“The boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden…and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey.”
J R R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Bk II, 6
Unless the star-struck moon rising between glinting trees
Has made me mad, I think the birch & linden woods are full
Of whisperings as much as moonlight.
So, maybe, if we walk out here tonight,
We’ll see elves slender as the silver trunks,
Wistful for the world we lost—oh—long ago
When we chose to peel & carve & chop away
The papery bark of Yggdrasil, the world’s great Tree;
To split earth’s spangled rings of quartz, feldspar & silica.
In the sweep of curving blackened twigs,
In the weep of sprigs still wintry dark,
In the burned-out candle-sparks of last year’s catkins,
Quick, pencilled lines define themselves.
The golden lime & silver birch-trees quiver, shiver, shimmer
Until we listen to the murmur of an ancient mystery;
Quake, shake, coruscate
Until we hear the brittle singing voices
Of the glittering sylvan folk.
Pearl bark curls back, unfurls, cracks.
Ink-etched, frosted, black, bleached,
Trees stretch & taper, elongate, all dancing grace.
From saffron & cinnamon dust the night woods wake.
© Lizzie Ballagher