Today we reached the end of the alphabet, with a poetry reading in the Queen Mother’s memorial pavilion (see here). It is a surreal little building, lined with shells and cones, and I had not had a chance to use it until today.
The rain provided the perfect excuse to shelter in it, though by the time we had finished reading, we had brought the sun out. Perfect for a walk, in alphabetical order, through the trees. There were a couple of cheats to save having to cross the entire gardens and back to see one plant. I’ll be asking the tree curator if there’s any chance of them putting some gorse, heather and blackthorn near the fairy wood. Or maybe I should just ask the fairies?
I read all my tree poems, which you can read from the Gaelic Tree Alphabet pull- down menu – and please feel free to add your own. There are also a bunch of titbits of folklore, ecological and practical factoids about each tree species there.
We then read favourite poems by other poets, working our way once more through the alphabet, before going to visit the trees themselves.
My choice of tree poems is as follows:
Birch: A’ Chraobh Beithe by Maoilios Cambeul
Rowan: Rowan Berry by Norman MacCaig
Alder: Alder by Kathleen Jamie
Willow: autumn evening by Julie Johnstone
Ash: Trees and Stars by William Heinesen
Hawthorn: During Dinner by Robin Robertson
Oak: I pause beneath the old oak one rainy day by Olav H Hauge
Holly: Holly by A R Ammons
Hazel: The Hazel Trees by Hadewijch of Antwerp
Bramble: Shrubbery by Jo Shapcott
Ivy: Gort by Aonghas Macneacail
Blackthorn: Sloe Gin by Seamus Heaney
Elder: Sambucus Nigra by Colin Will
Pine: After Basho by Alan Spence
Gorse: Whins by George Gunn
Heather: Scotland Small? Hugh MacDiarmid
Aspen: Binsey Poplars by Gerald Manley Hopkins
Yew: Churchyard Song by Liz Lochhead
All these (plus a couple of hundred more) will be in the anthology, Into the Forest, which will be published later this year, by Saraband.
Other favourite tree poems anyone?