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Trafalgar Tree: Julia Copus’ “The Christmas Tree’s Secret” with The Poetry Society


December 2, 2016

The Northbank is a proud sponsor of the Poetry Society's Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree Lighting Up Ceremony with Westminster and the Arts Council. Each year local school children compose their own poems along a set theme. This year's 'Nature in the city' theme was pulled together by the brilliant Julia Copus, to form one poem as an agglomeration of all of the school poems.

The Christmas Tree’s Secret

by Julia Copus

Artwork from the Christmas Tree banner in 2016, designed by Peter Austin

Gather round: I’ve a tale to tell.
If you’ve ears to hear, then listen well.

In the frosty lanes of alley cats;
on patches of lawn by the high-rise flats;
and parks where jewel-green parakeets
perch in the trees; in the crowded streets,
not far from where the shoppers go
pushing their feet through the hard-packed snow

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

In Drury Lane and Battersea Park;
in ditches and verges and yards after dark;
at night, in the underbrush, inky black;
in woods that border the railway track;
late, when I lean in the midnight wind,
and the air is hushed and the crowds have thinned

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

Down on the bank where the river churns,
where a sharp-beaked robin listens for worms;
over the chimneypots, east and west,
at the edge of the skies, where the falcons nest
on derelict buildings – soot-dark, shabby –
or high on the cliff face of Westminster Abbey

a secret world is taking place,
beating beside us, keeping pace.

Dusk, and a fox steps into the road,
deftly, dexterous, nimble-toed,
lit by the light that’s spilt from the gap
in the half-open door of the fish and chip shop…

I came from the forest to bring you this song,
this most ancient of secrets you’ve known all along.
And now it’s been heard it is yours to be told,
so speak it loud, to young and old,
till it flickers and spreads, like a blowing on embers
– first one and then another remembers –
and the streets, at the darkening close of the year,
are ablaze with light and Christmas cheer!


Read more poems and more about the Poetry Society here.