Great Tree

547 Bird In The Tree

Close as a roof of tiles
wood pigeons’ home
house of cicadas
noon-tide canopy

you hold me in coolness
huge oak tree
master of birds
gatherer of silences
giver of seed,

keep for me the coolness
of the silent hours, great tree.
Yield it to others as they creep
burdened into your shade,
all sleepy bees
the belly-heavy hawk
and women over-laden.

Drinker of the dark
sun gatherer,take us in
wash the dry mind
with sounds of water
slow the labouring lungs
allow to the taxed heart ease.

Great intermediary between soil and air
permit this gross intrusion.
It is not so long we ask of you.

Paraphrase of Roscius of Byzantium

Roy Ashwell

Woodcut-Gwen Raverat