Litany Posted on August 15, 2008

I visited an old friend in Burgundy: Pierre Poupon, a winegrower and writer who has captured the soul of this ancient and complex part of France in a score of books over the course of fifty years. At 90 he moved from his house in the Meursault vineyards to a flat in the suburbs of Beaune. When he went he wrote the following litany to the plants he was leaving behind in his old garden.

Let us always remember

The thujas with their fine scented leaves

The bushy red-leaved prunus

The syringa covered in white stars

The Japanese quince with blood red flowers

The mauve lilac above the gate

The forsythia, first to flower in the spring

The cherry tree grown huge, majestic, prodigious

The prunus that flowers early and gives us red plums

The three birches with pale trunks and dancing leaves

The cherry with sour fruit so good in pies

The rather scruffy apple tree with a worm in each fruit

The upright hornbeam straight as a cypress

The purple beech turned green by early frost

The cherry starved by the roots of the beech

The tender almond with its immaculate flowers

The old lime tree, our neighbour, that loses its leaves at the end of summer

Remember all these gifts that we pass on to others

They are the ill-assorted collection you will find round any ordinary French house, adding up to a nondescript garden. It is a moving litany, none the less. He knows them, he loves them for all their faults, and he misses them.

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