A pin oak grips its leaves, long turned to brown
And hanging against the frosts and deepening chill,
Into December still it holds them on
When all the trees around have let them fall.
The envied flowers have gone for many a day
Whose beauty struck the solemn oak to shame,
The maples’ burst of color has passed away,
And still it clings, still wishing a show of flame.
The freezing Winter wind must come and tear
The bitter rags from every branch at last,
And stripped, the ancient structure must appear,
Laid open to the Sun and to the blast.
Now creaks and moans the voice of Autumn’s roars
-- And before that the Spring’s awakening --
In still days only hears the squirrel’s chores,
And shivers when the keen wind starts to sing.
And brilliant Winter sunrise now will come,
And the thousand branches tossing in the wind
Will glow like lucent fans backlit by sun,
Gleaming ebony of the rarest kind.
Through blackened arches and the shining air
The unobstructed sight will look away
And see so clearly, coldly trembling there
The Annunciation of a Winter day.
And wanderers from the beaten road who gaze Through the moving lattice branches at the sky Will be haunted by the hush of grace for days And the turning light of far eternity.
Paul Gallagher is a poet, translator and also an economics journalist. He lives in Virginia with his wife. Paul has spent much of his life fighting for the revival of classical poetry and classical culture. See his other works on Keats and Shelley as well as more of his poetry here.