Planting the alder

The sonnet celebrates a tree that flourished in the riverbank landscape of Heaney’s upbringing. Alders abounded along the banks of the Moyola. The poet tacks on an appeal for everyone to plant a tree to help the environment. Heaney takes on the challenge of describing colours and textures in a lyrical version of what might be found in a botanical handbook of trees, citing compelling reasons for planting the alder and raising a glass to each of the qualities in turn. For the alder’s high-class heraldic bark of dulled argent alternating with white striations (pigeon collared). For its leaves as they inter-react with rain drops: acting as a sound-board (splitter-splatter), disposing of the downfall (guttering ), not taking the relationship […]