The Slender Tree

by Anne Renshaw 2008

No, I cannot soar like a bird of prey, like an empress of the sky,
For my wings are weak and my feathers few but I know I want to fly.
My voice is small and may not be heard by the mighty powers that be
But I’ve many words going through my head and I need to set them free.

I have dreamt of this – just a little space to express what’s deep in me
And I’m thankful now for the chance to sing, just to see what I can be.
But you don’t want me or my simple songs, you want polish, glitter, gold.
You will cast me down like a used-up rag or a shoe that’s worn and old.

I had found the trunk of a slender tree, I found shelter in its shade.
And it drew me in to its very core as with joy I sang and played.
In its roots I found such a brimming pot full of heritage and song
And a pride reborn in my native land that was dormant for too long.

It’s a slender tree but a fruitful one and those fruits can turn to gold
But it needs much care for its buds to form as its sap can soon run cold.
If you cut its roots it will drop its leaves, it will wither, fade and die
And without that tree I will lose my songs and the world will pass me by.

I am not alone, there are more like me and the music fills our souls,
Though we dare not hope for the highest prize we will strive to reach our goals.
But you’d rather have just a few rare gems than a treasure chest of song,
Though without a ring for that diamond bright all its lustre won’t last long.

Should I hide my head in the deepest sand and abandon all my dreams
Or put up a fight for that slender tree, for its life now fragile seems?
Will a ripple swell to a tidal wave? Will it flood throughout the land?
You will feel its force. You will hear its song, and at last you'll understand,
at last you'll understand

This song won the audience vote at the Edinburgh Folk Club song-writing competition in June 2008 and was brought to Sangschule by one of our members.

Anne has entered some information about her development as a singer and writer on the website for the Edinburgh-based Scots Music Group as part of their history of people who have grown into performing as a result of contact with the Group, or its earlier incarnation, ALP.

Anne says :I gained confidence in performing solo at SMG’s 'Cafe Ceilidh’ and then later at 'The Big Seat by the Fire’ both of which I started going to in 2007. I also started writing my own songs that year, using these performance opportunities to gauge reaction to them. Contacts made through this and SMG’s 'Linten Adie’ class led to singing at pub and folk club sessions and I’ve now had several floor spots at a couple of clubs. Highlights so far are being asked to be one of three acts at a concert (The Flowers of Edinburgh) last April, winning the audience vote at the Edinburgh Folk Club songwriting competition last June for my song 'The Slender Tree’ and doing a half hour songs/chat interview for Radio Borders.”

"The Slender Tree" tries to convey Anne’s feelings about the importance for her of getting in touch with her heritage of Scottish song, sharing this with others and finding her own voice, both as a singer and a writer.