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This poem is taken from PN Review 209, Volume 39 Number 3, January - February 2013.

'In Highgate Woods' and Other Poems Dannie Abse
In Highgate Woods

Entering the shuffling hush of tamed
Highgate Woods I recall the insolence
of a Polish poet's search for his own coffin.
He wandered through a vast owl-dark forest,
percussed the bark of 200 trees (he wrote)
and, at last, heard the desired woodnote.
He must have been an explorer of a sort,
death-magnetised as are all explorers.

Fantasy can haunt and bedlam itself
into fact; but I'm too old to copy
that poet's half-serious libretto act.
I observe the choreograph of leaf-fall
and dare not tap upon one lordly tree.
Old poets stay at home to become explorers;
the older they get, the smaller they get
and, relentlessly, the trees grow tall.
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