The Green Man
Fleet in the forest,
leafshaken, wild in the wood,
flowers tousled in his hair,
garlanded with laurel and with ivy,
the Green Grotesque swoops out of stone and timber.
Locked in a church boss
his eyes start with alarm
at his enclosure. Brown priests agreed
to give his effigy a place.
That would bring the gaffers in,
the maids with May bandeaus,
the mothers full of fears and needing cures.
They could turn an eye
towards the old religion
while they received the new.
Christ nailed to a tree would keep their reverence
front facing; they could fringe
the altar of the new covenant with evergreen
with rosemary to sprig the nosegays left
under the wood-man's stare.
Needs are many and the winter cold,
best to placate all gods.
The Mediterranean Lord of Life
could promise them a warmer afterlife,
the Forest Sprite green leaves,
a yellow corn and a berried harvest.