I had no idea that Agatha Christie wrote poetry. I adore her mysteries and thanks to hubby now have her entire collection (I think - I will actually have to check on that). What I discovered when I picked up a book on Christmas Eve aptly titled Star Over Bethlehem, was that she must have been quite religious. The book was filled with the most beautiful Christmas stories and poetry.
One poem was about a cedar tree that is native to Lebanon but is found in the UK. I saw some magnificent specimens when I visited Highclere Castle in September. In fact, I read on Lady Carnarvon's blog that the trees made her think of the lands where they originated and the plight of people in war-torn Syria and Lebanon. and inspired her to do a heck of a lot of charity work through Oxfam for those people.
Reading this poem brought back memories of a wonderful day at Highclere, and made me think of the cedars, where they came from, trees in general, misplaced people, and the hard work of a true lady. It's the most beautiful and thought provoking poem I've read all year.
To A Cedar Tree
Do you remember Lebanon?
The stillness and the snows?
The cool cold glare
And a blue sky - pitiless -
Or sometimes grey and heavy with unfallen snow?
In the summers that were of polished brown hills
(But always the stillness - the mountain tops)
Here Solomon's men came to hew and fell the cedars
And the trees were taken to stand
Proudly in the temple of God...
But they had been nearer to God,
Had lived with God in the hills,
Had whispered to God in the stillness;
They had been proud then and unafraid.
And you, my Cedar tree, in my garden by the Thames,
Brought in a ship and planted in a strange land
Near to the river
With farm lands all around,
Close to the toil and the labour of men,
Stately you grew, your branches wide,
Gracious you stand
With smooth clipped lawn all around you
And an English herbaceous border
Flaunting its bloom on a summer's day.
You are part of England now:
'Tea will be served on the lawn
Under the Cedar tree'.
But do you remember Lebanon?
Beloved tree - do you remember Lebanon?
Agatha Christie Mallowan
Photos by Deb
(And 'Yes it is' for those Downton Abbey fans who recognise the house)