Patterns (Tree and Leaf) a poem about Tolkien

This is the first of a series I hope to write meditating on different photos of the Inklings

Tolkien is leaning back into an oak
Old, gnarled, distinct in bole and burr
As, from the burr and bowl of his old pipe,
Packed with tightly patterned shreds of leaf,
The smoke ascends in rings and wreathes of air
To catch the autumn light and meet such leaves
As circle through its wreathes and patter down
In patterns of their own to the rich ground.

He contemplates again the tree of tales;
The roots of language and its rings of growth
‘The tongue and tale and teller all coeval’
And he becomes a pattern making patterns,
A tale telling tales and turning leaves,
From the print of thumb and finger on his pipe
To the print and press and pattern of his books
And all their prints and imprints in our minds
Out to this grainy patterned photograph
Of ‘Tolkien, leaning back into an oak’.


Filed under literature, Poems

2 responses to “Patterns (Tree and Leaf) a poem about Tolkien

  1. I found you Malcolm and your poem made the effort worthwhile; amazing…Grace. I haven’t had the chance to watch Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia, but I did share a 2 hr ride with him from Portland, OR to Eugene for a ‘Weekend in Narnia’ event (along with my dear friend Lewis Scholar Terry Glaspey – ‘Not a Tame Lion’). So I had two hours to pick Michael’s very intelligent mind; it was a great ride and I’ll remember it always. Michael was very interested with a picture in my 2nd Imprint Geoffrey Bles edition of The Horse (my favorite of the Narnian Tales) depicting King Peter wearing a crown with small wings. Jack’s nod to the planet Mercury if I remember correctly.

    Please keep in touch and direct me to your book as I want a signed copy. I’m published in a collection of essays and artwork depicting Narnian landscapes, ‘The Lion and The Land of Narnia’…along with friends Chris Mitchell, Doug Gresham, Terry Glaspey and if I’m not mistaken, Michael Ward’s first published essay about Planet Narnia. EBay has it for…like…a buck/fifty. Check it out if you get the chance.

    I’ll be coming back to Oxford/Cambridge in June 2011; maybe we could meet up? If you send me your mailing address (my email is I’ll send a DVD presentation of the C.S. Lewis Society tour from June 2009. Doug gave us a grand very personal tour of the Kilns (and Donna is such a sweetheart) and as I walked into The Eagle & Child, I felt I belonged. The highpoint was co-speaking with Doug on Addison’s…and after my bit hearing him quietly say, “Well said, Darren.” That’s a keeper.

    I’m writing a documentary ‘Jack’s Journey’ with Lou Markos. There going to shoot on location…so I’m hoping to tag along.

    Darren Jacobs

    Is that a Bles edition of The Lion in your picture?

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks for this nice long comment Darren. I’m not surprised you enjoyed your long ride with Michael hes a great scholar and a gentleman. Did you know that he is co-editing the new Cambridge companion to CS Lewis? That should come out this spring, I have written the final chapter in it which is about Lewis as a poet. I will definitely send off for The Lion and the Land of Narnia. Although I have read and loved Lewis all my life the Cambridge companion piece will be my first published work on Lewis. I’ve been lecturing on Lewis for the foundation for a few years though and also led a week on Lewis and imagination at the Kilns, so as soon as Faith Hope and Poetry is safely out there, the next project is to gather up a series I did for the Lewis foundation called “Growing up with CS Lewis (and staying young with Jack)” and turn it into a book. The trouble is, that, and academia have to be fitted in alongside my other Priestly and pastoral roles and those are always a priority.
      On another subject, you mentioned in your comment “the effort” to find me and the poem. I am very new to this blogging thing, is there anything I could or should be doing to make myself more visible? ie should I set this blog so that all the posts appear on the home page and put the introductory stuff about me on a different page? All advice gratefully received.
      By the way if you scroll down a little further on my blog page there is a ‘found’ sonnet which I made with words and phrases from The Abolition of man at the instigation of Michael ward and also a piece with the results of a friendly vilanelle writing contest between Michael, Davey Talbot (good poet) and myself. enjoy, and thanks for making contact here.
      PS the edition of Lion is an early puffin

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