At the beginning of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie Nolan gazes at the tree in her yard and recalls lines of poetry learned in school:
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
To Francie, her tree is hope, for “no matter where its seed fell, it made a tree which struggled to reach the sky.”
I’ve been thinking about trees, and the hope they represent, this week. This might be because a piece of land I pass on my drive to work each day is being cleared and the most amazing tree has been revealed, not twenty feet from the road. It has a huge limb that grows almost perpendicular to the trunk before it arches up toward the sky, creating an inviting perch. Every day I want to stop my car and climb onto that seat.
I loved to climb trees when I was a kid. I loved being enfolded in their branches. My mother used to have a fit that I was too high, that I would fall and break my neck. I never did fall. Somewhere along the way I grew too old for climbing trees. But I’ve never stopped admiring their beauty, their resilience.
Trees nurture us in countless ways. They provide shade in summer and shelter in winter. Our air is purified by their leaves. They produce fruit and harbor bees and their honey. It’s no wonder that cultures throughout history have considered trees sacred and have worshiped them.
“Think Like a Tree,” by Karen I. Shragg captures the beauty and magic of trees and reminds us of their wisdom.
Soak up the sun
Affirm life’s magic
Be graceful in the wind
Stand tall after a storm…
Read the rest of this poem here.
Writers and poets have been celebrating trees for millennia. What is your favorite tree poem?
Be sure to visit Anastasia Suen’s Poetry Blog for today’s round up of poems.