A Short Ode
All things then stood before us
as they were,
Not in comparison,
But each most rare;
The 'tree, of many, one,'
The lock of hair,
The weir in the morning sun,
The hill in the darkening air,
Each in its soleness, then and there,
Created one; that one, creation's care.
Edmund Blunden, A Hong Kong House: Poems 1951-1961 (Collins 1962).
The quotation in line 5 ("tree, of many, one") comes from William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood":
But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
Does Blunden intend "A Short Ode" to be a response to Wordsworth's "Ode"? Perhaps, if we attend closely to the beautiful particulars of the World, we shall discover that "the visionary gleam" has not fled, never flees.
Hubert Lindsay Wellington (1879-1967)
"Overhanging Tree, Frampton Mansell" (1915)
One way to enter the greenness of the overarching canopy is to begin at the outer edge, focusing upon a single leaf, then moving your way slowly inward and upward. Leaf by leaf, spray by spray, bough by bough, until you reach the sky. "Each in its soleness, then and there,/Created one; that one, creation's care."
On the other hand, there is something to be said for simply losing oneself (or one's Self) in the trembling green constellations overhead. The key to this approach is to avoid all thinking. As I have said here on more than one occasion: thinking is highly overrated. The more thinking, the less feeling. The more thinking, the less beauty and truth.
Till darkness lays a hand on these gray eyes
And out of man my ghost is sent alone,
It is my chance to know that force and size
Are nothing but by answered undertone.
No beauty even of absolute perfection
Dominates here -- the glance, the pause, the guess
Must be my amulets of resurrection;
Raindrops may murder, lightnings may caress.
There I was tortured, but I cannot grieve;
There crowned and palaced -- visibles deceive.
That storm of belfried cities in my mind
Leaves me my vespers cool and eglantined.
From love's wide-flowering mountain-side I chose
This sprig of green, in which an angel shows.
Edmund Blunden, Near and Far (Cobden-Sanderson 1929).
William Ranken (1881-1941), "Beech Trees, Carmichael"
In the meantime, as you gaze upward, one or more of the following events may occur. Two sparrows may circle the tree trunk, hopping through the dry summer grass as they peck at the ground, twittering. A crow may caw from one of the tall pine trees swaying on the other side of the field. A single brown leaf, perfectly symmetrical, may drift down and land at your feet. (Not a portent. Merely a leaf that falls through the sunlight of an August afternoon.)
"Each most rare."
A singing firework; the sun's darling;
Hark how creation pleads!
Then silence: see, a small gray bird
That runs among the weeds.
Edmund Blunden, Choice or Chance (Cobden-Sanderson 1934).
George Allsopp (b. 1911), "Wharfdale Landscape"