Page last updated at 23:16 GMT, Saturday, 21 August 2010 00:16 UK

The English Elms, by Carol Ann Duffy

Listen to Carol Ann Duffy reading the poem

Seven Sisters in Tottenham,

long gone, except for their names,

were English elms.

Others stood at the edge of farms,

twinned with the shapes of clouds

like green rhymes;

or cupped the beads of the rain

in their leaf palms;

or glowered, grim giants, warning of storms.

In the hedgerows in old films,

elegiacally, they loom,

the English elms;

or find posthumous fame

in the lines of poems-

the music making elm-

for ours is a world without them...

to whom the artists came,

time after time, scumbling, paint on their fingers and thumbs;

and the woodcutters, who knew the elm was a coffin's deadly aim;

and the mavis, her new nest unharmed in the crook of a living, wooden arm;

and boys, with ball and stumps and bat for a game;

and nursing ewes and lambs, calm under the English elms...

great, masterpiece trees,

who were overwhelmed.

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