Monday, 23 May 2016

A poem which has been fastened to trees in Portuguese forests

Tree blooming on waste brownspace adjacent to a small Richmond Hill park,
photographed  around sunset 2016-05-23 by Toomas Karmo.
Revision history: 

  • UTC=20160523T0359Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo added a tree photo, taken a few hours earlier with his own cellular phone. 
  • UTC=20160523T0346Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo did first upload (having checked the accuracy of his transcription) , while leaving open the possibility of tiny undocumented subsequent tweaks as versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2., ... . 

According to the p. 251 of that delightful 1951 volume which is the 30th Anniversary Reader's Digest Reader, the following poem has been seen fastened to trees in Portuguese forests. Reader's Digest cites as its source something called "Roadside Bulletin", without giving further details. I typeset the poem here in my own ragged-margin typography, while marking the RD linebreaks through interpositions of blank lines. 

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 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,
the timber that builds your boat. 

I am the handle of your hoe, 
the door of your homestead, 
the wood of your cradle,
and 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.  

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