Sunday, July 10, 2011

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree . . .

I have always liked this poem even though my teachers probably thought it was too simplistic. Sometimes it seemed like a poem had to be vague and beyond comprehension to be of quality. Personally, I preferred poems that only required a couple of readings--laziness on my part, no doubt. I always liked Wordsworth of course; he was British and wrote about daffodils, but when I had to memorize Flanders Fields by John Macrae, I had little understanding of the horrible warfare it chronicled. I blame that on my history teachers. But I digress. I love poems, but I love trees even more.

I came to this renewed realization today while on a walk. At first I noticed how many different trees there were and how some had been pruned to barely let me pass underneath. (I felt sorry for tall walkers for at least 3 seconds.) But then, I realized I had left home too late. It was getting warm and I had to keep crossing streets to find shade. I don't do well in heat, but actually, the shade from trees keeps the sun from baking us all. I'm not exaggerating. Think about the Sahara Desert. Just an unforgiving sun, no trees at all. I've seen plenty of poems lovelier than the sun. I don't hate the sun--it keeps us from freezing and wandering around bumping into trees, which of course couldn't grow without the sun, so fine, I like the sun, too--but I like trees way more.

In my childhood, from whence a plethora (:)) of wonderful memories come, I used to sit in a hollow area under and in between two giant lilac bushes and snowball bushes in my back yard. Probably daydreaming and/or hiding from the messy room police. In elementary school, on the way home, we walked by a giant fir tree and we could sit under it also. Trees--and bushes I guess--are like Mother Nature's skirts that shelter us from harm and where we are safe. Unless there's a thunderstorm when you probably shouldn't stand under them.

You know, I just really liked all the trees I saw on this morning's walk, but it's clearly as difficult to write about this particular sentiment as it is to write a really good poem, so I'll let Joyce Kilmer take it from here:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

---Joyce Kilmer


  1. I like haikus . . . and Shel Silverstein. And trees :).

  2. I loved your post, and the childhood memories it provoked, and walking, and Joyce's poem, and trees - especially aspens, willows, and blue spruce.