Twelve trees and poetry
On the first day of each month, over the period of a year, I photographed the trees outside my window.
Here are the photos I took over the past twelve months together with extracts from poems that reflect each month and the season of the year.
Thus having prepared their buds
against a sure winter
the wise trees
stand sleeping in the cold.
William Carlos Williams
The cold grows colder, even as the days
grow longer, February’s mercury vapor light
buffing but not defrosting the bone-white
ground, crusty and treacherous underfoot.
What did the thrushes know? Rain, snow, sleet, hail,
Had kept them quiet as the primroses.
They had but an hour to sing. On boughs they sang,
On gates, on ground; they sang while they changed perches
And while they fought, if they remembered to fight:
So earnest were they to pack into that hour
Their unwilling hoard of song before the moon
Grew brighter than the clouds.
Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful spring.
The driving boy beside his team
Will o’er the may month beauty dream
And cock his hat and turn his eye
On flower and tree and deep’ning skye
And oft bursts loud in fits of song
And whistles as he reels along
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
And if I woo from yonder trees
A breath of coolness for my brow,
They’ve none to give—not e’en a breeze
Rustles amid their foliage now;
Yes, hush! there stirred a leaf, but no,
Tis only some poor, panting bird,
With silenced note, head drooping low,
That ’mid the shady green boughs stirred.
Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon
In the mute August afternoon
They trembled to some undertune
Of music in the silver air;
Great pleasure was it to be there
Till green turned duskier and the moon
Coloured the corn-sheaves like gold hair.
Algernon Charles Swinburne
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.
But none of all this beauty
Which floods the earth and air
Is unto me the secret
Which makes September fair.
Helen Hunt Jackson
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
They say it is the month of death,
But I have never seen such beauty in decay.
Remains of Autumn,
Cling to the branches,
And the Earth is painted a thousand shades of red.
It is full winter now: the trees are bare,
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear
The autumn’s gaudy livery whose gold
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true
To the green doublet;