Trees: A Collection

‘From the attic window, high as a watch tower, from farm kitchen and dairy, from bedrooms set in the gable, we looked out upon trees, we gazed into their green depths and layered branches. The kitchen window hung level with the top of the beech trees on the slope below, and birds flew across the narrow neck of air to the shadowed hiding places. Trees pressed their bodies close to the stone wall around the fields, and gazed over the land. Great trees, sentinels and guardians, stood solitary in the meadows, free-growing elegant creatures, each of which had a special character of its own. They were our familiars, whom we knew very well.

They were part of our life, loved in an intimate way, watched and considered and talked about as if they were steadfast old friends, braving all weathers, sharing our way of living. Indeed, they were far more than ordinary friends to me, for they were my confidants and companions, and sometimes my enemies.

A tree should be regarded with such intensity that it reveals itself as a sentient being. So we contemplated the leafy trees in hedges and lanes, by the roads, and in the fields, and we knew them and would have recognised them anywhere if they had walked away. We saw the upward sweep of the fine trunks, the curling strength of the branches, and the lacy pattern of the twigs, year after year, and they were close to us as our own family. This realisation of trees has stayed with me, so wherever I go I make friends and nodding acquaintances, and the country is populated with these acquaintances.’

Alison Uttley

* * * * * * * * *

‘Field Edge Track’ by Kathleen Caddick

* * * * * * * * *

‘At the woodland edges, the purple finery of birch branches is slowly being replaced by lime green brightness. Winter-bare larch branches are being outfitted in bushy costumes as needled tresses sprout in jade and green and, at last, the solemn brown buds of ancient oak trees are opening, burnishing branch tips lightly and joyously in copper. On the peaty moorland, dark russet and chocolate stems of bog myrtle are painted bright orange as their flowers burst open with scents so fragrant and resinous that they are at once uplifting and healing.

In the heady, scented airs and currents, even when this lemon posset of spring newness is hurled about yet again by biting winds and snow flurries, the sap-rising rush of change is upon us, light-impelled, undeterred. And, above it all, the choruses of larks and cuckoos, undaunted by the frowning, still-winter-white tipped mountains. Spring has arrived in the Highlands.’

Annie Worsley

* * * * * * * * *

‘Tannenwald’ by Gustav Klimt

* * * * * * * * *

At Loschwitz above the city
The air is sunny and chill;
The birch-trees and the pine-trees
Grow thick upon the hill.

Lone and tall, with silver stem,
A birch-tree stands apart;
The passionate wind of spring-time
Stirs in its leafy heart.

I lean against the birch-tree,
My arms around it twine;
It pulses, and leaps, and quivers,
Like a human heart to mine.

One moment I stand, then sudden
Let loose mine arms that cling:
O God! the lonely hillside,
The passionate wind of spring!

Amy Levy

* * * * * * * * *

‘Golden Tree’ by Annie Ovenden

* * * * * * * * *

‘In the spring, a year ago, I was wandering with a friend in Savernake Forest. I cannot tell how early or how late in the spring, for the season had poured down  rain and sun in absent-minded fashion, so that some of the flowers had been dilatory in appearing and others had hastened along sooner that was reasonable, though not too soon for welcome. Therefore on that glorious morning, wood anemones and primroses and violets and the first bluebells were all out together. conquering the green moss; the branches is the trees, not yet impenetrable with foliage, allowed the sun to pass through and slide softly down the tree-trunks into pools and puddles of golden light. I cannot remember that any birds were singing; my impression was that this delectable wood lay around us in clear silence. My companion remarked that it gave her a lovely slippery feeling of something not beyond but beside its own beauty, as though the whole scene was about to vanish at any moment; and I exclaimed, led by this remark to sudden discovery: “Of course. It’s Act III, Scene IV. It’s another part of the forest!” ‘

From ‘Another Part of the Forest’ by G.B. Stern

* * * * * * * * *

‘Bluebell Woods’ by Emma Haworth

* * * * * * * * *

‘And then we all laughed exceedingly, as though the most splendid joke had been made, and before we had done we were out of the village and in the open country beyond, and could see my house and garden far away behind, glittering in the sunshine; and in front of us lay the forest, with its vistas of pines stretching away into infinity, and a drive through it of fourteen miles before we reached the sea. It was a hoar-frost day, and the forest was an enchanted forest leading into fairyland, and though Irais and I have been there often before, and always thought it beautiful, yet yesterday we stood under the final arch of frosted trees, struck silent by the sheer loveliness of the place. For a long way out the sea was frozen, and then there was a deep blue line, and a cluster of motionless orange sails; at our feet a narrow strip of pale yellow sand; right and left the line of sparkling forest; and we ourselves standing in a world of white and diamond traceries. The stillness of an eternal Sunday lay on the place like a benediction.’

From ‘Elizabeth and her German Garden’ by Elizabeth Von Arnim

* * * * * * * * *

‘Volterra’ by Mary-Louise Martin

* * * * * * * * *

‘It was English, and the wych-elm that she saw from the window was an English tree. No report had prepared her for its peculiar glory. It was neither warrior, nor lover, nor god; in none of these roles do the English excel. It was a comrade, bending over the house, strength and adventure in its roots, but in its utmost fingers tenderness, and the girth, that a dozen men could not have spanned, became in the end evanescent, till pale bud clusters seemed to float in the air.’

From ‘Howard’s End 

* * * * * * * * *

‘Apple Tree Branches’ by Elizabeth Boott Duvenec

* * * * * * * * *

The green elm with the one great bough of gold
Lets leaves into the grass slip, one by one, —
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small milk-white,
Harebell and scabious and tormentil,
That blackberry and gorse, in dew and sun,
Bow down to; and the wind travels too light
To shake the fallen birch leaves from the fern;
The gossamers wander at their own will.
At heavier steps than birds’ the squirrels scold.
The rich scene has grown fresh again and new
As Spring and to the touch is not more cool
Than it is warm to the gaze; and now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful,
Were I some other or with earth could turn
In alternation of violet and rose,
Harebell and snowdrop, at their season due,
And gorse that has no time not to be gay.
But if this be not happiness, — who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.

Edward Thomas

* * * * * * * * *

‘Trees’ by Léon Spilliaert

* * * * * * * * *

‘When she went out into the dark kitchen to fix her plants for the night, she used to stand by the window and look out at the white fields, or watch the currents of snow whirling over the orchard. She seemed to feel the weight of all the snow that lay down there. The branches had become so hard that they wounded your hand if you but tried to break a twig. And yet, down under the frozen crusts, at the roots of the trees, the secret of life was still safe, warm as the blood in one’s heart; and the spring would come again! Oh, it would come again!’

From ‘O Pioneers’ by Willa Cather

* * * * * * * * *


3 thoughts on “Trees: A Collection

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s