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Location: Austin, TX, United States

Scholar, Writer, Mother, Dreamer. Editor of Luminarium, an online library for English Literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fairytale Poetry: The Tree Nymph

I wrote the following poem a few years ago, inspired by two events which occurred at roughly the same time. The first event was that I saw a documentary on J. R. R. Tolkien, which talked in depth about Tolkien's grief at seeing the English country-side destroyed. The theme of man's destruction of natural, living beauty runs through The Lord of the Rings; think, for example, of the war of the Ents, and the ravaging of the Shire. The second event was that the house a few houses down was sold to a couple who decided not only to level the existing building, but to kill every single tree on their lot — more than twenty beautiful 80 yr-old trees! The lot looked raped and pillaged afterwards, with the corpses of the once-noble trees ignobly strewn by the roadside. I grieved, and if the thought of prison hadn't deterred me, I would have beaten those people up, I was so angry. Needless to say, I never made any effort to befriend those treekillers.

What made me think of that poem today and to decide to post it despite it not being very good, was a lovely post by SzélsőFa on the very same subject. This is the only fairytale poem that I've written in the present tense, an exercise I found quite difficult. My only regrets are that the poem is not better and that I never found an artist to illustrate it, as I had some other poems illustrated. Perhaps one day.


Golden leaves on the water fall
So still and dark and deep,
While underneath an old oak tall
A tree nymph small doth weep.

The woods are quiet with the night,
No crickets can be heard;
The purple fading of the light
Is greeted by not a bird.

With each spiralling oak tree leaf
The sorrowed sylph glows dimmer;
Such is the bounty of her grief
She sees not the new stars glimmer.

A grave gray owl alights nearby
To the sylph and her waning tree;
Being oldest and wisest, with a sigh
He questions the tree maid wee.

"What ails you, little sylvan lass,
Why is your heart so sore?"
She lifts her eyes as green as grass
And whispers, "Nevermore."

"Never again shall my eyes behold
The sight of my love so dear—
Never again on winter nights cold
Shall his treesongs reach my ear.

"He loved each tree in this verdant wood,
He tended each acorn with care—
There never was a soul so good,
Nor ever a sylphman so fair.

"On sunny days we gamboled wild
Amidst the alder trees;
On rainy days the winds grew mild
When we sang under the leaves.

"The humans for their greedy gain
Have chopped and hewn down his home;
And with his tree, he too was slain,
I buried him in the loam.

"And, mourning, I now say goodbye
To the forest and my tree,
For without my love, I wish to die
And join Eternity."

The sylvan maid had wept bitter tears
While telling her heartlorn tale;
Firmly confirming the owl's fears,
She begins to grow further pale.

"Sylvan lass, this you must not do!
You must live on and persever—
Your tree and your sylvan kin need you,
It is wrong to forsake them, ever.

"Your love would have wished you to carry on
And to guard your forest green—
For in these woods your love lives on
In his spirit, though never seen.

"These trees are the children you have raised
From nut and seed to full growth;
If you but look, you will be amazed
At what's sprung from your true-love's oath."

At the owl's words, the sylph looks around
And sees, what he says is true—
For everywhere the woods abound
With oak, and elm, and yew.

The trees they had planted in elder days
Reach high into the skies,
And all around her the forest sways
In testament to their lives.

A smile like dewdrops in the spring
Spreads slowly over her face,
And sweetly the sylph begins to sing
And from tree to tree to pace.

She knows her love is ever there,
In her heart and in their trees—
For true love such as they did share
Simply could not ever cease.

And the owl, seeing her shine once more,
Relieved and elated takes flight,
And feeling his own owl spirits soar,
He hoots down "Goodbye and Goodnight."

(©2004 Anniina Jokinen. All rights reserved.)

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Blogger Marja-Leena said...

This really is lovely, Anniina! A 'green' fairy tale poem.

March 10, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Kiitos, Marja-Leena!

March 10, 2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

Wonderful! Also, I was amazed by how similar thoughts were evoked within us both :)

And, unlike my writing, it really is a poem and it has a positive ending.

I see that this is your first label for eco-spiritualism! I wish you some more to follow!

March 10, 2007 1:00 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

I think I may be a coward. Or lazy. Or a lazy coward. There are several issues I feel strongly about, but as you note, I've kept the blog pretty apolitical and neutral. It seems I'd rather post comic strips than comment on the state of the world. Or perhaps the reason is that the state of the world makes me so sad if I dwell on it too much, that I'd rather create an emotional safe haven for myself here. I'm not sure. I'll try to be more active in posting "meaningful" posts. Thanks for the nice comment :)

March 10, 2007 1:09 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

I think I've been there before...or in your shoes? (how does the saying go?)

And I also tried to shut the outer world out: politics and such. But they keep creeping in resulting in some furious entries like that of today.

March 10, 2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

SF - Yeah, both "I've been there before" and "I've been in your shoes" are correct usages.

I think it's the planet Saturn in the night sky which has resulted in many furious and powerful posts on a lot of the blogs I've read lately. I think it's good - perhaps it's better to get angry and active than sad and complacent.

March 10, 2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 10, 2007 2:25 PM  
Blogger SzélsőFa said...

Oh, really?
Are you so in touch with the state of stars and constellations? Wow. Your observation is an interesting FACT. I tend to believe in things like that...
Thanks for the advice on word usage!

March 10, 2007 2:54 PM  
Blogger Anniina said...

Actually, I'm not that in touch with knowing the stars, usually - I just happened to read my horoscope and it had an overview of what the general planetary influences were this week.

March 10, 2007 3:05 PM  
Blogger Mophia said...

i think the dark matter of the universe is making me tired.

I like the poem :)

March 11, 2007 12:27 AM  

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