The Shady Forest John Clare, February 1847
‘Tis beautiful sunshine and beautiful skies
That please me the best wheresoever I go.
In the sweet shaded forest ‘tis there my heart lies
Not needing a friend – or dreading a foe.
O the sweet shady forest, how sweet the green seems,
So full of the summer and wild flowers’ dreams.
My heart has no malice for none of mankind,
My heart feels no envy wherever I go;
But I fly to green solitude’s treat for my mind,
And the sweet shady forest my image will show,
There’ll I’ll live in its green, and in nature’s own plan,
And where nothing hurts nature I then feel I’m a man.
The Trees are Down by Charlotte Mew, from ‘The Rambling Sailor’ .1929
‘-and he cried with a loud voice: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees – ‘Revelation
They are cutting down the great plane-trees at the end of the gardens.
For days there has been the grate of the saw, the swish of the branches as they fall,
The crash of the trunks, the rustle of trodden leaves,
With the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoa’, the loud common talk, the loud common laughs of the men, above it all.
I remember one evening of a long past Spring
Turning in at a gate, getting out of a cart, and finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive.
I remember thinking: alive or dead, a rat was a god-forsaken thing,
But at least, in May, that even a rat should be alive.
The week’s work here is as good as done. There is just one bough
On the roped bole, in the fine grey rain,
Green and high
And lonely against the sky.
(Down now! -)
And but for that,
If an old dead rat
Did once, for a moment, unmake the Spring, I might never have thought of him again.
It is not for a moment the Spring is unmade to-day;
These were great trees, it was in them from root to stem:
When the men with the ‘Whoops’ and the ‘Whoas’ have carted the whole of
the whispering loveliness away
Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.
It is going now, and my heart has been struck with the hearts of the planes;
Half my life it has beat with these, in the sun, in the rains, In the March wind, the May breeze,
In the great gales that came over to them across the roofs from the great seas.
There was only a quiet rain when they were dying;
They must have heard the sparrows flying,
And the small creeping creatures in the earth where they were lying –
But I, all day, I heard an angel crying:
‘Hurt not the trees.’
Trees in the Garden D H Lawrence, written 1929 (July?) at Lichtental
Ah in the thunder air
How still the trees are!
And the lime-tree, lovely and tall, every leaf silent
Hardly looses even a last breath of perfume.
And the ghostly, creamy coloured little trees of leaves
white, ivory white amog the rambling greens
how evanescent, variegated elder, she hesitates on the green grass
as if, in another moment, she would disappear
with all her grace of foam!
And the larch that is only a column, it goes up too tall to see:
and the balsam-pines that are blue with the grey-blue blueness of things from the sea,
and the young copper beech, its leaves rosy-red at the ends
how still they are together, they stand so still
in the thunder air, all strangers to one another
as the green grass glows upwards, strangers in the garden.
The Way Through the Woods Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods. . . .
But there is no road through the woods.