THERE is a wide selection of verse celebrating forests in tales of mystery and imagination which are mostly in winter.

Here’s an Introduction from the publication ‘Pick me up poetry’: Forests are natural teachers, holding the secrets of time, past and future. If only we would stop and listen; each tree has a story to tell’ .

There are works of mystery and imagination, introduced by Jimmy Kennedy and John Branton as they warn of warn of a potentially dangerous teddy bears’ picnic - If you go down to the woods today you’d better go in disguise.

In ‘The Forest River’, Harriet Annie Wilkins writes: 

‘Amid the forest verdant shade, 

A peaceful river flowed: 

Wild flowers their home on its banks had made, 

The sunbeam’s rays on its breast were laid,

When the light of morning glowed.’

The Dymock poets flourished briefly just before the First World War. Perhaps the most important of them, Edward Thomas from Kent and Robert Frost from the USA, formed a great friendship during that period. Thomas was killed in the War, but Frost survived to be present at President John Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. 

Their works included;

‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

And ‘Aspens’ by Edward Thomas:

The whisper of the aspens is not drowned, And over lightless pane and footless road,

Empty as sky, with every other sound 

Not ceasing, calls their ghosts from their abode,

A silent smithy, a silent inn, nor fails 

In the bare moonlight or the thick-furred gloom,

In tempest or the night of nightingales, 

To turn the cross-roads to a ghostly room

Philip Larkin writes in ‘The Trees’ that:

Their yearly trick of looking new 

Is written down in rings of grain. 

Yet still the unresting castles thresh In full grown thickness every May. 

Last year is dead, they seem to say, 

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

In Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Road through the Woods’ he reports:

They shut the road through the woods

Seventy years ago. 

Weather and rain have undone it again,

And now you would never know 

There was once a road through the woods

Before they planted the trees.

Emily Brontë writes:

The night is darkening round me,

The wild winds coldly blow;

But a tyrant spell has bound me

And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending

Their bare boughs weighed with snow.

And the storm is fast descending,

And yet I cannot go.

And, from perhaps the Forest Poet Laureate, in the Will Harvey poem ‘Incidental’, from his ‘In Pillowell Woods’ anthology:

A face looked out of a tree

A smooth face, yet wrinkled

Eyes twinkled

Like frosty leaves at me

As I walked on my way through a wood called Harp Wood

But there’s no need to be afraid, because ‘at six o’clock our mummies and daddies will take us home to bed because we’re tired little teddy bears’.