Tree of Life: Upside Down

30 Nov 2023 | Church | 0 comments

There is a tree grows upside down,

Its roots are in the sky;

Its lower branches reach the earth

When amorous winds are nigh.


One lone bough there starkly hangs

A Man just crucified,

And all the other branches bear

The choice fruits of the Bride.


When Pleasure’s wind goes frisking past,

Unhallowed by a prayer,

It swirls dead leaves from earth-born trees,

Old growths of pride and care.


The gracious fruits are hidden by

These leaves of human stain;

The crucified, beneath his load

Shudders as if in pain.


But swift springs down a credal wind,

It thrills through all the boughs;

The dead leaves scatter and are lost:

The Christ renews his vows.


His hands direct the Spirit’s wind

Branch after branch to shake;

The Bride’s fruit drops, and at the touch

Elected hearts awake.


Jack Clemo (1916-94), The Winds

Notes from the Compiler

'We cannot see beauty when we have as yet seen nothing else.' These are the question-begging words of Jack Clemo who grew up as an un-romantic poet, son of a worker in the bleak Cornish clay-pits. Deaf at the age of 20, and completely blind in 1955, Rowan Williams (1950- ), former Archbishop of Canterbury, described Clemo as 'an uncomfortable poet'; adding that he defies 'with extraordinary consistency any temptation to seek refuge in natural beauty or ritual order.' However as we can see in this poem, and perhaps in an 'upside down' tree, the spiritual beauty of the fallen 'fruits' which, Clemo says, 'awake' with the touch of the risen Christ.


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