International Day of Forests falls on Thursday 21 March 2019. Its theme this year is Forests and Education.
The American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) would have approved. Here is his “The Sound of the Trees” first published in the collection Mountain Interval (1920).
“I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.”
The drawing is by the Renaissance master Fra Bartolommeo della Porta (1472-1517). Born a mule driver’s son, he was inspired by the Dominican Friar Girolamo Savonarola, who proposed that art should illustrate the bible as a means of teaching the illiterate. Bartolommeo was influenced by Piero di Cosimo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Leonardo da Vinci, and later by his friend and colleague Raphael.
Bartolommeo was known for painting small draped figures, a tendency many considered an artistic weakness compared to the more heroically proportioned forms of his Renaissance contemporaries. He responded by creating a massive rendering of St. Mark, often regarded as his masterpiece, now hanging in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence. In later life, he did a number of drawings from nature, among which “A Tree in Winter”.