O, a lush green English meadow – it's there that I would lie –
A skylark singing overhead, scarce present to the eye,
And a row of wind-blown poplars against an English sky.
The elm is aspiration, and death is in the yew,
And beauty dwells in every tree from Lapland to Peru;
But there s magic in the poplars when the wind goes through.
When the wind goes through the poplars and blows them silver white,
The wonder of the universe is flashed before my sight:
I see immortal visions: I know a god's delight.
I catch the secret rhythm that steals along the earth,
That swells the bud, and splits the burr, and gives the oak its girth,
That mocks the blight and canker with its eternal birth.
It wakes in me the savor of old forgotten things,
Before "reality" had marred the child s imaginings:
I can believe in fairies – I see their shimmering wings.
I see with the clear vision of that untainted prime,
Before the fool's bells jangled in and Elfland ceased to chime,
That sin and pain and sorrow are but a pantomime –
A dance of leaves in ether, of leaves threadbare and sere,
From whose decaying husks at last what glory shall appear
When the white winter angel leads in the happier year.
And so I sing the poplars; and when I come to die
I will not look for jasper walls, but cast about my eye
For a row of wind-blown poplars against an English sky.
Bernard Freeman Trotter (1890-1917)
From A Canadian Twilight, and other poems of war and peace, 1917
[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]
Bernard Freeman Trotter biography