The Magic Apple Tree

Someday make a journey through the rain

Through sodden streets in darkening December

A journey to the magic apple tree.

And journey also, darkling, through your past

Journey through your seed time and your summer

And through the fall of every fruiting time.

Journey through the pictures packed like loam,

The rooting places of your growing soul,

The subsoil of your oldest memory.

Walk through the outer darkness of the world

Towards a buried memory of light

Whose faded trace no photograph records.

You glimpsed it once within the garden wall,

The image of an ancient apple tree,

The fall of light through branches and the fling

And curve of colour on the golden fruit…

All buried in the rubble of your fall.

Walk through the present darkness till you come

To the stone steps, the lions, the façade,

The white Museum with its plate-glass doors.

Through these you pass and up a flight of stairs,

To find the case and lift the dull brown cover

To see, at first, your image in the glass.

You see yourself, and through yourself the tree,

And through the tree at last, the buried light.

Boughs form an arch, the painting draws you in

Under its framing fringe of rich green leaves,

Beyond the music of the shepherdess,

Down through the dark towards the grey church spire

In to its heart : the arching apple boughs…

The sky is dark, intense, a stormy grey,

But just beneath the darkness all is gold:

The slope of hills, the fields of barleycorn.

The loaded branches of the apple tree,

Glow red and ripe and gold and bow themselves

To bless the fruitful earth from whence they spring.

These colours seem to fall from Eden’s light,

The air they shine through breathes a change in them,

Breaking their sheen into a certain shade

Particular and unrepeatable.

Some golden essence seems to concentrate

From light to air, from pigment into paint

In increments of incarnation down

to burn within these apples and this bough,

Which here and now at last, you recognise.

This is your own, your ancient apple tree

And here the light you buried for so long

Leaps up in you to life and resurrection.


Filed under christianity, imagination, literature, Poems

6 responses to “The Magic Apple Tree

  1. Wow, Malcolm. Just, WOW! and thank you.

  2. Annelise

    I just love this… I need to read it again, it’s just beautiful. The pictures and movement are very clear and rich, so meaningful, personal; you have a knack of exploring the mystical and desire-filled in a way that’s both intricate and solid, unlike so many attempts at the same. Down to earth, yet a changed sort of earth? Such enjoyable poetry.

    By the way, I’ve decided to flee from Facebook- but I’ve gone about collecting friends’ blogs, having done so. Hope you don’t mind my subscribing to your post-feed 🙂

  3. malcolmguite

    Thanks Annelise, I’m glad you found it here and will stay in touch this way. I’m glad you like this poem. the Painting which is at the Fitzwilliam Museum here in Cambridge, is one of my favourite things in the world and I often go and stand before it drinking deeply of all it has to offer.

  4. Annelise

    It is lovely; I’d love to see it real, because that always makes such a difference. And there’s such a purity of enjoyment in simply going back and back to the beauty of something, without all the categories and complications that we always (and sometimes for well, goodness-of-themselves reasons) seem to put the things we appreciate into.

    Really beautiful things can sustain that, simply ‘very good’, and new, every time… And it’s one of the most refreshing things. Nature is so good at this, and it surprises me, a blessing (we have beautiful trees and skies near my house, in the warm evening goldlight); when art makes it there, it’s such a fair thing.

    Do keep writing and posting! Good to stay in touch.

  5. Pingback: The Magic Apple Tree | twiff13

  6. I was so pleased to find this poem, today on Apple Day … and it gives me so much more, so much more that I can comprehend in one reading. Certainly, this is a poem to contemplate, to reflect with …. it resonates with my soul, my earthly connection of a world full of wonder and awe in display of God’s beauty. It is a poem that has me in it’s centre … I always seem to use a tree as an analogy for Christ in my life. Remember our wonderful conversation in the streets of London about how the roots go out from the Source? And, in my Lenten Diary, the Tree reaching out into the Cosmos in an onwards and everlasting attempt to touch Christ. I love your work and the depth it offers me. Thank you x

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