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Trees - Poems


tariki
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I was on my way to the local soccer ground yesterday and once again was reminded of my growing love of trees. It seemed to be trees that continued to catch my eye and offer joy to my heart. It hasnt yet got to the hugging stage but there is just something there in each individual tree that brings comfort, even consolation from some of lifes downsides. Perhaps not best to think too much about it, to reason out just why..........yet it does seem to be the sense of chaos within a fundamental symmetry. The tangle of individual leaves and branches, the colours of each, all offered as a packaged gift! I love them!

 

Sadly, round my neck of the woods, we seem to have the usual assortment of vandals who see a tree in ways different from myself. Many saplings are planted, and often these are snapped off and thrown aside, most likely by some young lad who has tanked himself up on half a lager and finds time on his hands. Well, never mind, still enough left to enjoy.

 

There is a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins that laments over the cutting down of a row of trees, its called Binsey Poplars......

 

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,

Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,

All felled, felled, are all felled;

Of a fresh and following folded rank

Not spared, not one

That swam or sank

On meadow and river and wind-wandering

weed-winding bank.

 

O if we but knew what we do

When we delve or hew-

Hack and rack the growing green!

Since country is so tender

To touch, her being so slender,

That, like this sleek and seeing ball

But a prick will made no eye at all,

Where we, even where we mean

To mend her we end her,

When we hew or delve:

After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.

Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve

Strokes of havoc unselve

The sweet especial scene,

Rural scene, a rural scene,

Sweet especial rural scene.

 

Anyone else with a love of trees?

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I have a fondness of trees, they represent to my mind a spontaneous naturalness and dignity, they exhibit these qualities in response to their environments; they grow, weave, and press toward the light without being self-conscious about it. Trees are also an important religious symbol as they bridge heaven to earth and earth to the underworld. No wonder there is the 'tree of life' (heaven to earth?), the 'tree of knowledge' (earth to the underworld?), and the cross which is called a tree in the New Testament. A tree can represent a unity between heaven and earth, God and man.

 

I'm far from hugging them, though. :P

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Reflecting upon this I wonder just why it is that some will see the beauty of things while others see only objects. Easy I suppose to pat myself on the back and take credit for a degree of empathy towards the world around me, yet looking back on my life things seem sometimes to melt into mystery. Karma, Grace, Mercy........words and more words!

 

Anyway, The English poet William Blake once wrote........To the eyes of a miser a gold coin is far more beautiful than the sun, and an old bag worn with the use of money of far more divine proportions than grapes hanging on the vine. The tree that brings tears of joy to one man is just a green thing that stands in the way of another. As a man is so shall he see.(and, no doubt, a woman too!)

 

And W H Auden......

 

That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,

Were axioms to him, who'd never heard

Of any world where promises were kept,

Or one could weep because another wept.

 

And Gandhi looked at a cow and saw "a poem of pity"..........rather than a beefburger.....

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Tariki,

 

Perhaps because the one creates the other. Yet are not all the things the same?

 

Joseph

 

Hi Joseph,

 

Glad to see you popped into this gentle little thread. Not really sure about "all things being the same" - were the Binsey Poplars the "same" after the "strokes of havoc" did there work upon them?

 

 

Give me a land of boughs in leaf,

A land of trees that stand;

Where trees are fallen there is grief;

I love no leafless land.

A E Housman

 

Anyway, I've been googling, looking up "trees".........some wonderful pictures are floating around in cyberspace.

 

All the best

Derek

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Mary Oliver writes poems about woods, among many other kinds of nature poems that she does so gracefully. This one has a nice mix of Christian & Taoist feeling to it.

 

 

When I Am Among the Trees

 

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

 

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

 

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

 

And they call again, “It’s simple” they say,

“you too have come into the world to do this,

to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

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  • 4 weeks later...

It seems that trees are associated with Buddha -- he was born and died under sala trees, and was enlightened while sitting under a pipal or Bodhi tree. This reminded me of another poem by Mary Oliver --

 

 

The Buddha’s Last Instruction

 

“Make of yourself a light,”

said the Buddha, before he died.

I think of this every morning as the east begins

to tear off its many clouds of darkness,

to send up the first signal—

a white fan streaked with pink and violet, even green.

An old man, he lay down between two sala trees,

and he might have said anything,

knowing it was his final hour.

The light burns upward,

it thickens and settles over the fields.

Around him, the villagers gathered

and stretched forward to listen.

Even before the sun itself hangs,

disattached in the blue air,

I am touched everywhere

by its ocean of yellow waves.

No doubt he thought of everything

that had happened in his difficult life.

Slowly, beneath the branches,

he raised his head.

He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.

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What a blessing to be back among the trees. Thank you. Rivanna. I've looked up your poem as it was new to me and I wasn't really sure what to make of it. The versions found have some extra lines, including......

 

yet I feel myself turning

into something of inexplicable value.

 

Anyway, thanks again. "Be ye lamps unto yourselves" This is not the place for debate, just to say that context is everything!

 

As the Buddha has been mentioned, I would like to offer another poem, completely off topic as far as trees are concerned, but hey! I started this thread so....... Maybe this is another familiar one. It's by Billy Collins, written in his usual whimsical style.

 

Shoveling Snow With Buddha

 

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok

you would never see him doing such a thing,

tossing the dry snow over a mountain

of his bare, round shoulder,

his hair tied in a knot,

a model of concentration.

 

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word

for what he does, or does not do.

 

Even the season is wrong for him.

In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?

Is this not implied by his serene expression,

that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

 

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,

one shovelful at a time.

We toss the light powder into the clear air.

We feel the cold mist on our faces.

And with every heave we disappear

and become lost to each other

in these sudden clouds of our own making,

these fountain-bursts of snow.

 

This is so much better than a sermon in church,

I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.

This is the true religion, the religion of snow,

and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,

I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

 

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow

as if it were the purpose of existence,

as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway

you could back the car down easily

and drive off into the vanities of the world

with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

 

All morning long we work side by side,

me with my commentary

and he inside his generous pocket of silence,

until the hour is nearly noon

and the snow is piled high all around us;

then, I hear him speak.

 

After this, he asks,

can we go inside and play cards?

 

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk

and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table

while you shuffle the deck

and our boots stand dripping by the door.

 

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes

and leaning for a moment on his shovel

before he drives the thin blade again

deep into the glittering white snow.

 

Billy Collins

Edited by tariki
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