something that was done in a mere week. As always, I rely heavily on the way words sound (alliteration and so forth) and am particularly light on things like metaphor and simile. I may return to it later in Project 52 ’11 and see if I can polish it a bit. True to form, it is nameless.

You’re old, Oak Tree.

Your shadow has reached out and grown

For two Hundred years or more.

You have stretched your head

And raised above the wood

That first nursed a stripling sapling you.

You’re cold, Old Oak Tree,

Stood in the still wood, Winter worn,

Awaiting Spring’s awakening.

If I were you then I’d be

Choked in a coat of evergreen ivy –

A perch for birds that return

Year on year to your safety,

Raise new generations,

And then return to the earth that raised them.

And as the generations roll, Old Cold Oak Tree,

I wonder how many more will know you

With your loyal coat of ivy,

And how many years you will outgrow me

When I return to the earth that raised me.

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