Poor Old Tree

When you planted me so long ago at the side of the track
Did you know I would outlive you?
Did you countenance the life that I would give
Not just to self replicate but in harbouring others?
From insects small to tawny owl nesting in my hollow.
Did you contemplate the years of shade
That I would afford travellers down this lane
From farm boy labourers to coaches drawn
And then to cranking cars and back to men?
Did you know that centuries later your ancestors
Would stand beneath me and wonder at my age
Drinking in the air that I expire and admire me
Almost as a generous god?
For the peace and the calm and the life I can give.

You would be sad to see how the world
Is treated with disdain
Your progeny, no longer guardians
But ravagers of nature
Greedy for expansion.
I weep and yearly drop my limbs,
Shrinking from the world at large
Drawing in on myself: to nothing.


Then drunk in their own excesses
They will choke on their own vomit
And there will be nothing you nor I can do.

Poem and photo copyright Englepip©

The Yew

Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. It is the tree originally known as yew, though with other related trees becoming known, it may now be known as common yew, English yew, or European yew.’ Wikipedia

Needles of toxicity
Hardened death bringer
But Celtic resurrector.

There are many myths surrounding the Yew tree. It is one of the most lon lived trees around and its wood is very dense and therefore good for things like furniture making. Yet every part except the fleshy part of the fruit is toxic to humans (although you would have to eat over 50 – 100 grams!). Some animals do not seem to get poisoned by eating yew.

There was tree in the graveyard at Selborne, Hampshire UK, which was reputedly about 1400 years old. Its girth was 26 feet. Unfortunately it fell in a gale in 1990 and did not recover.

The trees are evergreen although the needles do fall at times of the year. There are male and female trees and in the early Spring the male ‘flower’ send out clouds of pollen. The berries are not real berries but form small red fleshy blobs on the female trees.

Celtic mythology links the tree to both death and resurrection. This idea builds on the ancient Norse tradition of Yggdrasil, which in turn links back to the ancient world-wide stories of the Tree of Life or Tree of Knowledge.

References: https://www.ancient-yew.org/s.php/frequently-asked-questions/2/2 : https://www.hampshire-history.com/the-great-yew-of-selborne/:https://www.backyardnature.net/yew.htm