Vimy Oaks

By George Elliott Clarke, Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate


(To the tune of “Binsey Poplars”)

Green is the metaphysics of poets,
Whose unfurled leaves shadow the gilt-edged Grief
Of the speaking earthsunflowers’ sonnets,
Unsettled petals, the sigh of a leaf
Opposing the tatterdemalion guffaws
Of cannon, the grim, hissing fog that’s gas,
Shovels slithering under brazen caws,
Trenchant in French turf all mud or charred grass.

Inked elegies for the expectant Dead
Echo a horse’s dissipating cries,
Whose bright, sinister bleeding leaves it bled–
Like skulls planted in Great War histories,
The graveyard Horticulture that invokes
That brave, perennial stand of Vimy oaks.

(That Vimy hosts acorns Canadian
Ghosts Birnam wood, posting to Dunsinane.)