Rita Dove





The Copper Beech

Aristocrat among patriarchs, this
noble mutation is the best 
specimen of Rococo

in the park of the castle
at Erpenberg.
The widely-travelled Baroness

returned
from a South American expedition
with any number of plants and a few

horticultural innovations.
This trailing beech became Erpenberg’s
tree of grief, their

melancholy individualist,
the park philosopher.
Eight meters above lawn

the tousled crown
rises, her many plaited branches falling
like green water.

earthwards, a cascade of leaves.
The aesthetic principles
of the period: branches

pruned late to heal
into knots, proud flesh ascending
the trunk:

living architecture.