Welcome to quadrille night! It’s always great to be here. Our word tonight is “ash”.
I live in Devon, in the southwest corner of England, where the ash tree is king. So many of our place names have Ash in them – Ashreigney, Ash Thomas, Rose Ash, to name a few. Sadly, our ash trees are dying. Ash dieback has struck, and it’s impossible to imagine how it will look in 5 years’ time, when such an important part of our landscape has gone.
Here’s a terribly English poem from a terribly English poet, about this terribly English tree:
Upper Lambourne – John Betjeman
Up the ash tree climbs the ivy,
Up the ivy climbs the sun,
With a twenty-thousand pattering,
Has a valley breeze begun,
Feathery ash, neglected elder,
Shift the shade and make it run –
Shift the shade toward the nettles,
And the nettles set it free,
To streak the stained Carrara headstone,
Where, in nineteen-twenty-three,
He who trained a hundred winners,
Paid the Final Entrance Fee.
Leathery limbs of Upper Lambourne,
Leathery skin from sun and wind,
Leathery breeches, spreading stables,
Shining saddles left behind –
To the down the string of horses
Moving out of sight and mind.
Feathery ash in leathery Lambourne
Waves above the sarsen stone,
And Edwardian plantations
So coniferously moan
As to make the swelling downland,
Far surrounding, seem their own.
There’s a lot of Norse myth attached to the ash tree. The great world tree of the Vikings – Yggdrasil – was an ash tree, connecting the nine worlds. Odin hung there for nine days and nights to gain wisdom. The first man was formed from ash. In England, if you had a sickly child you could split a young ash tree, pass the baby through it and then bind it together again. The child’s life would then be bound to the life of the tree.
I don’t think the NHS offers that service any more.
They say that ash wood burns well, even when the wood is green. And then what are you left with? Ashes! (Sorry). Just to apologise for that awful link, here’s a bit of David Bowie. https://youtu.be/HyMm4rJemtI
The word ash has such a beautiful sound – a sigh, a whisper. What does it conjure up for you?
You can be ashen-faced, or ash blonde. Or both, I suppose. You can rise from the ashes, like a phoenix. Or maybe you’re a cricket fan:
Taking us back full-circle, here’s some Seamus Heaney.
The Ash Plant – Seamus Heaney
He’ll never rise again but he is ready.
Entered like a mirror by the morning,
He stares out the big window, wondering,
Not caring if the day is bright or cloudy.
An upstairs outlook on the whole country.
First milk-lorries, first smoke, cattle, trees
In damp opulence above damp hedges –
He has it to himself, he is like a sentry
Forgotten and unable to remember
The whys and wherefores of his lofty station,
Wakening relieved yet in position,
Disencumbered as a breaking comber.
As his head goes light with light, his wasting hand
Gropes desperately and finds the phantom limb
Of an ash plant in his grasp, which steadies him.
Now he has found his touch he can stand his ground
Or wield the stick like a silver bough and come
Walking again among us: the quoted judge.
I could have cut a better man out of the hedge!
God might have said the same, remembering Adam.
So tonight let’s write some ash quadrilles – 44 words, including the word ash.
Link back to this prompt in your post, and remember to link up to Mr Linky. And take a tour of the ashy poetry you’ll find there.
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Welcome to the bar! I’ve got a fire blazing away here – come and get warm.
Hi Sarah, Thanks for hosting. I like the Q word, and your poem, specially the Ash Plant is a lovely read.
Thank you, Grace.
Hi Sarah, I would love to toast some marshmallows at the fire! Such a great prompt word, so many places it can lead us…
I have marshmallows, hot chocolate, and some toasting forks! Be my guest.
Sounds perfect! 😊
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I didn’t know about that fungi killing ash tree… They are so important to us. In old times each farm had a special tree that was either ash or oak that protected the form.
Oh, that’s interesting.
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hello Sarah- Thanks for hosting! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I’ve been on a big health kick recently- lots of steps each day, exercising and eating healthier. I love the word ash and I love Ash trees, although I am allergic to Arizona Ash Trees. I will write something in the morning.
Hello Sarah and All. I enjoyed the folklore on the ash tree. I see that tree loving and poets go hand in hand. A tall glass of Magners please, from the fruit of dear apple.
Oh, apples are so generous to poets and to drinkers! A pint of Magners coming up.
I raise my glass in toast. Cheers!
Hot chocolate for me please 😀 the days are becoming cold here and I am loving every minute of it. Will be here today and tomorrow to read and comment.
Happy Monday everyone and thank you for hosting, Sarah! 💝💝
One hot chocolate coming up!
Thank you for hosting, Sarah. An interesting word for our quadrille today. Fall weather has finally come to Boston. Yesterday in the Public Market, the “pumpkin winners” were on display….the biggest pumpkins grown in the region. They must have had to use some kind of a motorized lift to get them in! They were huge!
I’m sipping pumpkin spice decaf coffee at home….it’s really the aroma therapy of it 🙂
great pprompt Sarah,
i’m with Ingrid fire side toasting marshmellows drinking hot chocolate. will read shortly getting lost in the flames
Gillena Cox said:
Interesting image to go with the prompt.
Hello Sarah and all! Great word, Sarah. And thanks for all the ash tree info!
I wrote a bit about trees earlier today, so this is just ashes.
An excellent prompt, with excellent timing – how gladly I would settle beside the fire, stirring the ash in its sorrowful luminescence.
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Jewish Young Professional "JYP" said:
This prompt calls for a smoky scotch and some s’mores.
A really great keyword, and I really wanted to write about the ash tree, but it didn’t go that way. Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll be back tomorrow to read and visit.
Thank you for hosting Sarah. This prompt took me in an unexpected direction, but I enjoyed the write. 🙂
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Rob.
Added a 2nd link to an edit and rewrite of an older piece, modified to fit the prompt.
thanks so much for hosting – it’s been wonderful to read so many interpretations so far 🙂
Thanks for hosting, Sarah, and I’d like hot apple cider, please. It is terribly distressing about the demise of the ash trees. We have an ash borer here that threatens our farm grove. But I enjoyed the terribly English poem 🙂
Ain Starlingsson said:
Wonderful introduction. Set me thinking…
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Wonderful prompt that lead me to a phrase I didn’t know I could use in my life! A lemon drop shot for me please – to toast the ash trees! Is there a way to plant more to make up for those that are being destroyed? I can’t image how this loss will change the landscape. 😢
They are one of those things that you don’t really notice until they are under threat. Suddenly background becomes foreground.
Some great poems tonight! I’m off to bed. See you tomorrow!
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Thanks for all the inspirational content as well as the word. (K)
Though they are not native to Australia they were introduced for domestic scaping, a beautiful tree.
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