Collis in Sicily

Castagno_dei_cento_cavalli_-_Jean-Pierre_Houël c 1777It’s been a while since I shared a passage from The Worm Forgives the Plough, but I hadn’t yet run out of favorites. This one isn’t so poetic in itself, but it’s about a tree that other poets have sung about, and which I would enjoy visiting.

Once I saw Mount Etna in full volcanic eruption. It was a sight which held my attention. But at the bottom of the mountain there was another manifestation almost as fascinating — the Chestnut Tree of the Hundred Horses which is said to be the largest tree in the world. Thirty men holding hands do not quite succeed in surrounding it, while a hundred horsemen can find ample room beneath its foliage, as indeed was actually proved when Joan, Queen of Aragon, was caught in a storm nearby and took shelter there with her enormous retinue. And at the bottom of this tree a hold runs straight through, wide enough to admit two carriages abreast. It still yields a good crop of chestnuts.

— John Stewart Collis in The Worm Forgives the Plough  p.215

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