This poem was inspired by poetry sent in from pupils at schools around Westminster, and was displayed around the base of the 2016 Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree. A symbol of Anglo-Norwegian friendship, a tree for Trafalgar Square has been given to the people of London by the City of Oslo since 1947 in gratitude for British support during the Second World War.

The Christmas Tree’s Secret

by Julia Copus

GatherRound-XmasBanner16
Artwork from the Christmas Tree banner in 2016, designed by Peter Austin

Gather round: I’ve a tale to tell.
If you’ve ears to hear, then listen well.

In the frosty lanes of alley cats;
on patches of lawn by the high-rise flats;
and parks where jewel-green parakeets
perch in the trees; in the crowded streets,
not far from where the shoppers go
pushing their feet through the hard-packed snow

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

In Drury Lane and Battersea Park;
in ditches and verges and yards after dark;
at night, in the underbrush, inky black;
in woods that border the railway track;
late, when I lean in the midnight wind,
and the air is hushed and the crowds have thinned

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

Down on the bank where the river churns,
where a sharp-beaked robin listens for worms;
over the chimneypots, east and west,
at the edge of the skies, where the falcons nest
on derelict buildings – soot-dark, shabby –
or high on the cliff face of Westminster Abbey

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

Dusk, and a fox steps into the road,
deftly, dexterous, nimble-toed,
lit by the light that’s spilt from the gap
in the half-open door of the fish and chip shop…

I came from the forest to bring you this song,
this most ancient of secrets you’ve known all along.
And now it’s been heard it is yours to be told,
so speak it loud, to young and old,
till it flickers and spreads, like a blowing on embers
– first one and then another remembers –
and the streets, at the darkening close of the year,
are ablaze with light and Christmas cheer!

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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