The Image of Wood

“The image of wood has appeared often enough in English verse. It has indeed appeared so often that it has gathered a good deal of verse into itself; so that it has become a great forest where, with long leagues of changing green between them, strange episodes of high poetry have place. Thus in one part there are the lovers of a midsummer night, or by day a duke and his followers, and in another men behind branches so that the wood seems moving, and in another a girl separated from her two lordly young brothers, and in another a poet listening to a nightingale but rather dreaming richly of the grand art than exploring it, and there are other inhabitants, belonging even more closely to the wood, dryads, fairies, an enchanter’s rout. The forest itself has different names in different tongues—Westermain, Arden, Birnam, Broceliande; and in places there are separate trees names, such as that on the outskirts against which a young Northern poet saw a spectral wanderer leaning, or, in the unexplored centre of which only rumours reach even poetry, Igdrasil of one myth, or the Trees of Knowledge and Life of another. So that indeed the whole earth seems to become this one enormous forest, and our longest and most stable civilizations are only clearings in the midst of it.”

Charles Williams (1943), ‘The Figure of Beatrice’

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"There in the woods of the heart,
Apart, alone,
Magic will bring the starlight
From sleeping stone;
Exhalations of beauty
Where silence has grown"