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Royal Festival Hall (Level 5), Southbank Centre, LondonOpen Tuesday – Sunday from 12 noon – 8pm
Artwork by Paul Peter Piech. © the Estate of Paul Peter Piech, 1991
As a quiet little seedling
Lay within its darksome bed,
To itself it fell a-talking,
And this is what it said:
"I am not so very robust,
But I'll do the best I can;"
And the seedling from that moment
Its work of life began.
So it pushed a little leaflet
Up into the light of day,
To examine the surroundings
And show the rest the way.
The leaflet liked the prospect,
So it called its brother, Stem;
Then two other leaflets heard it,
And quickly followed them.
To be sure, the haste and hurry
Made the seedling sweat and pant;
But almost before it knew it
It found itself a plant.
The sunshine poured upon it,
And the clouds they gave a shower;
And the little plant kept growing
Till it found itself a flower.
Little folks, be like the seedling,
Always do the best you can;
Every child must share life's labor
Just as well as every man.
And the sun and showers will help you
Through the lonesome, struggling hours,
Till you raise to light and beauty
Virtue's fair, unfading flowers.
Cut down a tree
Early on it was uncomfortable.
Patches of rough skin thickened on my back
and spread quickly like psoriasis.
I took a few heavy steps
as my clothes tattered into chains of ivy
round my legs. I was thirsty, thirsty.
The tips of my fingers forked and forked again,
shivered into leaf.
A hot singing in the soles of my feet,
then the splintering of roots
like new teeth. I welcomed the pain
because it meant they were through.
They knew their own purpose,
snaking into the earth
and dragging up water.
No more sense in movement,
in searching and striving
and all that truthless speech and touch.
Just simple encounters:
birds making casual use of my branches,
sheep coming to me for shelter.
Nothing to get done
but to suck in light,
translate it into green.