Poet’s tribute to ‘Fourth King’ Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square
The Poetry Society has unveiled a new poem, ‘The Fourth King’ by Sinéad Morrissey, in welcoming the Norwegian Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square. Every year, the Poetry Society commissions a poet to write a new poem as part of the official celebrations welcoming the Christmas tree to London’s Trafalgar Square.
The poem received its premiere at the lighting up ceremony on Thursday 2 December, when it was performed by three London schoolchildren. The poem also adorns the base of the tree throughout the festive season.
Sinéad Morrissey is winner of the 2020 European Poet of Freedom award, and author of six acclaimed poetry collections. Her poem speaks from the perspective of the Christmas tree, and celebrates the tree – known as the Queen of the Forest for its height – as well as the role of trees as the lungs of the planet, paying tribute to its “pine-needle finery”.
She said of the poem: “I was immediately inspired by the idea of this tree, this special tree that has been so carefully chosen from I imagined the High Arctic, the tiger trees that surround the top of the planet like a protective belt, and I know this one is very, very tall so I imagine this one sticking up above all the other fir trees in that Arctic belt. The specialness of this example of a tree kind of really spoke to me and the fact that it’s elected to go on this journey and that it is a gift from one nation to another nation. All of those things lit up my mind and I felt very inspired to focus on the tree itself as a special instance of Christmas spirit.
“First of all, it’s amazing because it’s so tall. It comes from the high forest that rings the Earth up around the Arctic Circle, and I’ve imagined this tree standing taller than all the other trees – poking its head above the forest canopy. It’s also amazing because of what it does. Trees take in carbon dioxide but breathe out oxygen – they act as the planet’s lungs. In this age of climate change, trees couldn’t be more important. Just as the Christmas story is about a baby who offers hope to mankind, trees offer hope to mankind too. So in the poem I imagine the tree breathing and cleaning the air, helping all of us to breathe.”
A tree has been given by the Mayor of Oslo to the people of London every year since 1947. Three children from St Saviour’s Church of England primary school in Westminster performed this year’s special poem – year 6 pupils Isobel Chappell, Leon Ganje Day and Vasilis Vasiliou.