I have admired the yellow autumn leaves and the lichen on the old trunks.
But now it is leafless again and I think it is time to say goodbye.
It has been fun to watch the tree month by month and to muse on all things Mulberry. It has taken me on a historical journey, as I learnt that this tree was planted about 1550 by the grandfather of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts.
I learnt something about the myths of the birth of sericulture in ancient China. I found out how James 1 promoted a mulberry- planting scheme in England in a vain attempt to introduce silk production into this country. You shared with me the horrors of the idea of hatching out silkworm eggs in the cleavage as suggested in a treatise of the time.
In June I had a look at the myth of how the mulberry got its red colour as told by Pliny. The story of Pyramus and Thisbe is familiar to us from Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ but his source was Pliny.
I learnt that being a man of taste and discrimination, Shakespeare planted a mulberry in his garden in Stratford which was chopped down in 1756 by the owner of the house, the Rev. Francis Gastrell who was bothered by sightseers. The wood was made into souvenirs.
As the leaves turned yellow in Autumn, I had a look at Van Gogh’s wonderful painting of the mulberry tree in the grounds of the asylum at Arles where he was confined after the unfortunate episode with the ear.
So now it is time to finish with another literary reference. There is a very old mulberry tree in the grounds of Christ’s College, Cambridge. Not quite as old as mine, it was planted in 1608 at the time of Milton’s birth. There are said to be many ghosts haunting Christ’s College, and one of them is of a tall, elderly gentleman who lingers under the mulbery tree at midnight when there is a full moon. He is said to be full of remorse because he killed the only doctor who could have saved his dying sweetheart. Why he should haunt the mulberry tree I don’t know.
The tree attracted sightseers in Victorian times. I have explained how my tree has trouble standing up and has collapsed over the centuries. The one at Christ’s Cambridge has props to keep it upright.
The story goes that Milton composed his wonderful poem Lycidas sitting under the branches of this tree. I developed rather a dislike of Milton when I had to struggle with Paradise Lost at school. But this pastoral elegy is beautiful. And how appropriate to finish with the last lines of the poem, (often misquoted).
‘At last he rose, and twitch’d his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.’
Thank you so much Lucy at loosyandleafy bog for hosting this wonderful meme. I have really enjoyed it and I have learnt so much.