Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trees and Poetry

The Maple Tree by John Clare
The Maple with its tassel flowers of green
That turns to red, a stag horn shapèd seed
Just spreading out its scalloped leaves is seen,
Of yellowish hue yet beautifully green.
Bark ribb'd like corduroy in seamy screed
That farther up the stem is smoother seen,
Where the white hemlock with white umbel flowers
Up each spread stoven to the branches towers
And mossy round the stoven spread dark green
And blotched leaved orchis and the blue-bell flowers—
Thickly they grow and neath the leaves are seen.
I love to see them gemm'd with morning hours.
I love the lone green places where they be
And the sweet clothing of the Maple tree.

The Leaf And The Tree by Edna St. Vincent Millay
When will you learn, myself, to be
a dying leaf on a living tree?
Budding, swelling, growing strong,
Wearing green, but not for long,
Drawing sustenance from air,
That other leaves, and you not there,
May bud, and at the autumn's call
Wearing russet, ready to fall?
Has not this trunk a deed to do
Unguessed by small and tremulous you?
Shall not these branches in the end
To wisdom and the truth ascend?
And the great lightning plunging by
Look sidewise with a golden eye
To glimpse a tree so tall and proud
It sheds its leaves upon a cloud?

Here, I think, is the heart's grief:
The tree, no mightier than the leaf,
Makes firm its root and spreads it crown
And stands; but in the end comes down.
That airy top no boy could climb

Is trodden in a little time
By cattle on their way to drink.
The fluttering thoughts a leaf can think,
That hears the wind and waits its turn,
Have taught it all a tree can learn.
Time can make soft that iron wood.
The tallest trunk that ever stood,
In time, without a dream to keep,
Crawls in beside the root to sleep.
There are literally hundreds of poems that feature trees. In all my travels, I love to watch how the trees change as you move from one latitude to the next. I love how something that we take for granted in our everyday wanderings changes as the seasons spin from one to the next. I love how the smell of spruce and pine makes me think of childhood Christmases, how the smell of lemons brings back spring in Sorrento.
What's your favorite tree?

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