Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "A Forest at War"

This poem is from the January 24, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] kyleri and [personal profile] nsfwords.  It has been sponsored by [personal profile] kyleri.

"A Forest at War"

The humans who first walked upright
on the plains of Africa have
always feared the trees.

On the hilltops of ancient Greece,
Demeter decreed Her holy groves to be
sacrosanct against the hand of man, and
whosoever cut down her sacred trees,
she would blight his fields and
blast his belly with hunger.

This has come down to us in
the Gaia Hypothesis, which states
that the Earth is a living organism
capable of self-regulation ... of which
one example is that cutting the trees
from Mediterranean hilltops causes
the fine soil to wash off the slopes,
rendering the fields barren.

The goddess and her terrible,
vengeful trees are remembered still.

From Cad Goddeu to
the march of Great Birnam Wood
on high Dunsinane Hill, what
humans have feared most

is a forest at war.

* * *


Demeter is a goddess of agriculture but also famine. She placed her sacred groves on hilltops and was notorious for blighting anyone who dared to damage them.

The Gaia Hypothesis posits the planet as a living organism with the ability to make changes in its own interests. It has been noted that if you cut the trees off the top of the hills in Greece, the light Mediterranean soil swiftly washes away, leaving your fields barren. In this regard the goddess Demeter may be viewed as a personification of the positive and negative forces of the biosphere.

Cad Goddeu is the Battle of the Trees from welsh legend.

Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him.
-- Macbeth

Angry, mobile trees also appear as a horror trope.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, environment, fantasy, fishbowl, gardening, history, magic, nature, pagan, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, weblit, writing

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