An ancient oak crooked countless gnarled quivering fingers,
beckoned to a child to explore the wildwood.
Inquisitive, the child proffered a few tentative steps, was awestruck
by a pedunculate oak's huge gaping hollowed mouth screaming age;
maybe it sang songs of joy,
or ululated howls of grief for owlets
having fledged or perished there,
its fallen leaves, tears shed.
Empathy with avian misfortune was overtaken by admiration
for this mighty symbol of England,
an affection born of a child's curiosity,
his love of Nature's gifts,
his respect for its occasional brutality.
He has seen those gifts of elm, oak and ash,
some of our Nation's most stalwart sentinels
stand steadfast against gale
and the blight of disease and decay,
has observed the transient seasons defined
by landscape's changing face,
bare and stern in Winter, become Summer's smile in May;
but this smile, no longer a child's, grimaces,
for our trees, Nature's treasures and our National heritage
face the grimmest of fates.
I, who was that child welcomed to the wildwood,
whom Nature beguiled,
who railed against Man's intrusiveness,
see Man, now, as the saviour, the benefactor
who can save our trees under assault from Nature itself,
from deadlier weapons, fungal infections,
that if left untreated,
portend a sadder fate,
though too late,
much too late
for our stately elms
and scattered ash.
© James Gordon
Now oaks at risk: The symbol of England is hit by two killer diseases
I have been writing poetry most of my life. I have always been interested in Nature and many of my poems reflect this as well as my art.