Forests A Little More Enchanted

I explored light last week, one form of which was the light that filters through trees in the woods. I love woods.  I like the illusion (just the illusion, mind you) of getting lost in the woods.

A forest is a perfect setting for a scene or even a whole book.  A tree is a place or a creature or a character.  How many times does a scene begin with a character lost, running, creeping, hiding, exploring in the woods?  And now, as the trees begin to change color with the new season, I’m sure we’re all noticing them a little more.

What do the woods mean to a story?  I’ll let others explain for me (I’m lazy like that).

“[Treebeard] led the way in under the huge branches of the trees. Old beyond guessing, they seemed. Great trailing beards of lichen hung from them, blowing and swaying in the breeze. Out of the shadows, the hobbits peeped, gazing back down the slope: little furtive figures that in the dim light looked like elf-children in the deeps of time peering out of the Wild Wood in wonder at their first Dawn.” ~ Tolkien, Two Towers

‘When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, 
      and sap is in the bough; 
When light is on the wild-wood stream, 
      and wind is on the brow; 

When stride is long, and breath is deep, 
      and keen on the mountain-air, 
Come back to me! come back to me, 
      and say my land is fair!’

~ Song to the Lost Entwives

“Awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Magician’s Nephew

“She stepped out from among their shifting confusion of lovely lights and shadows. A circle of grass, smooth as a lawn, met her eyes, with dark trees dancing all around it. And then –Oh Joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

“The trees bathed their great heads in the waves of the morning, while their roots were planted deep in gloom; save where on the borders of the sunshine broke against their stems, or swept in long streams through their avenues, washing with brighter hue all the leaves over which it flowed; revealing the rich brown of the decayed leaves and fallen pine-cones, and the delicate greens of the long grasses and tiny forests of moss that covered the channel over which it passed in the motionless rivers of light.”  ~ George MacDonald, Phantastes

The trees grew close together and were so leafy that he could get no glimpse of the sky. All the light was green light that came through the leaves: but there must have been a very strong sun overhead, for this green daylight was bright and warm. It was the quietest wood you could possibly imagine. There were no birds, no insects, no animals, and no wind. You could almost feel the trees growing. ~ C.S. Lewis, Magician’s Nephew

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” ~ A A Milne 

“She looked at a silver birch: it would have a soft, showery voice and would look like a slender girl, with hair blown all about her face and fond of dancing. She looked at the oak: he would be a wizened, but hearty, old man with a frizzled beard and warts on his fact and hands, with hair growing out of the warts. She looked at the beech under which she was standing. Ah! –she would be the best of all. She would be a gracious goddess, smooth and stately, the Lady of the Wood.” ~ C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” ~ Milne, Winnie the Pooh

“Great stems rose about me, uplifting a thick multitudinous roof above me of branches, and twigs, and leaves– the bird and insect world uplifted over mine, with its own landscapes, its own thickets, and paths, and glades, and dwellings; its own bird-ways and insect-delights. Great boughs crossed my path; great roots based the tree-columns, and mightily clasped the earth, strong to lift and strong to uphold. It seemed an old, old forest, perfect in forest ways and pleasure.” ~ MacDonald Phantastes

“[The fairy tale] stirs and troubles him (to his life-long enrichment) with the dim sense of something beyond his reach and, far from dulling or emptying the actual world, gives it a new dimension of depth. He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: The reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.” —C. S. Lewis, in Of Other Worlds”

I know I’ve read so many more quotes about forests and trees and woods, but now that I’m trying to come up with them, they elude me.  Perhaps you have one that you are attached to and would like to share?

For now, I will leave you with one last quote about a magical forest… of a slightly different mien:

“Be grateful you’re not in the forest in France
Where the average young person just hasn’t a chance

To escape from the perilous pants eating plants
But your pants are safe, you’re a fortunate guy
You ought to be shouting how lucky am I” ~ Dr. Seuss

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About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on September 26, 2012, in Art, Authors, Books, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Humor, Inspiration, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Middle Earth, Narnia, Photography, Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia, Travel, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Great pictures and love the poems that you’ve found that relate to forests.

  2. Whose woods these are I think I know . . .

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .

    Further quotation is, I trust, unnecessary.

  3. Hoo boy, I’ve got a bunch, rather narratively arranged now that I think about it:

    The Garden
    by Andrew Marvell

    How vainly men themselves amaze
    To win the palm, the oak, or bays;
    And their uncessant labors see
    Crowned from some single herb or tree,
    Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade
    Does prudently their toils upbraid;
    While all the flowers and trees do close
    To weave the garlands of repose.

    Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
    And Innocence, thy sister dear!
    Mistaken long, I sought you then
    In busy companies of men:
    Your sacred plants, if here below,
    Only among the plants will grow;
    Society is all but rude,
    To this delicious solitude.

    No white nor red was ever seen
    So amorous as this lovely green;
    Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
    Cut in these trees their mistress’ name.
    Little, alas, they know or heed,
    How far these beauties hers exceed!
    Fair trees! wheresoe’er your barks I wound
    No name shall but your own be found.

    When we have run our passion’s heat,
    Love hither makes his best retreat:
    The gods who mortal beauty chase,
    Still in a tree did end their race.
    Apollo hunted Daphne so,
    Only that she might laurel grow,
    And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
    Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

    What wondrous life is this I lead!
    Ripe apples drop about my head;
    The luscious clusters of the vine
    Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
    The nectarine and curious peach
    Into my hands themselves do reach;
    Stumbling on melons as I pass,
    Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

    Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
    Withdraws into its happiness:
    The mind, that ocean where each kind
    Does straight its own resemblance find;
    Yet it creates, transcending these,
    Far other worlds, and other seas;
    Annihilating all that’s made
    To a green thought in a green shade.

    Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,
    Or at some fruit-tree’s mossy root,
    Casting the body’s vest aside,
    My soul into the boughs does glide:
    There like a bird it sits and sings,
    Then whets and combs its silver wings;
    And, till prepared for longer flight,
    Waves in its plumes the various light.

    Such was that happy garden-state,
    While man there walked without a mate:
    After a place so pure and sweet,
    What other help could yet be meet!
    But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share
    To wander solitary there:
    Two paradises ’twere in one
    To live in Paradise alone.

    How well the skillful gard’ner drew
    Of flowers and herbs this dial new;
    Where from above the milder sun
    Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
    And, as it works, th’ industrious bee
    Computes its time as well as we.
    How could such sweet and wholesome hours
    Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

    Binsey Poplars
    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
    Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
    All felled, felled, are all felled;
    Of a fresh and following folded rank
    Not spared, not one
    That dandled a sandalled
    Shadow that swam or sank
    On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.

    O if we but knew what we do
    When we delve or hew —
    Hack and rack the growing green!
    Since country is so tender
    To touch, her being só slender,
    That, like this sleek and seeing ball
    But a prick will make no eye at all,
    Where we, even where we mean
    To mend her we end her,
    When we hew or delve:
    After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
    Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
    Strokes of havoc únselve
    The sweet especial scene,
    Rural scene, a rural scene,
    Sweet especial rural scene.

    Dust of Snow
    by Robert Frost

    The way a crow
    Shook down on me
    The dust of snow
    From a hemlock tree

    Has given my heart
    A change of mood
    And saved some part
    Of a day I had rued.

    Spring & Fall: To a Young Child
    by Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Margaret, are you grieving
    Over Goldengrove unleaving?
    Leaves, like the things of man, you
    With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
    Ah! as the heart grows older
    It will come to such sights colder
    By & by, nor spare a sigh
    Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
    And yet you wíll weep & know why.
    Now no matter, child, the name:
    Sorrow’s springs are the same.
    Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
    What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
    It is the blight man was born for,
    It is Margaret you mourn for.

    Poem in Advent
    by Sally Thomas

    At twilight the poplars, upright and naked,
    wear starlings like restless leaves. Unafflicted
    by the cold, they come and go in noisy shifts,
    filling the trees, free-falling into updrafts
    which lift them, corporate, voluntary smoke-rings
    to surf the air above the roofs: a smudge of wings,
    harbinger of every winter nightfall,
    the robin’s opposite, but never mournful
    as if winter were an absence, an antithesis
    to hope. Let the evening draw its noose
    tighter, let tires on the wet street
    sigh, From night you were created; unto night
    shall you return.
    Do you despair? The starling
    host circles, rises, falls, a black swirling
    on the sky, one winged mind come to roost
    where there’s no shelter, only wet branches tossed
    like skeleton frames ignited by the wind.
    Darkness, careful, cups them in its hand.

    Poem
    by Sally Thomas

    In the upstairs window, all is green.
    Now the pecan tree wears the palest mist
    Against the laurel’s dark all-season sheen,
    A weather of buds, each like an infant fist
    Repeated infinitely, or so it looks
    From this desk where, cheek nested in your hand,
    You look up from the winter of your books
    As if some voice had named you just now and
    Set you among the almost-flowering things
    Which form your view of a veiled and greening sky —
    No page but leaves, those infinite unfurlings.
    No life but that green rising from the dead.
    No story but the most familiar mystery,
    Everywhere, in the wet vein of the wood.

  4. Selections from J. R. Tolkiens “The Trees Kortirion”

    Your trees in summer you remember still:
    The willow by the spring, the beech on hill;
    The rainy poplars and the frowning yews
    Within your aged courts that muse
    In sombre splendour all the day,
    Until the firstling star comes glimmering,
    And flittermice go by on silent wing;
    Until the white moon slowly climbing sees
    In shadow fields the sleep enchanted trees
    Night-mantled all in silver-grey.
    Alalminor! Here was s your citadel,
    Ere summer from his bannered fortress fell;
    About you stood your host of elms:
    Green was their armour, tall and green their helms,
    High lord and captains of the trees.
    But summer wanes. Behold, Kortirion!
    The elms their full sail now have crowded on
    Ready to the winds, like masts amid the vale
    Of mighty ships too soon, too soon to sail
    To other days beyond these sunlit seas.

    ————————————————————

    The high-tide ebbs, the year will soon be spent;
    And all your trees, Kortirion, lament.
    At morn the whetstone rang upon the blad,
    At eve the grass and golden flowers were layed
    To whither, and the meadows bare.
    Now dimmed already comes the tardier dawn,
    Paler the sunlight fingers creep across the lawn.
    The days are passing. Gone like moths the nights
    When white wings fluttering danced like satellites
    Round tapers in the windless air.
    Lammas is gone. The Harvest moon has waned.
    Summer is dieing that so briefly reigned.
    Now the proud elms at last begin to quail,
    Their leaves uncounted tremble and grow pale,
    Seeing afar the icy spears
    Of winter march to battle with the sun.
    When bright All-Hallows fades, their day is done,
    And born on wings of amber wan they fly
    In heedless winds beneath the sullen sky,
    And fall like dying birds upon the meres.

    ——————————————————-

    Now are your trees, old grey Kortirion,
    Through pallid mists seen rising tall and wan,
    Like vessels vague that slowly drift afar
    Out, out to empty seas beyond the bar
    Of cloudy ports forlorn;
    Leaving behind forever havens loud,
    Wherein their crews a while help feasting proud
    In lordly ease, they now like windy ghosts
    Are wafted by cold airs to friendless coasts,
    And silent down the tide are borne.
    Bare has your realm become, Kortirion,
    Stripped of its raiment, and its splendour gone.
    Like lighted tapers in a darkened fane
    The funeral candles of the Silver Wain
    Now flare above the fallen year.
    Winter is come. Beneath the barren sky
    The Elves are silent. But they do not die!
    Here waiting they endure the winter fell
    And Silence. Here too I will dwell;
    Kortirion, I will meet the winter here.

    Sorry I didn’t type the whole poem: it is rather long (137 lines) and the first time I tried the computer lost it halfway through. If you want to read the rest though, find a copy of “The Book of Lost Tales Pt. 1” (which is also the first book of the History of Middle Earth).
    The willow by the spring, the beech on hill;
    The rainy poplars and the frowning yews
    Within your aged courts that muse
    In sombre splendour all the day,
    Until the firstling star comes glimmering,
    And flittermice go by on silent wing;
    Until the white moon slowly climbing sees
    In shadow fields the sleep enchanted trees
    Night-mantled all in silver-grey.
    Alalminor! Here was s your citadel,
    Ere summer from his bannered fortress fell;
    About you stood your host of elms:
    Green was their armour, tall and green their helms,
    High lord and captains of the trees.
    But summer wanes. Behold, Kortirion!
    The elms their full sail now have crowded on
    Ready to the winds, like masts amid the vale
    Of mighty ships too soon, too soon to sail
    To other days beyond these sunlit seas.

    ————————————————————

    The high-tide ebbs, the year will soon be spent;
    And all your trees, Kortirion, lament.
    At morn the whetstone rang upon the blad,
    At eve the grass and golden flowers were layed
    To whither, and the meadows bare.
    Now dimmed already comes the tardier dawn,
    Paler the sunlight fingers creep across the lawn.
    The days are passing. Gone like moths the nights
    When white wings fluttering danced like satellites
    Round tapers in the windless air.
    Lammas is gone. The Harvest moon has waned.
    Summer is dieing that so briefly reigned.
    Now the proud elms at last begin to quail,
    Their leaves uncounted tremble and grow pale,
    Seeing afar the icy spears
    Of winter march to battle with the sun.
    When bright All-Hallows fades, their day is done,
    And born on wings of amber wan they fly
    In heedless winds beneath the sullen sky,
    And fall like dying birds upon the meres.

    ——————————————————-

    Now are your trees, old grey Kortirion,
    Through pallid mists seen rising tall and wan,
    Like vessels vague that slowly drift afar
    Out, out to empty seas beyond the bar
    Of cloudy ports forlorn;
    Leaving behind forever havens loud,
    Wherein their crews a while help feasting proud
    In lordly ease, they now like windy ghosts
    Are wafted by cold airs to friendless coasts,
    And silent down the tide are borne.
    Bare has your realm become, Kortirion,
    Stripped of its raiment, and its splendour gone.
    Like lighted tapers in a darkened fane
    The funeral candles of the Silver Wain
    Now flare above the fallen year.
    Winter is come. Beneath the barren sky
    The Elves are silent. But they do not die!
    Here waiting they endure the winter fell
    And Silence. Here too I will dwell;
    Kortirion, I will meet the winter here.

    Sorry I didn’t type the whole poem: it is rather long (137 lines) and the first time I tried the computer lost it halfway through. If you want to read the rest though, find a copy of “The Book of Lost Tales Pt. 1” (which is also the first book of the History of Middle Earth).

  1. Pingback: Guilty pleasures of a [procrastinating] blogger | Let Them Grumble

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