Thursday, November 12, 2015

Was it the Wind? Or 'Consent'?

We had some fierce winds last night. They are still blowing strongly this morning. The first thing I noticed as I got out of the car at the Y was all the bright yellow Ginkgo Biloba leaves on the pavement. I picked up the one on the right. It reminded me of the pressed Ginkgo leaf I've had for many years, sent to me in a note from a friend.

I remembered that she loved the Ginkgo leaves and trees, but could not remember the symbolism relating to them. Which is why as soon as I got home I looked it up. A University of Vermont exhibit says the ginkgo has been used as a symbol of peace, hope and vitality and also as a symbol of love and duality. (You can find the article here.)

That article also mentions a couple of poems about the Ginkgo leaf. I read them both and liked the one written by Eve Merriam in 1930: Simile: Willow and Ginkgo which you can read here:

I also like willows and, when I think of ginkgoes, first I think of their lovely leaves and then I remember their horrible smell. (Unlike the smell of willows which I love.) But those final lines:
"The ginkgo forces its way through gray concrete;
like a city child, it grows up in the street.
Thrust against the metal sky,
Somehow it survives and even thrives.
My eyes feast upon the willow,
but my heart goes to the ginkgo."
As they say, "pure poetry". The images invoked for me are ones I saw on our recent visit to New York City and its environs.

At the very bottom of the Merriam poem is a link to three others about the Ginkgo Biloba. This one is my favorite:

 The Consent by Howard Nemerov:

"Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.

What signal from the stars? What sense took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time,
If a star at any time may tell us: Now."

The myriad ginkgo leaves at the Y this morning were not among those whirling, swirling, dancing around the entrance doors a few days ago.

Was it the wind that brought them? Or Consent? 

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