Friday, December 10, 2010

Arbocide at Glastonbury

So, tonight I saw the news that the Thorn Tree at Glastonbury got chopped down two nights ago. Speculations as to motive range from anti-Xian (implausible legends connect it to Joseph of Arimathea) to anti-monarch (the locals send the Queen a sprig about this time every year), but it seems far more likely to me that it's simply someone who enjoys killing trees--which after all are large, alive, irreplaceable, and can't fight back (cf. Tolkien's comments on this in the preface to TREE & LEAF and also in THE NEW SHADOW).

They're hoping this one grows back from the stump; if not, I suspect they'll plant a new one, since the current tree is the latest in a long line stretching back for centuries, where a descendent of the former tree is planted in or near its place when the old tree dies, rather like the White Tree of Gondor. Which is good, but it won't be the same.

I'm hoping to get to England sometime in the coming year and seeing a lot of the old prehistorical/archeological sites, Mere and Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels among them -- but I'm sad to know that here's one sight no one will be seeing again, at least not for a v. long time.


current book: LOOKING FOR THE KING by David Downing.


Jason Fisher said...

At first glance, I thought "anti-Xian" was something to do with China! I have not seen this abbreviation for "Christian" before. "Xmas" is common enough, but this one is new to me. Is it widely used? By any particular group?

And of course, the loss of the tree is a great tragedy, whatever the motive.

John D. Rateliff said...

Hi Jason
Yes, I can see there's a certain similarity to the name of the Chinese city -- home I believe of the tomb of the First Emperor, whose reign helped inspire one of my favorite books, THE BRIDGE OF BIRDS.
But as you guessed, it's merely my extrapolation of Xmas/Xian, using as justification the antiquity of the Chi-Ro. It also has the Mooreeffoc effect of drawing attention to the familiar word (though my brief experiment with Xt for Christ I quickly abandoned as insufficiently respectful). This is simply one of a number of abbreviations I've either adopted or developed over the years -- actually, the first few I picked up from Warnie Lewis when I first read his edition of his brother's letters in the summer of 1978.
In any case, I don't use them in my formal writing, of course, but I do in my correspondence and in his blog. Hope they're not too jarring -- it's my goal never to slip off into Ezra Pound-ish eccentricity.


Jason Fisher said...

The abbreviation didn't bother me at all. It was just novel, so I inquired. I know some people don't like "Xmas", but these are people who don't realize the antiquity of the chi-rho, as you put it. I think CSL himself used "Xmas", didn't he?