A poem by Robert Frost:
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.
I read this about the poem on the internet (caps left intact): “BIG IDEA IS MAYBE SOMETHING LIKE THIS … we know we’re essentially alone in the universe, but luckily enough, we can still feel strange senses of companionship with the objects of the world.” I would agree with the assessment, but would of course change “objects” to “other beings.” Because, you know, trees are alive.
We did an exercise in our writing group last weekend where we drew trees that represented our lives. We imagined that on the day we were born, a tree was planted, and that since then, whatever we’ve done, whatever has happened to us, whatever we’ve thought for felt–all of those things have also been true for the tree. We visualized the tree’s roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and surroundings. Is your tree in Spring? In Winter? We drew what we thought these trees might look like, and then talked about their symbolism and how it relates to our writing.
Without fail (I’ve done this exercise with many groups of kids and adults I’ve worked with), everyone had a specific tree in mind, a tree that loomed large in their memory. They could speak, very vibrantly and eloquently, about their tree: climbing it as a kid, watching birds visit and nest in its branches, hearing its leaves rustle in the wind at night.
I bet you, too, have a tree in mind.
Like listening to stories about trees? Check this out.