Introduction

The poem “The Prayer of the Woods” is engraved onto sign posts at the entrance of forest pathways across North America, although the poet’s identity has never been revealed. That’s why it’s referred to be an anonymous poetry. According to legends, “The Prayer of the Woods” is an English translation of a Portuguese poetry. “Ao viandante” is the name of the original Portuguese poem, which roughly translates to “to one who goes by” or “to the one who journeys through this region.”

This Portuguese poetry is etched on a stone, within the walls of the Castelo de S. Jorge, a castle in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city.

About The Poet

The poet’s identity is not known; hence it is an anonymous poem.

Theme Of The Poem

In this poem, the author imagines himself as a tree, one of many that grows along a specific forest route and is likely to be chopped down. As a result, the environment in which it thrives is its natural home, but it is also a risky situation. This entire poem is an appeal to the human race to protect the environment by begging that no trees be chopped down.

Stanza 1

I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights,
The friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,
And my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.

The tree tells the travellers in this verse that it supplies the logs that we humans burn in our fireplace to keep our homes warm on a cold winter night. The tree also claims to provide shade beneath itself to protect humans from the blazing heat throughout the summer. The tree is our sole companion in such a condition. As they continue on their journey, they feel thirsty due to tiredness. During such times, the fruits on the tree can quench their thirst. Our thirst can only be quenched by the juices of those fruits.

Stanza 2

I am the beam that holds your house,
The board of your table, the bed on which you lie,
And the timber that builds your boat.

The tree talks about how it offers building materials for humans in this verse. Trees provide us with the timber we need to construct the beams that support our roofs and floors. The planks that make up the tables on which we store our food are likewise made of wood. The foundation of the beds on which we sleep is made of wood. If we need to go from one location to another, we need boats, and the wood used to construct these boats is also sourced from trees.

Stanza 3

I am the handle of your hoe,
The door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle,
And the shell of your coffin.

The tree continues to demonstrate how beneficial it is to humanity in this stanza. The plough is used by humans to cut down our crops, and while the blade is made of metal, the handle is made of wood. Our homes’ entrance doors are similarly constructed of wood. The cradle in which we place our most cherished family members, specifically, our children, is made of wood too. When our lives come to an end, we are placed in coffins, the exterior casing of which is also constructed of tree wood.

Stanza 4

I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer:
Harm me not.

The tree expresses that it is both friendly and beautiful, in this poem. It gives fuel for mankind’s survival. It also provides flowers for us to utilize to decorate our homes for festivities or religious ceremonies. As a result, the tree plays an important role in human life. These are characteristics that the tree feels are valued by travellers. As a result, it asks travellers passing by not to chop it down.