Trees Before Abstinent Ground

by Simon Collings

My review of Peter Larkin’s latest collection of poetry Trees Before Abstinent Ground has been published today on Stride. As anyone familiar with Larkin’s poetry might expect, the five sequences in his new book involve us in an intimate and intense looking at trees. It is familiar territory. Larkin’s sense of veneration in the presence of trees, which for him involves an encounter with the sacral, is critical to his eco-politics. There is a stark contrast between a tree’s economy and fit to its environment, ‘in concord to site’, with our own profligacy and increasing lack of fit. Our cultural values need to be re-founded in an ethics of frugality, Larkin argues, if our current crisis is to be averted.