The Branch Delicate: Thoughts on White’s “Trees of Winter”

Image courtesy stock.xchng
Image courtesy stock.xchng

Trees of Winter

Oh, they are lovely trees that wait

   In the still hall of winter,

   Silent and good where the Good Planter

Fixed the root, wove the branch delicate.

 

Friendly the birches in the thin light

   By the frost sanctified,

   And here, too, silent by their side

I stand in the woods, listening, upright,

 

Hearing in the cold of the long pause

   Of the full year

   What trees intend that I should hear:

Interpretations of old laws…

 

Hearing the faint, the chickadee cry

   Of root that molders,

   Of branch bent, and leaf that withers

And little brown seed that does not die.

 

                                                     ~ by E.B. White

 

The Branch Delicate

by Rebekah Choat

The cadence of this poem transports me to a great open-roofed cathedral, in which the trees are the pillars and the Planter the unseen celebrant.  I stand under the bare, arching branches, the only human for miles, wrapped in a solitude dense with an almost-tangible Presence.

It is good to be here, just to breathe, just to be.   All shall be well.  It is good to know that this is the place ordained for me to be, for a season.  All shall be well.  It is good to commune with the trees in this vast stillness, to partake in the mystery of the falling leaf and the moldering root and the seed biding its time.  All manner of things shall be well.

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