Trees' deep incarnation

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In a context of ecological calling forth, with regard both to human impacts on other kind and the agency of more than humans, this essay situates firs and their active relation to appeal/prayer in Peter Larkin's 'praying // firs \\ attenuate' in the contexts of: biblical trees, Ming dynasty artist Shen Zhou's 'Night Vigil',and plantation firs. The essay, then, describes firs' participation in the non-binary, indeterminate process of call-response at play in the poem,especially through Larkin's trope of scarcity-gift. The ecotheological concept of 'deep incarnation', particularly as it relates to the cross, offers a way of approaching this concept of scarcity-gift and, moreover, opens to an ecological night of the soul, which rather than 'dark' could be described as 'a green night of the soul'. Larkin's poem offers an uncanny engagement in this 'night' through inviting the reader into a 'cloud of unknowing' with respect to both fir and writing. In this process of invitation a reader finds herself called forth to a mode of attentiveness. This attention extends beyond the immediate but necessarily distant firs of the poem. By way of conclusion, the author marks her own being called forth by Larkin's 'praying // firs \\ attenuate', to attend to local trees in writing.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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