Thursday, September 6, 2012

Naked Strength

Oak at Mount Vernon byLAM

With nothing to read the other day, I eyed an collection of Tennyson's poems across the room.  Forgetting his genius, I opened the book to see if I recognized any of the titles. Turns out Tennyson wrote the Charge of Light Brigade and the Lady of Shallot. As I picked over my pasta lunch, curiosity led me through poems filled with adventure, observation, heart, and light. Near the end of the book, I found this gem, The Oak. No doubt he is reflecting on the noble benefit of quiet growth and modest majesty, that Oak trees generally display. But, what's magical about his writing is the momentum he uses to keep us reading.  He tells us right away, to be like the Oak. But he compels us to keep reading to discover why. As I read, I wondered if Tennyson saw the Oak as a pillar of strength or a lonely giant. Down to the very last sentence, I felt a sense of foreboding over the bare oak, "leaves fallen at length...trunk and bough" --Until the last phrase,--the save-- when I read the words, "Naked Strength."  He is not telling us that the Oak is sad and bare, he is reminding us that when all the leaves fall, the Oak is finally able to show us what its' got.

Like the Oak, we weather the seasons of life. We gain and we grow. We are golden for a time, we are winning... then with in a wind's gust, we lose.  Whether by nature or by circumstance, there are moments when we stand bare....But when we do--we reveal our strength.  We let go of our leaves when we don't need them anymore, when we don't need them anymore and finally, we reveal ourselves.

The Oak

Live thy Life,
     Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

    Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
     Fallen at length,
Look, he stands,
      Trunk and bough...
Naked strength.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson


  1. Laurie,

    Thanks for hooking me up with your blog. It's fantastic. You have a personality, a story, a point of view, you write well, and you're a good photographer. And I love those dandelions!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Chris! It means a lot to me that you're reading :) Glad I found yours too!