Monday, February 6, 2012

Ode to the Willow-tree

On the lawn a feathered network
Sprawls beneath summer-blue skies
Where I danced away my childhood
'gainst the backdrop of its sighs
Beneath the dissonant vibration
Of locust minuet
A montage begins playing
A sweet, somnolent duet
And from the throats of a phantasmal throng
I hear the notes of the willow-tree song

Earth, a dark spectral lies sleeping
Polished by low-lights of the  moon
But why is the silence weeping
A lonesome, yet comforting tune
Out of the mist on the field at my side
And out of the years left behind
A low sweeping melody rolls like a tide
Over the shore in my mind
As I hear fingers of golden-green limbs
Strumming the languor of willow-tree hymns

It echoes the hush of a summer-soft rain
Washing the darkness with tears
Or taming the gleam of July’s dusty lane
Trickling across hastening years
A song of my childhood to haunt the midnight
When everyone lies fast asleep
A swaying of passion and genteel delight
As I hear the old willow weep
Lyrics of enchantment and melancholy
In the pining lament of the old willow-tree

© Janet Martin

When I grew up we had two gigantic willow trees in our yard…
Sometimes late at night I hear a vivid echo of their song…a low-sighing tremor
fingering the air.


  1. When I was a kid, we had a weeping willow on the lot line shared with a neighbor. I remember using these willow branches for whips when we played cowboys! And it was also a most wonderful tree to climb!!

  2. It was a great climbing tree once you were up in it. I think I would faint to see my own children climb as high as we did...yes, we had whips for cops and robbers,and we would dash then grab an armful of branches, lift our feet and twirl...the more speed the better the twirl:)or 'swing'. we would sit in its shade podding peas...sometimes all day when there were 10 bushels!...or husk corn or play games...

  3. Janet ~ I've always thought of willow trees as magical and mysterious, and your poem definitely reinforces that for me. I read it and envisioned warm summer evening breezes. So beautiful! We have a row of pines on one side of our property. They make a very distinct sound when the breeze blows through... not sure if it's the same as a willow, but it's beautiful as well ~ like whispering. Hope you are well :) Have a great day!

  4. Hi Megan,

    WE have a row of pine trees as well. It may sound corny but there is a different, yes pine trees whisper...willow trees sigh, sometimes with a sweeping quiver. The tree was right outside my bedroom window. I think that is why the sound is engrained in my head. i was one of those kids that had trouble sleeping and I remember I felt like the tree was a companion when the whole world was asleep.

    We are well. the winter is unlike ANY in my memory. Almost no snow right now!

  5. Willow trees have punctuated my life, too, so I really enjoyed your evocation. We planted one at our new house 5 years ago, and it shows few signs of weeping as it should, unlike the ones I remember from my childhood.

  6. Viv, I want to plant a willow tree but my husband does NOT! He doesn't hear any weeping or music. He simply sees a tree that leaves a mess on the ground;)) I hope your willow 'learns to weep'.

  7. I do like that locust minuet.

    nice one.


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