This is a powerful poem by Frank Williams, one which well repaid the rereading and pondering throughout the day.
Sycamore of course is a particular tree conjuring a very precise image, as I have watched the fall of the leaves and especially the seeds of a sycamore in my garden countless times over the years. But what I particularly love about this poem is how it invokes in me a complex religious and spiritual reaction. Sycamore is a tree with Biblical connotations, and was specifically mentioned as the tree from which the disciple Judas suicided after betraying Jesus. So I feel encouraged to imagine the dry leaf breaking free could become an ambiguous analog of my own loss of faith, breaking from religion, and discovering with amazement a sense of intellectual freedom.
Then I ponder again the 2 syllable trochee of the opening line, which I believe has been made deliberately jarring: "still day…" Obviously the phrase can be read as a straightforward physical description – cleverly rendered as a palpable experience by the ellipsis. But I also read it as a spiritual exhortation – that one does not actually descend into darkness or spiritual or moral night by abandoning religion. One discovers – perhaps to one's own surprise – that it is still day, still light, and indeed still beautiful.
Thank you for publishing this thoughtful and thought-provoking work.