Writers and readers, part 2
The blessings of the trees

Early morning in the greenwood

Woodland 1

Woodland 2

"To enter a wood," wrote English naturalist Roger Deakin, "is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost. Merlin sends the future King Arthur as a boy into the greenwood to fend for himself in The Sword and the Stone. There, he falls asleep and dreams himself, like a chameleon, into the lives of the animals and trees.

Woodland 3

"In As You Like It, the banished Duke Senior goes to live in the Forest of Arden like Robin Hood, and in A Midsummer Night's Dream the magical metamorphosis of the lovers takes place in a wood 'outside Athens' that is quite obviously an English wood, full of the faeries and Robin Goodfellows of our folklore.

Woodland 4

"Pinned on my study wall is a still from Truffaut's L'Enfant Sauvage. It shows Victor, the feral boy, clambering through the tangle of branches of the dense deciduous woods of the Aveyron. The film remains one of my touchstones for thinking about our relations with the natural world: a reminder that we are not so far away as we would like to think from our cousins the gibbons, who swing like angels through the forest canopy, at such headlong speed that they almost fly like the tropical birds they envy and emulate in the music of their marriage-songs at dawn in the tree-tops....

Woodland 5

"The Chinese count wood as the fifth element, and Jung considers trees an archetype. Nothing can compete with these larger-than-life organisms for signalling the changes in the natural world. They are our barometers of the weather and of the changing seasons. We tell the time of year by them. Trees have the capacity to rise to the heavens and connect us to the sky, to endure, to renew, to bear fruit, and to burn and warm us through the winter. I know of nothing quite as elemental as the log fire glowing in my hearth, nothing that excites the imagination and the passions quite as much as its flames. To Keats, the gentle cracklings of the fire were whisperings of the household gods 'that keep / A gentle reminder o'er fraternal souls.'

"Most of the world still cooks on wood fires, and the vast majority of the world's wood is used as firewood. In so far as 'Western' people have forgotten how to lay a wood fire, or its fossil equivalent in coal, they have lost touch with nature. Aldous Huxley wrote of D.H. Lawrence that 'He could cook, he could sew, he could darn a stocking and milk a cow, he was an efficient woodcutter and a good hand at embroidery, fires always burned when he had laid them and a floor after he had scrubbed it was thoroughly clean.' As it burns, wood releases the energies of the earth, water and sunshine that grew it. Each species expresses its character in its distinctive habits of combustion. Willow burns as it grows, very fast, spitting like a firecracker. Oak glows reliably, hard and long. A wood fire in the hearth is a little household sun.

Woodland 6

Woodland 7

Woodland 8

"When Auden wrote, 'A culture is no better than its woods,' he knew that, having carelessly lost more of their woods than any other country in Europe, the British take a correspondingly greater interest in what trees and woods they still have left. Woods, like water, have been suppressed by motorways and the modern world, and have come to look like the subconscious of the landscape. They have become the guardians of our dreams of greenwood liberty, of our wildwood, feral, childhood selves, of Richmal Crompton's Just William and his outlaws. They hold the merriness of Merry England, of yew longbows, of Robin Hood and his outlaw band. But they are also repositories of the ancient stories, of Icelandic myths of Ygdrasil the Tree of Life, Robert Graves's 'The Battle of the Trees' and the myths of Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough. The enemies of the woods are always enemies of culture and humanity."

Woodland 9

 The passage above is Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin (1943-2006), which I highly recommend. The poem (?) ... story (?) ... chant (?) tucked into the picture captions is mine, as is Tree Caps, the drawing below.

Woodland 10

''Tree Caps'' by Terri Windling

Wildwood by Roger Deakin

Comments

I think I must search out this Roger Deakin's book.
So so green your surround, it's healing. Thank Tilly for leading the way and you for following.

Do Trees Speak, An Answer

Only when we listen do we hear
The rustling voice of trees,
With lips of leaves, gossiping.

Only when we settle into silence,
Will the bark hum and hymn
Its own salvations.

Only when we center down
Are we open enough to find
The moment between old friends.

Leaf, bark, trunks, root, crown,
The chlorophyll songs of lives
Well lived, and long.

Only when we listen do we hear.

©2015 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

The chlorophyll songs of lives....I love this poem.

Deakin's book is so wonderful. So lovely to see it shared. And I love these photos ... that path looks as if it is leading into an old faery dream ... and oh my, the beautiful delicate drawing. <3

I hope all is well with you.

They Would Think I was Mad

It was a good thing to have a mean
Stepbrother, who would not bother me
When I went into the woods. Tales
Like this have gone around the world
In whispers. In the solemn air of pines,
And snappy smell of junipers, weeds,
Too like small wishers to be tall and wise.

I have told it elsewhere, for now I can;
How there came to me a long parade
Of men and women, children, perhaps
Magical and secretive. Oh if I could
Hum that music, it went on and on,
And I saw centuries, going...where?

And in heated afternoons, under the
Tall shady trees, the echo of some
Tale told to me, without words, only
Moving life on and on, daylight dreams,
And the sorrow of having no way
To share. Time has invented some
Charm for those of us, who have heard
The trees, and know the visions still
Are there. A forest for lost and found
Good. Nameless and powerful. I
So given this to tell you now.

I love this. I LOVE THIS. The greenwood photographs full of morning light. The curve of Tilly's back sitting by your coffee cup. The weaving of the wildwood and literature in the words of Roger Deakin, a blessing on his memory. The greenwood girls sprouting branches from their caps. Your enchanting little story in the picture captions. The poems by Jane and Phyllis in response.

Sarah is right. Today's post is a pathway straight to Faerieland.

I can SEE that long parade.

Jane

Hi Terri

I love, love this piece on the greenwood. The Pictures are beautiful with the canopied tree paths leading somewhere, with the ferns fanning the air and the water gurgling under a pergola of
interweaving branches. And of course, the gate keeper/guide to this beautiful wood, Tilly!!!

Roger Deakin's opening quote --

"To enter a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, ..."

made me think of a whimsical poem I wrote some time back. It speaks through the voice of a pagan wife who ponders the promise/threat of her traditional husband if she should bob her long hair and turn it punk. A strange offshoot of Christopher Marlowe's poem, The Passionate Shepherd to His love", she muses on the outcome drawing from her love/knowledge of the woods, the elements and a woman's keen guile.


Wiccan Logic

A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Christopher Marlowe


If I cut my hair
(dusk-fallen to the hip)
highlight and spike it

you will change the locks
and cast me out --
the moon
chalk-lining my shadow.

And if the moon is full
and I shape-shift
into nettles flowering fair

I'll sting your leg
as you walk through woods
pale and restless.

The ache of me
will become the ache of you
and we'll enter the house
damp with forest dew,
closer than ever.
______________________________
Again, thank you for this,
What a beautiful way to start my morning.

My Best
Wendy

Hi Jane

Only when we center down
Are we open enough to find
The moment between old friends.

Leaf, bark, trunks, root, crown,
The chlorophyll songs of lives
Well lived, and long.

Love the lyrical tone in this poem and the message. Trees
are indeed the wise ones, the guardians, the landmarks that witness history and harbor secret knowledge. "Their lips of leaves" indeed gossip and we must stop to listen. How beautifully this poem sounds when read aloud and when pondered for the suble currents of meaning underneath, like those rings of lineage inside the trunk.

Loved this!
Thank you!
Wendy

Hi Phyllis

I have known this "snappy whispers of pine" the scent of Juniper and the spired towers of evergreen that bordered the yard of home in New York. It was magical and regal, secretive and secluded. I often thought of the grove of pines that graced part of the garden was like a convent where I entered to pray and reflect.

This poem of yours enchants with its voice and details. I particularly loved --

And in heated afternoons, under the
Tall shady trees, the echo of some
Tale told to me, without words, only
Moving life on and on, daylight dreams,
And the sorrow of having no way
To share.

I have personally experienced that and thank you so much for bringing back those childhood memories!!

My Best
Wendy

Shape-shifting into nettles. Wow. Who'd have thought of such a thing. Brilliant.

And now you have thought it and now I see an entire book of folks shape-shifting into plants. I think I would be ivy, so strong I could make stone walls crumble yet so supple as to tremble in a passing breeze.

Huzzah.

Jane

Thank you. Years later I listened to Orff's "Carmina Burana," and was near to the music
and the parade in the woods. Some kind of kinship.

At that time if I told anybody, I would be shunned as crazy. Now I understand childhood
has much to give us as writers of stories and poems. What a wonderful unnamed circle of what we have.

Agreed. I think I would be a tumbleweed. Scurrying along to the unknown somewhere.

Hi Jane

Brillant and imaginative choice. I love ivy, tenaciously strong yet agile as you have so deftly said. And we certainly had plenty of it clinging to the stone walls in our woods back in New York State. Now, while these people are shape-shifting into plants -- it's time for me to become one as well. I think I would choose the shadbush trembling in the wind, blooming near the stream that runs swift with the spawning shad fish. I have always loved that plant ,too, growing in the wetlands of The Hudson Valley. I have always thought of it, symbolically perhaps, as delicate yet teeming with life. Maybe cause it's named after the fish and blooms in mid Spring.

Thanks so much for you lovely comment on my poem and this wonderful plant identity/wisdom!


Take care,
Wendy

Once more we are invited into a strange, magical place never before known. Words with
adventures radiant!

Hi Phyllis,

Tumbleweed is so interesting, gypsified and wild with abandon, it goes to that "unknown somewhere" unafraid and
unassuming. Such a good choice!!

Thanks so much for sharing this!
Best
Wendy

Thanks so much Phyllis

I deeply appreciate your kind words and love the way you say, "Words with adventures radiant". You could expand on that and let it become a poem maybe or something similar on the subject of writing!

My Best
Wendy

"He could cook, he could sew, he could darn a stocking and milk a cow, he was an efficient woodcutter and a good hand at embroidery, fires always burned when he had laid them and a floor after he had scrubbed it was thoroughly clean."

I am happy to say, that's me, too. I won't say proud, because my Lincolnshire ancestors would laugh at that. Why be proud of being able to so everyday things?

for 'so' read 'do'

Nothing wrong with everyday things.
Some of what we do, sings.
I too have milked a cow, I know how
To chop wood though no need now.

Embroidery danced from mother to
My daughter. I just mend, and do
Make costumes from different clothes
Like a puzzle, plays of joy and woes.

All in all what Buddhist do,
Chop wood, bring water, too.
To have a path and truly know it
Some price then but quiet.

Not price: prize

For Wendy

Words with adventures radiant,
I have read the music in your work
and play, as you shift air into life,
leaves into letters, voices clear
and clouds explained.

MOM plus Jane was first to come
and in her name, we began to write
in returns, Gifts begat gifts begat
voyages in a sea we could now see.

Terri and Tilly on the green hills,
by ancient trees and elfin gates
we have danced to all our own tunes.
Flashed of faery, light of morns.
wheeling words and speaking stones,
all in a newly constructed castle
of air. Adventures radiant, prickly
and silky have followed the trail
of green. To the somewhere...

It is catching as love and more
to come. We write, day and night
and in our dreams, rearranged
to a path we never knew, a time
so easily caught, as in a spell.
Voice from deep well, companions
each voice unlike another.
And the words flow out, radiant
to light on candle wicks and the sky.

What a gorgeous cornucopia of poetical delight today. Everyone has clearly been down to the greenwood and drunk deeply of the wisdom of trees.

With sadness I read the line, "the enemies of the woods are always enemies of culture and humanity," as our government here attempts to push through legislation that will allow the large scale burning of native old growth forest 'waste' (what's left after the bulldozers have been through and the 'useable timber' removed...in reality about 70% of the total timber cut down) to be included as a 'sustainable energy source' to count towards our Renewable Energy Target. While also massively increasing logging quotas in old growth forests, which will massively increase the amount of 'waste' to be burned. Madness.

Hi Phyllis

What an absolutely magical poem1! Indeed, adventurously radiant!! I love the way you show the interactive alchemy of this site with the writers coming together to inspire, enlighten and take us to wonderful places, strange and new. You, Jane, Teri Tilly Stuart, Edith, Lynn, Candace, Sarah, Christina and all the other talented writers and readers who grace this page make this an ensemble accompli, very accomplished and imaginative. And thank you so much, so much for including me in this poem. Your words truly sing and the ending is thoroughly divine

Voice from deep well, companions
each voice unlike another.
And the words flow out, radiant
to light on candle wicks and the sky.

Love, love those "words flowing out "radiant" to light on candle wicks and the sky". What a gorgeous image and ending!

Many Thanks, blessings for this.
Wendy

Yes, this. Thank you Cynthia, I couldn't have said it better...you encapsulated my thoughts and my gratitude.

What a beautiful post. Many thanks for the lovely photos. This time of year when all is sweltering in my part of the world, my eyes need as much green as they can get. So refreshing and lovely. And now another book to add to my wish list. Thank you!

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