Strange it is, and quiet.
The pendent icicles, agleam with inner fire,
shame the winter sun,
and great smooth masses of unbroken white
soften the shadows.
The dreams of sleeping trees take substance
and pervade the air surrounding them,
until a dome of iridescent beauty
forms, takes shape, reflects
the inner loveliness of things to be,
of beauty past, of beauty yet to come.
Such is the dream of trees.
It is not deathless,
No, for even Woods
were born of sprouting shoots,
and woods decay,
fall prey
to predatory man and fungoid enemies.
They have their span like other living things,
but live in centuries, and mere decades
are but incidental to their life.
So long a life
so long a time to dream.
The forest past; a million years,
each year a spring, a summer, and the dream,
A forest of years, a wood of years to come.
Each year is but a day.
The sun,
alternate with the moon,
bands the flickering sky,
and moving things are born and die,
are born and die alas,
How soon can pass
the dreaming life of trees.
The rise and fall of sap, a pulse.
A heartbeat, leaf and fall.
All this I see in the snow-clad wood.
Slow-moving time has crystalised;
and I, to trees, do not exist,
so briefly do I move and breathe
beneath their icy calm.
How old they are, these Woods!
or We
so very young!
H.St.Vincent Beechey.
January 1956