Sunday, July 18, 2010

Death of a tree – Launceston, Tasmania

It was a young tree standing tall and proud on the ridge overlooking the Tamar Valley, at the time when convict and bushranger Matthew Brady was making his escape along the river in 1825.
Sadly, a few weeks ago, that tree was felled in the march of progress.

It measured 29 feet around its trunk and must have been over 200 feet high – a true gentle giant which harmed no-one.
Yet from my window, I watched it being torn limb from limb and its roots dragged from the ground by a yellow machine which had no soul.

Twenty years ago, when I lived in Western Australia, I wrote a poem to the demise of the majestic Karri trees in the south west forests.

Here are a few verses from that poem.

The Karri Tree
by Margaret Muir

What dignity, the giant Karri Tree,
Tall sentinel to years of privacy.
A thousand summers bleached her naked boughs
And yet she stoops not and stands tall and proud.

But time runs out as seasons come and go.
Man waits his chance to set upon the wood,
Debase, denature, then depart
No tear, no shame, no guilt fills his cold heart.

Hydraulic mammoths lurk between the trees
Their lethal arms, darting like snapping dogs,
Forward and back in foreboding waves
Menacingly amputating limbs.

A whirring blade wielded like a sword
Slices through myriad rings of life.
Discarded limbs tossed to a haphazard pile
Like headless matches from a broken box.

But mortal man can never emulate
The enviable permanence afforded to the trees
And in his death, man’s ashes to the soil return
Awaited fodder for the forest’s germ.

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