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​Edred, the Oak; or, the Hallowe'en Tree

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Our good friend, Pat Olson has shared with us another whimsical poem for Samhain.  We hope you enjoy this as we do!


'Twas the hallowed eve of Samhain,

At Farmer Jon's was to be a feast,

Pumpkin soup and stew and cider,

Welcome to every man and beast.

They had all been preparing daylong,

Dame Peggy and Sukie at the fore,

Carving punkies and baking bread,

Warming tankards of cider and so much more.

And now had come the nightfall,

The bonfire was crackling high,

Sending up sparks and wisps of smoke,

Into the moonlit Samhain sky.

Shepherd Oak was a-sitting at the trestle table,

Fine tuning the strings of his lute,

While alongside him sat Shepherd Pete,

A-toying with his new flute.

The girls were all busy with the punkies,

Placing in them candles to light each face,

That would be placed in barn and sheds and trees,

The whole evening for to grace.

Soon they were all glittering and leering,

Hughie and Will had placed some high in the trees,

And along the floorboards of the barn,

Stooping on hands and knees.

The folk all gathered round the huge trestle table,

A-holding hands and lowering their heads,

Praying and muttering prayers to the Sky,

In honour of those passed and dead.

'Twas not till the festivities were riding high,

That, if you listened keen you'd hear a moan,

Coming from the end of the field near the byre,

A sound in the night all on its own.

And it was Betty first who heard it,

With her sharp and keen witch's ear,

"Folks I think that someone is in distress,

Yon way, over by the byre."

She flew to the scene in an instant,

Riding high on Hedda, her broom,

And the sight that met her sparkling eyes,

Was enough to give her ache in her womb.

For there stood Edred, the oak tree,

Tears a-trickling down his aged trunk,

All alone and stark and bare of leaves,

He'd gotten himself into a terrible funk.

"Oh, if only I weren't so lonely,

Oh, if only my branches weren't so sparse and thin,

Oh, if only I weren't all white and frosty,

All about my dome and chin."

"I'd be at the life of the party,

As I was in days of yore,

When folk all a-sat under my boughs,

And clisped and colled by the score."

Betty she uttered not a word,

Just held her wand on high,

Till sparks flew from her fingertips,

And touched the midnight sky.

And lit up Edred with so many punkies,

All a-glitt'ring in his branches bare,

Sure that would give all the folk at the farm,

Quite the fright and Samhain scare.

For not only was he all lit up,

Like a Christmas Tree in the night,

But Betty's wand had given him,

The power and wonder of flight.

And so he flew over to where

Farmer Jon's folk all sat at table,

And there he danced a jig in the sky,

As though he were young and able.

Punkies all a-twinkling in his boughs,

Laughter on his olden face, what a sight,

O, never had the folk seen such magick,

As Betty's on this Samhain night.

Farmer Jon and his folk all murmured a prayer,

For such enchantment they never did see,

As what danced about their table this wondrous night,

Nothing other than a flying Hallowe'en tree.



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