I’ve heard your name scoffed
with a sideways discard of the lips
for being not native
not welcome here
as if your right to be upstanding
is somehow less because once this island did not know you.
But yours is a history of centuries seen
your type gives homes to birds and roofs
for shepherds’ chatter as shears speak sharp
bobbins from your wood have turned a revolution.
Here beneath the helm you stand on stone, alone
song of the organ player above translated
into scatter of scree peregrine shriek
an overture of wind.
Your changing looks have long gone unnoticed
save by the farmer who checks his sheep each day
now you have seeped into our sights, our minds
and your place under helm is a place of pride.


The Sycamore tree doesn’t get much praise. A general disaffection with it, along with my own growing affection, inspired me to write this poem.

The Organ Player in the poem is the rock formation on the summit of Helm Crag – viewed from the east, it looks exactly like a person sitting in front of a looming organ. The more common name of the rocky summit is the Lion and the Lamb – if you view it from Dove Cottage in Grasmere, you’ll be able to see this clearly.

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