I am introducing a new section, simply titled, Saturday Poetry. Each Saturday I will publish a poem and I will also try to link a mobile photography image, that has been uploaded to our Instagram hashtag #theappwhisperer during the week.
As it is Halloween weekend my thoughts turned to the Yew Tree (Taxus baccata), also known as ‘the tree of the dead’. It is commonly found in churchyards throughout the United Kingdom, France and Spain. Some, it has been said have stood for between 1,300 and 3,000 years. At least 250 yews today are as old or older than the churchyards in which they stand.
It is “beneath the yew-tree’s shade” that “heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,” as Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” puts it. Taxus baccata almost invariably casts its shadow where the dead are, on the south and west sides of the church. Like the bodies it watches over, it is rarely found on the north side, and then only in exceptional circumstances.
I thought it would be appropriate to republish Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Moon and The Yew Tree’ poem today. In many ways this poem, pointedly the verse describing the yew tree, leaves us with an ominous feeling, almost a form of foreboding. She almost describes it or perhaps it’s deliberate as a phallic shape, a symbol of maleness.
Surprisingly for Halloween there’s an absence of churchyard, yew and even moon images uploaded to our Instagram group. In view of this, I have selected @sm2azimi’s image below to match with this poem. Although not featuring yew trees, I feel it captures some of the other elements of this poem.