they have carried me in their branches

Pulitzer Prize-winning W.S. Merwin was born in New York in 1927 and is currently living in Hawaii after years of traveling the world. He has not only written countless poems with themes ranging from mythology to strong anti-war sentiments but has also done many translations of French, Italian, Latin and  Spanish poetry. Check him out.

Yosemite, 2007.
Yosemite, 2007.

“Trees”

I am looking at trees
they may be one of the things I will miss
most from the earth
though many of the ones I have seen
already I cannot remember
and though I seldom embrace the ones I see
and have never been able to speak
with one
I listen to them tenderly
their names have never touched them
they have stood round my sleep
and when it was forbidden to climb them
they have carried me in their branches

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “they have carried me in their branches

  1. I like it. Another (very famous) tree poem:

    Some Trees
    by John Ashbery

    These are amazing: each
    Joining a neighbor, as though speech
    Were a still performance.
    Arranging by chance

    To meet as far this morning
    From the world as agreeing
    With it, you and I
    Are suddenly what the trees try

    To tell us we are:
    That their merely being there
    Means something; that soon
    We may touch, love, explain.

    And glad not to have invented
    Some comeliness, we are surrounded:
    A silence already filled with noises,
    A canvas on which emerges

    A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
    Place in a puzzling light, and moving,
    Our days put on such reticence
    These accents seem their own defense.

  2. A favorite:

    Birches, by Robert Frost

    When I see birches bend to left and right
    Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
    I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
    But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
    Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
    Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
    After a rain. They click upon themselves
    As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
    As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
    Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
    Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust–
    Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
    You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
    They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
    And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
    So low for long, they never right themselves:
    You may see their trunks arching in the woods
    Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
    Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
    Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
    But I was going to say when Truth broke in
    With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
    (Now am I free to be poetical?)
    I should prefer to have some boy bend them
    As he went out and in to fetch the cows–
    Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
    Whose only play was what he found himself,
    Summer or winter, and could play alone.
    One by one he subdued his father’s trees
    By riding them down over and over again
    Until he took the stiffness out of them,
    And not one but hung limp, not one was left
    For him to conquer. He learned all there was
    To learn about not launching out too soon
    And so not carrying the tree away
    Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
    To the top branches, climbing carefully
    With the same pains you use to fill a cup
    Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
    Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
    Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
    So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
    And so I dream of going back to be.
    It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
    And life is too much like a pathless wood
    Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
    Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
    From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
    I’d like to get away from earth awhile
    And then come back to it and begin over.
    May no fate willfully misunderstand me
    And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
    Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
    I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
    I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
    And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
    Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
    But dipped its top and set me down again.
    That would be good both going and coming back.
    One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

    ** Some particularly wonderful lines:

    “Earth’s the right place for love:
    I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”

    “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s