Jonathan ROBIN (22 September / London)
One thousand years great Ash rose up
from slender trunk to tickle moon
while Asgard's Gods would wood festoon.
I versify. Life's afternoon
slips into eventide to sup
beside the golden buttercup,
among the joyous saplings strewn,
commune with magic, bounty, boon.
Long in Urd's Court Norse Norms held sway
Enveaving threads each day saw cut
to mourn, or strengthend, no doors shut
extending mortal luck, as hut
bore witness to prosperity
or fortold freemen slavery,
roots reached to every cranny nook
to note the choices each soul took
life's book was filled, no chance foresook,
all truth and falsehood light of day
discovered, treason's reasoned play
as seasons followed seasons' stay.
Yggdrasil sage won't cage wise snakes,
the roots to subterraenean lakes
descend from which the Aesir ride,
beneath Frost Jostnar time and tide
resist the worm which would abide
to gnaw, ignores not Man's mistakes.
Till Ragnarök when Gods take horse
to Vignor war plain, voices hoarse
as battle charges, woe betide,
left Odin hung from branch thigh wide.
From sunrise smile with dewdrop pearls
whose tears deck leaves as each uncurls,
from breath by photosynthesis
to death without a goodbye kiss,
from sapling which warm zephyr twirls
to gnarled old wood with outgrowth burls,
on how I live, on that and this,
my roots reflect before abyss
recycling swallows branch and twig.
Ash understands life's whirligig
spins rings concentric marking time
to final season's reasoned climb,
from shoot to trunk and branches big
where grunting pigs for truffles dig,
plays panorama pantomime
from small to tall productive prime.
Norse legends link wood warden's twig
unto Creation's wheel sublime.
Although deep rooted, tree to tree
transmits, receives, all share lore we
from long lost Ents once learned before
our quintessential none ignore
fixed time and place as by decree
we walked no longer. By degree
our waiting, shepherd like, restore
to earth a balance more and more
contested by Man's needless squander
from here unto the wild blue yonder.
None urban grey smog clogs dismiss
as harmless. Men must reminisce:
as chickens home to roost will wander
humanity, no time to ponder,
clima[c]tic tipping point does miss.
Lost souls who fail to recognize
the role Norms play, or dreams disguise
as hearsay must to old ways, ties,
cleave clear reforge or self despise,
or kiss goodbye to joy, to bliss.
One thousand years and more Ash, Oak,
through summer sunshine, winter cloak
bore witness to the seasons' change,
to human intercourse, exchange,
from hoarfrost leaflessness to soak
when purple, yellow, crocus poke
amid dawn's dew while worming range
both early bird and shadows strange.
'Mid shadows numberless' my shade
spreads out amid the gladding glade,
where hollyhock and lupin rise
to draw light's glory from the skies.
May life for men spread unafraid
and unpolluted, story laid
to greet with open-eyed surprise
life's weather in whatever guise.
One thousand years and more Ash tree
extended branching canopy,
while underground in silence spread
stretched roots beneath man's heedless tread.
Pride grew to rot in sin, babe new
to stripling grew, knew cemetery,
leafed out a destiny, which, read,
showed little purpose, tail or head.
Man's generations come and go,
ignoring seasons' reasoned flow,
would all control to leave a mark
or heartless heart on rugged bark.
But patient bark will overflow
this rapid race whose trace may know
no glory when their story stark
is told by ants in days now dark.
One thousand years Ash tree can see
woodpeckers knock, fragility
despite umbrella overhead,
while squirrel frisks from eyrie bed
to sneak snake gossip most misled.
Beside the shallow riverbed.
There beech and birch accompany
pine saplings b[l]eached by destiny.
There willow waves her streaming head,
there thoughts foregather, nothing dread.
Man's generation climate change
prepares, for tree 'tis passing strange
to sense through signals in the air
ice melting round the polar bear.
This threatens tree: new insects range
from south to north, thus rearrange
established patterns everywhere,
some species sink, jinx can't repair.
One thousand years and more, few things
today seem magic, stay Time's stings,
Norms thread reform, swift disarrange
the plans of mice and men, while mange
rots fur once fine, wine tart turns, strings
of cause, effect, converge, which brings
cusp watershed, yet still life streams
bark, branches, raft, recrafting dreams.
Here see the brambles' carefree play,
here too wild roses mild display
their petal banners white and pink
recorded now in online ink.
Here too find peace and balmy breeze
which laughs at man's fatuities,
while honey bees buzz through and link
Nature's cycles while we think.
One thousand years and more tree rings
record life's chord word, climate swings
from summers Indian and drought
to winters harsh and frozen out.
Yet 'permanence' like many things,
is only relative, Time's wings
ambitions and conventions flout,
wage war on s[t]age, deception, doubt.
Tree tale is drawing to its end
with naught to strive for, naught defend.
Neutral witness I, Ash, record
what winds have borne of bed and board
dealt to rash man who brash pride bends
from straight and narrow, Nature offends.
Leaf blows from branch, Time's wind may lend
boughs years on end unbowed, assured,
until fate's final bow cuts cord,
leaves die a log by sunlit sward.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
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