The Lemon Trees by the Spring


Down by the spring the lemon trees

Had grown and died and grown again

Since well before the town was built,

And no-one knew their real age.


Each year the sparrows filled the trees

With squabbling hoards of hungry mouths.

They fed and roosted, fought and bred,

And no-one thought how long they had.


Between the trees the old man worked.

He watered courgettes, melons, beans.

He flicked the flowers clean of flies,

Just like the old men had before.


The lemon trees stood by the spring,

And no-one heard the flowers fall.

17 Comments to “The Lemon Trees by the Spring”

  1. Quite Lovely! x

  2. Life goes on–or not–free of our perspective. I quite enjoyed the meter here (much like last week’s offering). Great read, kudos.

  3. This is quite a good read. I liked the image of the Cherry trees growing, dying and growing again. Very nice.

  4. Very beautiful, I loved the way my eyes just soared while reading it, thank you.

  5. This is beautiful. Filled with emotion and showing how things repeat each season and also….no one thinks how much time they have, do they? In one season or in one lifetime? I loved the last stanza.

  6. So very beautiful…lifedeathlife…all one. I hope you will join me and others around the world in creating a gratitude quilt of words. To learn more about this project and how you can participate read the white box at the top of my blog. It would be wonderful to have you be a part of this.

  7. Such a beautiful poem, could almost feel the sunshine and hear the breeze blow through the lemon tree–great details of flicking off the insects, and then that last stanza, wonderful. 🙂

  8. This is a beautiful picture of a pastoral way of life, which has sadly become out-dated. I notice you wrote in the past tense which makes me think the lemon trees are no more than a memory.

    • The lemon grove is still there, but for how long is anyone’s guess. It is in Epirus, in northern Greece. There is a culture – one which is localist, communitarian, small scale – which is seriously threatened, along with the ecosystems it helps sustain. The motorways built with German, Dutch, French and British money may help to move vast quantities of consumer goods from those countries to the Balkans, but what they are destroying in doing so is a crying shame.

  9. Your last stanza reminds me of a movie, The Last Samurai, when a character is able to finish a poem at his death when he realized all the cherry blossoms falling out of the tree were perfect.

  10. Really good poem. I particularly liked the line, “He flicked the flowers clean of flies”. Nice one.

  11. First of all Greece wow I would love to go! My husband went as a child but I have never had the pleasure. What an exquisite, breath-stealing poem. I am fascinated by the cycles of life an the after life as well, the elegance in your work Wow you are professional quality (of the time period when they meant something)!

  12. The cycle never grows old.

    • quite right. I remember being struck by the sparrows: how many generations had lived in that grove? Could have been two, three, four thousand years worth… and we tend to just wander blithely by, ignoring them. The human sense of time is a funny thing.

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