Sunday, August 12, 2012
My fancy has always found something very interesting in an orchard. Apple-trees, and all fruit-trees, have a domestic character which brings them into relationship with man. They have lost, in a great measure, the wild nature of the forest-tree, and have grown humanized by receiving the care of man, and by contributing to his wants. They have become a part of the family; and their individual characters are as well understood and appreciated as those of the human members. One tree is harsh and crabbed—another mild—one is churlish and illiberal—another exhausts itself with its free-hearted bounties. Even the shapes of apple-trees have great individuality, into such strange postures do they put themselves, and thrust their contorted branches so grotesquely in all directions. And when they have stood around a house for many years, and held converse with successive dynasties of occupants, and gladdened their hearts so often in the fruitful autumn, then it would seem almost sacrilege to cut them down.Stephen MacKenna, Journal (March 14, 1907), in Journal and Letters of Stephen MacKenna, ed. E.R. Dodds (London: Constable & Co Ltd, 1936) p. 103:
There are trees that are all a-strain upward like a prayer; there are trees that rise only to flow eternally downwards, drooping like death; there are trees that are all a-twist, an agony of contortion, writhing, serpenting now towards earth and now towards sky, inwards and outwards, upwards and downwards, tortured uncertain lives, very dreadful and very beautiful: but in all the trees there is beauty, and the birds of God rest and nest and sing in all.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.