I didn't have the heart to go see it right away, but yesterday, toward sunset, I paid it a visit. There it was: laid out upon the wide green meadow, its roots open to the air, its trunk shattered and splintered, bits and pieces of it scattered about. Silence. Stillness. In all those years I had never known it to be so silent and so still. Ah, friend, I foolishly took it for granted you would always be standing there. The thought of this never occurred to me.
To be a giant and keep quiet about it,
To stay in one's own place;
To stand for the constant presence of process
And always to seem the same;
To be steady as a rock and always trembling,
Having the hard appearance of death
With the soft, fluent nature of growth,
One's Being deceptively armored,
One's Becoming deceptively vulnerable;
To be so tough, and take the light so well,
Freely providing forbidden knowledge
Of so many things about heaven and earth
For which we should otherwise have no word --
Poems or people are rarely so lovely,
And even when they have great qualities
They tend to tell you rather than exemplify
What they believe themselves to be about,
While from the moving silence of trees,
Whether in storm or calm, in leaf and naked,
Night or day, we draw conclusions of our own,
Sustaining and unnoticed as our breath,
And perilous also -- though there has never been
A critical tree -- about the nature of things.
Howard Nemerov, Mirrors and Windows (University of Chicago Press 1958).
Am I being "sentimental"? Was it "just" a tree? Well, the sadness of loss comes as it comes.
John Aldridge (1905-1983), "Beslyn's Pond, Great Bardfield"