- Series: Everyman's Library Pocket Poets Series
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Everyman's Library (October 1, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1101908157
- ISBN-13: 978-1101908150
- Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 0.7 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Poems About Trees (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets Series) Hardcover – October 1, 2019
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
About the Author
HARRY THOMAS is the editor of Selected Poems of Thomas Hardy (Penguin, 1993) and Montale in English (Penguin, 2002). His poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in dozens of magazines. He is editor in chief of Handsel Books, an imprint of Other Press and an affiliate of W. W. Norton.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
PREFACE by Stanley Plumly
Harry Thomas has arranged his anthology of tree poems as much around complex attitudes toward trees as dramatic evocations of their arboreal being: ranging from the ‘‘gladness’’ of the fact of them to their natural, named, and significant presences to – sadly but beautifully – their ‘‘gladness gone.’’ Which is to say Thomas’ selection is emotional as well as analytical, political as well as philosophical, as it moves from celebration to meditation, from the reality and imagination of what trees are to a deepening awareness of what their loss means.
The range of poets is equally rich in variety, nationality, and history. Though the overall emphasis may be Anglo-American and the living moment especially contemporaneous, the individual poems develop in perspective from Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Georgics to examples from Matsuo Basho, and Yosa Buson to any number of international figures such as Eugenio Montale, Czeslaw Milosz, Bertolt Brecht, Giorgio Bassani and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, in first-rate translations by Lee Gerlach, Robert Hass, Edwin Morgan, Jamie McKendrick and Paul Muldoon. Indeed, ‘‘From all these trees,/in the salads, the soup, everywhere,/cherry blossoms fall’’ – writes the seventeenth-century Japanese poet Basho in the Hass version.
The mixture of tradition, innovation, and generation is as exciting as it is informing. You cannot assemble a tree anthology of poems without such classics as Wordsworth’s ‘‘Nutting’’ or Housman’s ‘‘Loveliest of Trees’’ or Whitman’s ‘‘I Saw in Louisiana a Live-Oak Growing’’ or Marianne Moore’s ‘‘The Camperdown Elm.’’ You cannot test the quality of the originality of the poetry without Montale’s ‘‘The Lemon Trees’’ or Seamus Heaney’s ‘‘The Birch Grove’’ or Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘‘The Apple Orchard’’ (translated by Seamus Heaney.) You cannot include the present without pairing such poems as Mary Oliver’s ‘‘The Black Walnut Tree’’ with Ellen Bryant Voigt’s ‘‘Landscape, Dense with Trees’ or Judith Wright’s lyrical ‘‘Train Journey’’ with her massive meditation ‘‘The Cedars’’ or James Wright’s elegiac ‘‘To a Blossoming Pear Tree’’ with Marvin Bell’s lovely lament ‘‘These-Green-Going-to- Yellow.’’
In terms of tone and poetic temperament, Thomas has effectively exercised his editorial rights to choices that are not only carefully crafted but open-ended in form and ambition; he values discipline and understatement but at the same time admires ‘‘tree’’ poems that think with their hearts, that enlarge the view with vision. David Ferry’s ‘‘Everybody’s Tree’’ is just that kind of contemporary visionary poem that at some one hundred associative, narrative lines, structured in moments like paragraphs, develops around both personal history and the larger caring time of local community, in a voice at once filled with losses and empathy for those losses. And no poet could be more empathic and expansive than Keats-contemporary John Clare in his ‘‘sweetest anthem’’ ‘‘To a Fallen Elm’’ – its wide, searching lines of direct address may come close to anger but they also abide with love.
There is so much to admire here in this beautifully focused gathering of poems, both in the familiar and as discovery. Some of my own favorites are Wordsworth’s ‘‘Yew Trees,’’ W. C. Williams’ ‘‘Burning the Christmas Greens,’’ Jorie Graham’s ‘‘Tree Surgeons,’’ Robert Graves’s ‘‘Not Dead,’’ Gerald Stern’s ‘‘The Cemetery of Orange Trees in Crete,’’ James Dickey’s ‘‘In the Tree House at Night,’’ and on and on. Because Thomas has arranged his selections around centers of both generosity and gravity he never loses sight of the essential thing: that trees are the great flowers of our world – life-givers, life-enhancers, life-poetry. They literally stand at the line between life and death. How many kinds of trees are there, how many purposes, how many differences among the domestic and the wild, the old growth and the new, the abrupt edges and the farmer’s field?
We love trees for a reason, we cut them down for other reasons, we kill them at our peril. The Ojebway believe that cutting down living trees is like the wounding and killing of animals. The pointless downing of trees is probably worse. For many decades my family’s business was the harvesting of trees, a business that would often take my father and his crews out into the Shenandoah for days at a time. This was in the Forties, during and after the war. As a small boy I’d sometimes go out with the men for a couple of days, if for nothing else than the feeling of being among the looming hardwoods – the big white oaks and scarlet and silver maples and shagbark hickories and massive black walnuts. Just to try to look straight up among them would be to lose your balance, yet their very presences changed the sky and lifted it all somehow.
The man-made cutting and trimming was one thing. The other was the natural competition for sunlight and rain and space among the trees themselves, so that there was an inevitable wear and tear and rot and fall that would leave the forest floor covered with ruins, all mixed up in layers of branch and root and debris. Such places in the woods always struck me as sad yet also sacred places, since, when I was old enough to really think about it, they were in-between places where the trees had decided the difference between the past and the future.
"Truly epic" - Laurell K. Hamilton Learn more
No customer reviews
|5 star 79% (79%)||79%|
|4 star 21% (21%)||21%|
|3 star 0% (0%)||0%|
|2 star 0% (0%)||0%|
|1 star 0% (0%)||0%|