by NONA BLYTH CLOUD
Trees are becoming more important all the time. They produce almost one-third of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere. Trees are a major source of food, building materials, paper, medicine, cloth, and thousands of other things we use every day. For many people, their first bed is a cradle or crib made of wood, and their last resting place is a wooden coffin. Children climb trees, adults find it restful to sit in their shade, and we often plant trees in memory of loved ones.
The first Arbor Day in the U.S. was held in Nebraska in April, 1872, and the first U.S. National Forests were established in 1891.
So this Word Cloud is in honor of trees. We’d be lost without them.
by H. D.
lifted from the earth,
higher than my arms reach,
you have mounted.
higher than my arms reach
you front us with great mass;
no flower ever opened
so staunch a white leaf,
no flower ever parted silver
from such rare silver;
O white pear,
thick on the branch,
bring summer and ripe fruits
in their purple hearts.
“Pear Tree” is in the public domain
H.D. (1886-1961) born as Hilda Doolittle. In 1911, she went to Europe, intending to stay just for the summer, but remained abroad for the rest of her life. She became one of the leaders of the Imagist movement, a reaction to the excesses of Victorian and Romantic poetry. She published numerous poetry collections, including Sea Garden, Red Roses from Bronze and Helen in Egypt
by Nathaniel Bellows
Is it agony that has bleached them to such beauty? Their stand is at the edge of our property—white spires like fingers, through which the deer emerge with all the tentative grace of memory. Your father
loved these trees. When you try to imagine his childhood, it is all old footage, in a similar scheme: black and white. But he died, and all you know is that they reminded him of home. As they remind you he is gone
to a country as unimaginable as his life before you were born, before the woman who would be your mother lived as she does now—lost, wandering at the edge of her life’s whitened gates.
After a storm, one birch fell in the field, an ivory buttress collapsed across the pasture. Up close there is pink skin beneath the paper, green lichen ascending in settlements of scales. In the dark yard it beckons you back
to snow, the static of the past—your father, a boy, speaking in a tongue you never knew, calling down from the branches. Or the letter you wrote to a mother you weren’t allowed to miss—black ink scrawled across the white pulp of the page:
I am very lonely without you.
“Russian Birch” from Why Speak?, © 2007 by Nathaniel Bellows – W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Nathaniel Bellows is the author of the novel On This Day, and the poetry collection Why Speak? He is also a visual artist, a songwriter and a musician. Bellows lives in New York City.
Loveliest of Trees
by A. E. Housman
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
“Loveliest of Trees” is in the public domain
A.E. Housman (1859-1936) born Alfred Edward Housman, English poet and professor of Latin at Trinity College, Cambridge. He published only two volumes of poetry during his life, A Shropshire Lad and Last Poems. Housman died on April 30, 1936. A third volume, More Poems, was released posthumously by his brother later that year.
The Banyan Tree
by Rabindranath Tagore
O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond,
have you forgotten the little child, like the birds that have
nested in your branches and left you?
Do you not remember how he sat at the window and wondered at
the tangle of your roots and plunged underground?
The women would come to fill their jars in the pond, and your
huge black shadow would wriggle on the water like sleep struggling to wake up.
Sunlight danced on the ripples like restless tiny shuttles weaving golden tapestry.
Two ducks swam by the weedy margin above their shadows,
and the child would sit still and think.
He longed to be the wind and blow through your resting
branches, to be your shadow and lengthen with the day on the water,
to be a bird and perch on your topmost twig, and to float like
those ducks among the weeds and shadows.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was born in British India’s Calcutta (now Kolkata), was a prolific writer who had a major influence on Bengali literature and music. Tagore was the first Asian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1913. His brief poems in the collection Fireflies have been widely translated
The Tree Agreement
by Elise Paschen
The neighbor calls the Siberian Elm
a “weed” tree, demands we hack
it down, says the leaves overwhelm
his property, the square backyard.
He’s collar-and-tie. A weed tree?
Branches screen buildings, subway tracks,
his patch of yard. We disagree,
claim back the sap, heartwood, wild bark.
He declares the tree “hazardous.”
We shelter under leaf-hoard, crossway
for squirrels, branch house for sparrows, jays.
The balcony soaks up the shade.
Chatter-song drowns out cars below.
Sun branches down. Leaves overwhelm.
The tree will stay. We tell him “no.”
Root deep through pavement, Elm.
© 2016 by Elise Paschen, first appeared in Poetry magazine
Elise Paschen (1959 — ) is co-founder and co-editor of Poetry in Motion, a program which places poetry posters in subways and buses across the country. She is the daughter of the renowned Osage prima ballerina Maria Tallchief. Dr. Paschen teaches in the MFA Writing Program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her three poetry collections are Houses: Coasts (1985), Infidelities (1996) and Bestiary(2009). She was the Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America (1988-2001), and has edited numerous anthologies, including Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North America (1997)
The Sound of the Trees
by Robert Frost
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.
“The Sound of the Trees” is in the public domain.
Robert Frost (1874 – 1963) is one of the most celebrated American poets. He was born in San Francisco, but lived most of his life in the Eastern U.S., much of it in Vermont and Massachusetts. He published numerous volumes of poetry, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry four times: in 1924 for New Hampshire, for Collected Poems in 1931, for A Further Range in 1937, and in 1943 for A Witness Tree.
- Pear tree blossoms
- Russian Birch trees on the Volga Baltic Waterway
- Cherry Blossoms
- Banyan tree – photo by Chris Archer
- Siberian Elm
- Red Maples on a farm
World Cloud photo by Larry Cloud