A Dome Of Dutch Elms Memory And Meditation - Poem by Daniel Brick
In my early years,
the streets of St. Paul were lined
on both sides with Dutch Elms,
growing profusely across three seasons
of the year. The trees had grown
to great heights, and at the limit
of their upward growth, the branches
spread out, and from both sides
they joined and created an arch
over street and boulevards, enclosing
them beneath a dome of leaves and branches.
It was under that dome I had
my being and grew from childhood
through adolescence into early manhood.
Sun shafts falling into the canopy
with their white light absorbed
them yellow-green of the leaves
and filtered that mellow color
over my existence. And its beauty
touched me as deeply as any beauty
on earth, or any imaginable
in my young mind. And it lasted.
That sight was not only beautiful
in itself, but I believe it was the source
of my sense of beauty: what is calm
and stable, upright and lasting, something
beyond me that yet still contains me, what
presents many things in the world which
hold me rapt in wonder, but also brings me
deep within to an interior place where
all is silent and absolutely still, and
my delight is a portion of the whole of wonder.
I spent many summer days, sitting
beneath that dome, with its lattice of branches
and canopy of leaves, reading the ancient poets -
Horace and Ovid, and further back, Theocritus
and Callimachus. They were the threshold
to a sacred time when gods and humans and animals
were all thriving under the dome of Gaia's life.
Each day ended for me as it did for them
with the slow crescendo of the cicadas' tremulous song.
Beauty does not wait upon our wills or nature.
It is a perpetual stretching out in revelation, then
a movement forward into some other arena
of display. We who live our lives, burnished
and bright, under the light of the sun
must take what is offered, when it is offered,
bound as we are to time, which also also does
not wait upon our wills or nature. Time is not
pitched for human delight. It is poetry's mission
to bring delight within the boundary of time.
What else can we do but surrender to time's flow,
link it to beauty by means of verse, and watch
their royal procession under the dome
of Dutch Elms passing through our lives.
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