Poet pens a farewell verse to famous tree

Susan Small at the Poem Tree

Susan Small at the Poem Tree Buy this photo

First published in Didcot Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter, also covering Barton and Wood Farm. Call me on (01865) 425427

THE FALL of a much-loved tree that carried a famous poem carving for 169 years has inspired another literary verse.

Writer Susan Small, 65, had visited The Poem Tree at Castle Hill in Wittenham Clumps, near Didcot, ever since she was a child.

But the beech tree, rotten after it died in the 1990s, crashed down last month after standing for three centuries.

So poet Mrs Small, from Preston Road, Abingdon, set about writing a piece in dedication to the tree she said was special to a lot of people.

She said: “It’s a place where people have gone to and left gifts in the trunk of the tree. It’s quite a scared place for some people.

“It is personally a favourite place of mine..

“An awful lot of people, adults and children, are sad to see the demise.”

Joseph Tubb of Warborough spent two weeks carving the 20-line poem in 1844.

But the tree’s base had become totally rotten and it is believed the recent wet then hot weather led to it finally falling over.

A crane was brought in to move it and make it safer, but the tree disintegrated in the process.

The tree has now been left to remain as a natural habitat.

Harriet Henley of the Earth Trust, which manages the beauty spot, said staff and volunteers were thinking of creating a memorial to the tree in The Poem Tree Cafe at the visitor centre.

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She said Mrs Small’s poem could be put on the wall along with old photos and pieces of bark salvaged from the tree.

She said: “Her poem is a really good representation of how strongly a lot of people felt about the tree.

“It’s really nice and we are thinking about how we can use it now.

“It’s a tangible piece of history. People could come and touch the history.

I think people found that to be a magical and spiritual thing.”

She added: “As a long term part of the landscape it’s almost as significant a landscape feature as the Clumps themselves.

“It’s a real shame it’s gone now but it will be really nice to generate something positive from it.”

The trust is also considering running a contest for a youngster to write a poem for another tree at the site.

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