The Vision of the Grove
Frederick of Holland, September xxxvi
Now hearken all who come to hear this rede
Of what befell while I in nighttime deep
Made study of a verse my soul might heed.
For while I gazed on it I fell asleep
And had a vision which my mind did keep
Yet even now I will relate it true
And pray that it may thus enlighten you.
In vision I beheld a darksome plain
Rock-filled and sere; there grew no living thing
The wind did howl as if a beast in pain
Bleak sky withouten stars the world did ring
Nor beast did move, nor yet a bird did sing.
Then at my feet a beam of sunlight fell
On miracle of which I now will tell.
A crack I see in that dry firmament
Therein a tiny sprig of green appears
Which swiftly grows to my astonishment
Until beside me a young sapling rears
As I behold, my eyes are filled with tears.
And I will tell to you and everyone
Sight of that tree was blessed benison.
My vision was not done, I will relate
How from that sapling two small twigs that fell
Upon bare earth then stood and became great
Trees beside the first which grew as well.
Three mighty trees upon that dry plain dwell
And each is crowned in light that is so bold
The first in silver, others both in gold.
Then flowers sprang forth on them in my sight
Fair there to see and full of sweet perfume
Thorns, sharp as any sword borne by a Knight,
Appeared to guard the sweetest of the bloom.
Fruits ripened there then fell to earth in doom,
But from them sprang more saplings fine and fair
And movement of the leaves bestirred the air.
Sixteen great trees around the first behold
All standing tall in midst of that bleak plain.
Between them runs a stream both clear and cold
To quench my thirst and ease my heart's deep pain.
And I called out in voice both soft and plain,
"Where is the gardener who digs and delves?"
The answer came, "The trees garden themselves."
And so I woke to find my candle dim
The fire grown cold upon the hearthstone white,
Took up my pen to write this verse so slim
Of trees that grow and bloom in that dark night.
And though I am a wretched, hapless wight
Yet this true vision I will share with you
And hope that you will read it as I do.
The model for this poem is the verse form used by the author of the Tale of Saint Radegund (copies supplied). It is apparently in iambic pentameter (although the author of that tale stumbles from time to time) in seven lines with an end-rhyme pattern of ababbcc. The voice used by the author breaks lines arbitrarily from time to time to fit the form, as is evident in the present work as well. The current work apparently uses primarily modern English for the ease of understanding of the listener, although there is little incidence of intrusively modern language.
The subject of the current poem is a vision, introduced by the speaker, then related, then closed with an address to the hearer. The subject is obscure and undoubtedly subject to multiple interpretations. The numbers three and sixteen are apparently of great significance to the author.
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