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I Wrote Dame Judi Dench a Tree Sonnet in a Shameless Attempt for a Book Endorsement
This is in keeping with my marketing philosophy of meeting people where they are.
Dame Judi Dench (from here on out referred to as DJD), is one of the world’s most visible and endearing tree lovers. A 2017 BBC documentary about her love affair with trees, My Passion for Trees, is one of the best ways you can spend fifty-eight minutes on a Sunday morning.
I find so much to love about DJD’s passion for trees, namely her association with trees with both the living and the dead, her willingness to learn from experts, and the holy space that ancient trees—such as the Yew in the clip above—have in her day-to-day consciousness.
We’re both actors, and her career is slightly more storied than my own. But there’s a common thread of the dramatic here, especially for the gnarled oaks and grave yews of England, that I assume makes us both fall prey to poetry and dramatic text in the company of trees.
I wrote DJD a Shakespearean sonnet this weekend (rhyme scheme ABABCDCDEFEFGG, iambic pentameter, turn at line 9), in an attempt to gain her endorsement for my book, Must Love Trees: An Unconventional Guide. It relies upon a pretty common patron/poet relationship for its theme— “God help me if I compare such common beauty (trees) to true beauty (DJD).”
It’s just a shot in the dark, but I enjoy the many common languages in which trees encourage us to speak. And, for DJD, myself, and countless others, that language is often that of language itself.
PS, we’re exactly two weeks out from my book launch at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 11 at 7:30. It will include more poetry, comedy, tales of tree daring, and pinecone auctions than you could ever dare to dream. It’s free. Make a reservation here:
“I’ve sulked between the fattened ancient yews…”
I’ve sulked between the fattened ancient yews,
With churchyard spirits clanging ‘neath their roots,
And ambled over burly oaken pews,
Their acorn’d buds in clusters round my boots.
I’ve mark’d the scars upon the Firmament,
Where lofty Redwood heights hath scratch’d it clean,
Whilst rings of thousands—God’s own instrument,
Have whisper’d secrets Methuselean.
To whom should I impart this faméd tale?
When England’s own doth deign to read this line:
No mount’nous trunk nor evergreenéd vale,
Will I allow to mar the Dame Divine!
Judean Olive kept his jealous crown,
Til Judith spoke and cast his kingdom down.
An Out-of-Context Sentence from Must Love Trees: An Unconventional Guide
“Or you could go all Johnny Keats on your trees, lulling your audience into a place of sensuous paradise with your imagery, like in “To Autumn” (1819): “To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, / and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core”; Delicioso.”