What are we at: Picture The fifth?

When I am old and grey , I and my best friend shall have a project to gather every green man in every church and house and on every gravestone and moss-covered village wall in the world.

That will guarantee us immortality, for green men are prolific and often hidden. It shall be like the unsolvable puzzle, to find all the instances in which some carpenter or stonemason invoked this gnarled spirit of nature. Farther from Gaia you could not stride than he, wallowing in bacchanalian foliage, a plant sprouting rakishly from his leer.

He is an irascible symbol of Spring: rebirth and a new cycle, though a less newborn creature I cannot imagine. In him, reverence for the new is dislodged: this is an experienced, knowing life renewed, this Spring the sum total of our knowledge and experience to date. Here is what mankind has become, overtaken by the irrepressible joy of nature. Here is Pan, bawdy and grinning and rutting to meet us.

To those of us with life experience, he has a special call. Celebrate the layers of time and happening which brought you to this point in your life: for with spring you are renewed. What steps the renewed you will take: this is not written yet.


13 thoughts on “Greenery

  1. I have a bird feeder you’d love — tube style surrounded by a coppery metal filigree that hides a green man. But I plan to use it for at least a few more years.

  2. A particularly fine prose poem, Kate — a praise poem even, a hymn to the tutelary spirit of the season which is slowly making its presence felt our northern regions.

    And oh! to come across a catalogue of foliate heads that would range through time and space, from the painted grotesques that patterned Nero’s Domus Aureus to the leafy visages of India. I’ve a handful of illustrated books on the Green Man but they only hint at the wealth of imagery out there waiting to be recognised anew.

    (Oops, seemed to have slipped into some time warp with these flowery phrases, sorry!)

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