Seeing the wood for the trees

Call it a wood

Call it a wood
If you will,
But this is my cathedral;
A greater glory captured in a single hornbeam bud
Or papery anemone
Than any Caen stone vaulting
Or stained-glass acreage.
And this is my study;
These living trees inspire more lines
Than the dead wood of my desk.
And this is my schoolroom;
These mute tutors hold the wisdom
Of the earth, and every lesson worth the learning
Of life and death, of failing and returning.
And this is my hospital;
In these soft scents and shaded paths
Lie sovereign remedies
For all my pains of heart and mind.
And this is my sanctuary;
The fears that stalk my nights and days
Dare not follow when I claim
Protection beneath this canopy.
And this is my stronghold;
A bulwark against the madness,
The ugliness, the noise
Of all that lies outside:
Call that the world.

16 thoughts on “Seeing the wood for the trees

  1. I love this Nick – it leaves me with a contented feeling.
    It brought to mind a poem by Raymond Carver called “Where Water Comes Together with other Water” which expresses similar sentiments although based on a different facet of nature

    Both his poem and yours mirror how I feel when I sit by the sea

    • If you can’t find it on Google Nick (I couldn’t) then it is in a new poetry anthology – Being Human – just published so all good bookshops will have it in stock. The poem is on page 72.
      You don’t have to buy the book of course – just read the poem!! I have read a lot of poetry that way 🙂 Although I did buy this anthology

  2. Lovely idea Nick, and has a beautiful flow to it. I find those opening lines are a very strong draw, and there are some great lines all through (“the dead wood of my desk”, for instance). May I make a suggestion? Would the last line be stronger for “call that the world”? I might be wrong. But the picture is clear and splendid!

  3. As I began to read this my mind raced to the line “This is the forest primeval, bearded with moss…”…how such places are the real cathedrals in that they place into perspective much of the life we live…a wonderful poem!

  4. Amen and amen and amen. Lovely transmuation of all those formal religious symbols and architectural features into the cathedral of the wood. Have you read Wendell Berry’s collection of forest meditations, “A Timbered Choir”? They are poems he wrote on the Sabbath in the same green chapel you adore. I write today of a pew in that church which stands next to the sea. Great work, Brendan

    • I’ve just found it on Amazon – plus a whole stack of his other work. I have a lot of reading to do…thanks both for your wonderful comment, and the recommendation. I’ve also just read your beautiful, bewitching poem about the ‘esplumoir’ – what a wonderful word that is, and what a marvellous place it sounds.

  5. This poem leaves me wanting to get out into the countryside and inhale some of the fresh air!

    There are so many beautiful and comforting words in this poem – definately one of my favourites since reading here in the land of blogosphere! xx

  6. Pingback: The pleasures of your poetry | Oran's Well

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