Two Trees

There is a tree set broad and high,
Partake of it, if you would die.
There, on its branches, plain to see
A feast for thee.

“Take and eat”, O hear the Lie
I live still, and yet I die
Good and evil now I see
O cursed me.

But, see –

There is a tree set broad and high,
Partake of it, if you would die.
There, on its branches, plain to see
A feast for thee.

“Take and eat – my flesh I give”
Die I do, and yet, I live
Shattered curse by Thy decree,
O blessed Tree.

– Jen Wilkin

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Tree carving, Kyiv, Ukraine

We are in Kyiv, Ukraine, looking at a rich brown tree carved into the image of a warrior in the Ukrainian/Slavic tradition. In the background is a side street filled with parked cars and building fronts.
Tree carved into traditional art, on a street in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photograph credit to John Howe, 2009.

Trees have a special role in Ukrainian myth and culture, perhaps because Christianity arrived so late in the region. Our guide took us to see several that had been sculpted. When a tree dies on a city street, it is turned into a work of native art before being ultimately replaced by a new sapling. It is a delightful idea.

– John Howe, Newsletter: Catching up in Kyiv (2009)