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Olive trees
The story behind the poem

It is quite true that I do not seem to have any feelings of mutual sympathy with olive trees even though they surround us here in Umbria. They strike me as extraordinarily secretive plants, all shimmering surface designed to repel understanding. That is not to say that I don't find them beautiful, individually and collectively, whether they be young and graceful, or old, gnarled and weather-beaten. Perhaps it is something to do with there being so many of them, in serried ranks, and feeling outnumbered. But I don't think so. An olive tree all alone would probably inspire me with the same feelings.

In addition, there is the distancing factor of their fruit, which cannot be eaten off the twig or even put through a home-grown process to render it edible let alone palatable. I am told that the raw oil-making olive is in fact poisonous.

by Damaris West

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