A new poem grown from the ideas, images and lines of London primary schoolchildren, this poem was commissioned to welcome the annual gift of a Christmas Tree for Trafalgar Square from Norway, in 2015. It appeared on a banner that was wrapped around the base of the tree.

Find out more about the Look North More Often project elsewhere on our website.

The Secret Song of the Tree

by Ian McMillan

Extract from the 2015 Xmas Banner
Artwork from the Christmas Tree banner in 2015, designed by Kate Austin


Step closer, please, and hear my song.
It won’t take long, it won’t take long.

I hold my secret in the frost
I keep my secret in the cold
I hold it tight; it can’t get lost:
A secret as shiny as gold.

Fly me high through winter air
Take me over freezing seas
Place me in the bright lights’ glare
Stand me in the icy breeze.

Step closer now and hear my tune
Lit by the beaming Christmas moon.

I had to go, I could not stay
Beneath the distant stars so high,
My secret hidden, locked away
As fragile as a sigh.

I’m here to stand as people stare
As babies point and parents smile
And magic fills the gleaming air
Crowds slow down and stand awhile.

Step closer, please, and hear my song.
It won’t take long, it won’t take long.

In a country far away
The light shone on the saw,
I felt unsteady, felt me sway
Crashed down to the floor.

But something happened as I fell
I felt some magic start to shift
Inside me like a secret spell
Like falling snow begins to drift.

Step closer now and hear my tune
Lit by the beaming Christmas moon.

In the corner of your watching eye
Here’s my secret: hard to prove.
My well-lit branches wave goodbye:
When nobody’s looking, I move.

I stroll around Trafalgar Square
Then quickly I am back in place.
But surely I was over there?
I see it in your face!

I am the mobile Christmas tree
My secret’s safe with you.
Step over here and you will see
I’m walking. Yes, it’s true!

Step closer, please, and hear my song.
It won’t take long, it won’t take long.

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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