After long exploration I come to rest
in the inmost grove of the Giant Forest.
Nothing stirs; peace reigns in stillness.
A soft, thick carpet muffles all sound;
the trees soar so high from ground
that the sound of the wind rushing through their crowns
are as but a whisper drifting down
like tidings from some distant land
where man has never been.
I look up in rapture at the sight
of green-vaulted spaces filled with light,
a natural temple, a living cathedral
whose soaring arches span the heavens
like the World-Tree of ancient legend,
Yggdrasil, sprung from Earth’s very center,
its roots supporting her foundations,
its branches holding up the sky,
embracing all worlds and bridging between them;
a temple Creator and creature may meet in,
a living sign of the indwelling Presence
in tangible things one can touch and see,
yet with no loss of awe at the Mystery,
the sense of the Eternal’s transcendence
of all earthly dimensions and limits.
I stand at their bases; they’re wider than buildings!
The arms of ten men won’t stretch full around them.
I stand at a distance, but still there’s no guessing;
the eye has no yardstick, no scale to compare with.
The arms and the eyes of a man cannot measure
a thing seem sprung from another dimension.
Yet, there is harmony, balance, proportion,
reason, order, uncanny perfection,
such that I am given to wonder…
How can thousands of tons of organic matter
sprout from the ground and float as if weightless,
sailing high over the rest of the forest
like a cloud in the sky, a thing made of vapor?
And could they speak, what could they tell us?
Our lives, our works must seem to them mushrooms
sprung up overnight and gone in a morning;
we high-metabolic chattering primates
caught up in the whirl of an sudden brainstorm,
spinning out phantomy webs of ideas,
inscriptions and images, cities and temples
rising and falling while these remain standing,
rooting and growing secure through the ages…
How can we commune with such as these?
Their line is among the oldest still living;
dinosaurs may have fed on their branches.
Some are as old as our civilizations,
seedlings sprung when Pharoah ruled Egypt,
in vigor of youth when David sang praises,
already great when Christ walked among us,
much as they are when the white man came,
bridging millenia, epochs together.
Time’s very substance, the Earth’s living record,
the witness of the past in the present,
scattering cones, the seeds of futures.