The tree I based that early poem on was situated in Stormont woods where we seemed to play endlessly, back in those innocent days of the Nineteen Fifties.
That massive beech was a magnet for boys: a special place, a site for ritual and solemn vows, where rival gangs met and many a scrap took place.
From its high branches there was a view, for miles, of placid fields and ever-encroaching suburbia.
The Big Tree, as we called it, has featured again and again over the years in my poems and, unsurprisingly, here it is again.
Up the rope ladder climbs the lad,
up, up into a cave of green
whose leaves surround him, sweet and sad.
The light there is aquamarine,
a patchwork of soft leaf and sky
where clouds, like icebergs, trundle by.
This is his special hiding place,
his eyrie. His bright kestrel eye
can spot, where grasses interlace,
the timid field-mouse scurry by,
a sparrow on the window ledge
or cat patrolling by the hedge.
The tree is vast, its branches stout:
he climbs through foliage to light.
With eager hands, he reaches out
to apprehend the sun in flight.
Perhaps he falls and, injured, bleeds.
Perhaps he seizes it, succeeds.