Kevin Crossley-Holland

Decorating the Tree

I am your tree. I grew in the north,
Year by year in the seasoned earth.
Sift, white shift, snowflakes, stars:
I was storm-shelter for carolling birds.
Dear creatures, what gifts have you brought?

     The fresh mint of light. The dancing moon.
     The hooves of reindeer, prancing on air.
     The boom of a waterfall.
     Wreaths of mist, twisting, rising.
     We bring you time, come and gone.

I am ancient and always young
And I speak with countless tongues.
Your Tree of Life, your Guardian Tree,
I'll watch over you by night and day.
Dear creatures, what gifts have you brought?

     Oh, so many! A friend for always.
     Laughter. Upside down frowns.
     Skateboarding from roof to roof.
     The best parts of our own best memories.
     We bring you hopes. We bring our dreams.

     But darker than bats' wings – we're afraid
     Of the dark. This dread, this ache
     Before we wake. So far from home.
     That man with a gun. Being alone.
     We bring our fears. We bring sorrows.

I'm your World Tree, scarred long ago,
Oozing, sharp as hoar-frost on a bough.
I creak and groan but I rise above gloom
And wherever you are, I'll be your home.
Dear creatures...

I am a gift. So are you,
and I'll feed you blossom and sweet fruit.
I laugh, I weep, I wait in patience,
I sing for the healing of all nations.
Dear creatures...

     This is all a waking dream
     And I'll remember it for ever,
     Our trembling tree where we are one.
     If I could, I'd give you my name.
     I'll give you my heart. I'll give you love.

A new poem grown from the ideas, images and lines of London primary schoolchildren. Commissioned by the Poetry Society.

Trafalgar Square Christmas tree main page

 The 2013 Christmas tree.