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Kate Wakeling's 'and a tree' is Poetry Society's Christmas poem

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Children’s poet Kate Wakeling is the author of this year’s poem ‘and a tree’ commissioned by the Poetry Society to celebrate the arrival and lighting up of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. The tree is a gift from the City of Oslo to the people of London for keeping the Norwegian king safe during the second world war.

In her poem Kate captures current anxieties around the climate and conservation. The multifaceted nature of the tree in the poem encompasses both the unease felt around the climate and the longing for a brighter future — when the “tree is a story”, one “of hope and repair”. In the final line of the poem, the tree teaches “what we must keep”, a reminder of the importance of the natural world in day-to-day lives.

The poem was performed at the lighting up of the Christmas tree by three schoolchildren, Treymaine Lemar Anderson, Caeculus Baker and Milena Madeiros Tabert. They were selected from those children who took part in the programme where poets were sent into local primary schools to inspire children to write poems inspired by the story of the tree. Coral Rumble and Steve Tasane worked in Soho Parish, Hallfield and St Edward’s Catholic primary schools.

You can visit the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree and read ‘and a tree’ in person at a lightbox at the foot of the tree until 6 January.


and a tree

by Kate Wakeling


and a tree is a promise

safe-kept by a seed,

and a tree is a dance

that is swung by the breeze,


and a tree is an engine

spinning only on air

and water and light;

nothing lost, nothing spare,


and a tree is a king

who is topped with a crown,

(and a tree never once

loses touch with the ground)


and a tree is a home

with numberless doors,

and a tree is a world

for an ant to explore,


and a tree is a gift

(for a tree is a lung)

and a tree is a song

that is whispered and sung

by the bees and the birds,

and in rustles and creaks,

yes, a tree is a song

that is sung without words,


and a tree is a lesson

in the meaning of roots,

and how out of the mud

swell the sweetest of fruits,


and a tree is a story

of hope and repair,

or perhaps more a question;

a wish or a prayer,

for a tree (plus a tree)

shows us how we might share,


and when we should grow

and when we should sleep

and what we could lose


and what we must keep.





◄ Jonathan Edwards wins £2,000 Troubadour prize

Billy Casper's Tears: Paul Summers, Smokestack ►

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