We have just spent a happy weekend decorating the house for the festive season, so it seemed appropriate that the second in my ‘Poetry for Christmas‘ series is the lovely ‘little tree‘ by the innovative poet e.e. cummings, first published in 1920. Written in a child’s voice, it is a tender poem, expressing the love of children for everything relating to the festive season. The poet seeks to reassure the tree that although it has lost its forest companions, it will still be surrounded by love and warmth, and will be decorated when that magical box, coming out of the loft for just a short period each year, is opened. ‘every finger shall have its ring/and there won’t be a single place dark and unhappy’. Isn’t that an expression of love and hope for all of humanity? I would like to think so.
little tree by e.e.cummings
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don’t be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i’ll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you’re quite dressed
you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they’ll stare!
oh but you’ll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we’ll dance and sing
What do you think? I think there is a touch of sentimentality about it in the last two verses, but the simplicity of the language Cummings (should it be a capital? I am never sure…) uses gives it a sense of reality to compensate. The voice is authentically childlike in its expression of the magic and beauty the tree represents.
As always, I would love to know your favourite poems, in this case the seasonal ones that stay with you, perhaps all year round…