Long days spent in front of computer screens certainly make me long for trees. But it’s late and pouring outside, so tonight I venture into the forest via this poem by David Wagoner (1926-) and remind myself to stand still.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
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.
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
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