Message of the Green Man
I met a man one afternoon, while walking in the wood;
Loam-brown his tunic and his trews, dark-green his cloak and hood.
Antler-tines grew from his brow, his mask was leafy-green,
He was, of all the folk I’ve met, the strangest to be seen.
Said he, “My friend, would you consent to walk a while with me?
For there are things that I would tell, and secrets share with thee.”
I gave him leave, and so we two walked down the forest way,
While I did wait with open ears, to hear what he would say.
But he walked silent for a while, his verdant face cast down,
While I surveyed the wreath of leaves that he wore like a crown.
At length he spoke, but in his voice a note of sadness crept
And though I could not be quite sure, it seemed to me he wept.
He said, “The folk have lost their way! The people of the towns,
The cities, and the lands nearby have cut the forests down.
This wood in which we walk,” said he, “is just a remnant of
The woods that were, in days of yore ~ the Greenwood that I love!”
“And if that were not bad enough,” he went on with a sigh,
“They’ve paved the meadows and the fields, and left them there to die!
Laid asphalt down, and concrete too, in heavy, choking bands,
Till scarce an inch of Mother Earth is free from human hands.”
“The streams are running choked with silt, and chemicals besides,
The fish can scarcely swim upstream, against the toxic tides.
The mountaintops they’ve blown apart, to get at seams of coal,
It’s enough to make you wonder if the humans have no soul!”
“Their cars and trucks pollute the air, it falls as acid rain…
You’d think that some, at least, could feel their earthly Mother’s pain.
But then, I know that you are one who feels the way I do ~
Within your veins, I know right well, the old blood runs, and true.”
And as he spoke, I felt the thrill run through me, head to toe,
That he had spoken truth, I knew ~ my heart had told me so.
My soul still thrilled to Moon and Sun, the turning of the year,
The hidden mysteries of the groves, the joy that’s almost fear.
“You alone can’t stem the tide of thoughtlessness and greed;
You may not see the groves reborn… but you can plant the seed.
And you are not alone, my friend, for far more than you know
Across this land have heard the call: the horn sounds deep and low.”
“And deep within the hearts of men, there burns a flame of green ~
In some, ‘tis flaring brightly! In others, scarcely seen.
But though some try to hide it, these words I say are true:
The wood that’s in the heart of me, calls to the wood in you.”
“There are many ways to answer the horn-call in your heart,
But the job that takes the longest is the one you never start!
So find your path and take your stand and raise your voice on high,
And know the green flame burning deep within you cannot die!”
“You, my friend, have heard the call, long before we met this day,
And I knew you would listen to the words I had to say.
And so to you I give this token, of the bond we share ~”
And he plucked a single acorn from the oak-leaves in his hair.
He laid the acorn in my hand and told me, “Keep it well!
And share what I have shared with you: it’s a story you must tell.
For there are those despairing, in a world grown grey and cold,
They do not know the green flame burns as strongly as of old.”
“Together, we’ll awaken more and more across this land,
And soon the Mother Earth will know a different human hand.
A hand that nurtures, not destroys, a hand that plants and heals,
Strong hands, but gentle, filled with love the heart reveals.”
He stopped, and I stood with him, and looked full in his face:
A sudden sense of majesty had fallen on that place.
No longer looked he strange to me; more like an ancient king,
And as I gazed into his eyes my heart began to sing.
He clasped my hand and nodded, then turned and walked away ~
Into the woods, and vanished, as the sun set on that day.
And as I wandered slowly home, the stars sprang into view,
More ancient than the Earth itself, and yet, forever new.
So join me, friends, and tend the flame that burns within your heart:
Protect the groves, the fields, the streams, for now’s the time to start!
And celebrate the joy that comes to all who love the Earth,
The turning of the seasons, from death unto rebirth!
Tom Harbold (a.k.a. Robin Greenwood)
March 7, 2006
"Ask the Green Man where he comes from, ask the Cup that fills with red;
Ask the old grey Standing Stones that show the Sun his way to bed.
Question all as to their ways, and learn the secrets that they hold:
Walk the lines of Nature's palm, crossed with silver and with gold."
-- Jethro Tull, "Cup of Wonder" 2009 BS2011 IL