To the Wayfarer

A good friend gifted me with an old book on tree identification for “…craftsmen, carpenters, dealers, and students…” and the following is a poem from the frontispiece referring to an inscription posted on timber trees in Portugal:

Ye who pass by and would raise your hand

against me, hearken ere you harm me.

I am the heat of your hearth on the

cold winter nights, the friendly shade

screening you from the summer sun, and

my fruits are refreshing draughts

quenching your thirst as you journey on.

I am the beam that holds your house,

the board of your table,

the bed on which you lie, and

the timber that builds your boat.

I am the handle of your hoe, the door

of your homestead, the wood of your cradle,

the shell of your coffin.

I am the bread of kindness and

the flower of beauty. Ye who pass by,

listen to my prayer; harm me not!

From “Know Your Woods” by Constantine, 1959.

It rings particularly true when read aloud by the fireplace on a cold Sunday evening in February.

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