Reply To: Saille the Willow 15th April to 13th May

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Saille the Willow 15th April to 13th May Reply To: Saille the Willow 15th April to 13th May

david poole

    The subject of the willow tree has inspired writers and poets for many long years, as has much of our pagan heritage. As part of my research into this tree, I managed to cull some poetry from various sources and assembled it into one place.


    The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,

    Sing all a green willow.

    Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,

    Sing willow, willow, willow.

    ~William Shakespeare, Othello


    This old folk song, illustrated c1880 by Walter Cranehas the chorus:’Sing all the green willow, willow, willow, willow,Ah me, the green willow my garland shall be.’


    The alders in the front line

    Began the affray

    Willow and rowan tree

    Were tardy in array

    From Robert Graves’s version of Cad Goddeu, the battle of the trees

    “I am a willow of the wilderness,Loving the wind that bent me.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


    This old folk song, illustrated c1880 by Walter Crane

    has the chorus:

    ‘Sing all the green willow, willow, willow, willow,

    Ah me, the green willow my garland shall be.’


    The Willow

    Of all the trees in England
    From sea to sea again
    The Willow loveliest stoops her bows
    Beneath the driving rain

    Walter de LaMare


    When furry buds are all about
    Upon the pussy willows
    The fairy folk soon find it out
    And use it for their pillows
    Then busy are the brown men
    Those downy buds they take
    And turn them inside out, and then
    Such cosy caps they make
    Those fluffy little buds of fur
    An Elf’s wife simply loves
    And so he takes them home to her
    To make her winter gloves

    Rhyme by H.G.C. Marsh Lambert from ‘Bo Peep’s Big Nursery Story Book’


    There once was a Willow, and he was very old,

    And all his leaves fell off from him, and left him in the cold;

    But ere the rude winter could buffet him with snow,

    There grew upon his hoary head a crop of mistletoe.


    To determine if you will be married in the new year:

    “Throw your shoe high up

    into the branches of a Willow tree;

    If the branches catch and hold the shoe,

    you soon will married be.”


    But water and willow are also sacred to the poet, to Orpheus who was allowed to enter the land of the dead to fetch back his beloved Euridice and who received his poetic gift by touching a willow tree. ‘Burn not the willow, a tree sacred to the poets.’


    Listen to Steeleye Span singing the old folk song ‘All Around my hat I will wear the Green Willow’.

    All around my hat I will wear the green willow

    All around my hat for a twelve-month and a day

    And if anyone should ask me the reason why I’m wearing it

    It’s all for my true love who’s far far away


    Fair Flora! Now attend thy sportful feast,

    Of which some days I with design have past;

    A part in April and a part in May

    Thou claim’st, and both command my tuneful lay;

    And as the confines of two months are thine

    To sing of both the double task be mine.

    Latin poet Ovid, Fasti, v, 185, for Flora (Floralia) Apr 28 – May 3


    Willows whiten, aspens quiver,

    Little breezes dusk and shiver.

    ~Alfred, Lord Tennyson


    The Leaf on the Waterby Ouan Tsi (1007-1072)

    The wind tears a leaf from the willow tree;it falls lightly upon the water,and the waves carry it away.Time has gradually effaced a memory from my heart,and I watch the willow leaf drifting away on the waves.Since I have forgotten her whom I loved,I dream the day through in sadness,lying at the water’s edge. But the willow leaf floated back under the tree,and it seemed to me that the memory could never be effaced from my heart.