Welcome February with The Language of the Trees by Scottish Poet Charles MacKay

"This little obscure poem from the Scottish poet Charles MacKay seems an excellent way to usher in February."

We’re in the grips of winter now, and the trees dominate the landscape.

I thought I’d close today's show with a little poem about trees that I stumbled upon while doing tree research.

We’re learning more and more about trees thanks to folks like the great German forester and author Peter Wollhenben and his book The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World.

This little obscure poem from the Scottish poet Charles MacKay seems an excellent way to usher in February.

I heard the language of the trees,
In the noons of the early summer,
As the leaves were moved like rippling seas 
By the wind - a constant comer.

It came, and it went at its wanton will,
And evermore loved to dally 
With branch and flower, from the cope of the hill 
To the warm depths of the valley.

The sunlight glowed; the waters flowed;
The birds, their music chanted,
And the words of the trees on my senses fell,
By a Spirit of Beauty haunted:

Said each to each, in mystic speech,
The skies our branches nourish;
The world is good — the world is fair,
Let us enjoy and flourish!

Again, I heard the steadfast trees;
The wintry winds were blowing;
There seemed a roar as of stormy seas,
And of ships to the depths down-going.

And ever a moan through the woods was blown,
As the branches snapped asunder,
And the long boughs swung like the frantic arms 
Of a crowd in affright and wonder.

Heavily rattled the driving hail;
And storm and flood combining,
Laid bare the roots of mighty oaks 
Under the shingle twining.

Said tree to tree, “These tempests free 
Our sap and strength shall nourish;
Though the world be hard, though the world be cold,
We can endure and flourish.”

— Charles MacKay, Scottish poet, The Language of the Trees

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Charles MacKay
Charles MacKay

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