Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh tree, oh mystery

I wonder if trees have rituals. Or perhaps they don't need them. Yet for us humans, trees are symbolically rich with extant meaning.

The Bible warns about eating from the archetypal Tree of Knowledge. In Celtic mythology, trees are symbolic of a range of human and supernatural qualities and phenomena such as magic (Rowan), enchantment (Ash), wisdom (Hazel), good fortune (Holly) and death (Willow). These and other trees were reminders and the focus of elaborate and portent rituals and celebrations.

I have always felt a great affinity with trees, spending oodles of childhood hours gazing up at them, innocently reassured and enchanted by them. How they evoke so effortlessly that deep-seated sense of mystery and awe that we lose sight of in the flotsam and jetsam of mundane existence!

The Sound of Trees

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

Robert Frost @ Spirit of Trees


  1. Trees are such a constant in our lives that we tend to forget about what they mean to us and every organism on earth. In the west of North America trees are dying by the thousands and it's frightening to imagine a loss of trees. Yet this is what's happening all around the world with deforestation. Thank you for this post and poem!

  2. Thanks for your comment Kimberly. Is there deforestation in the west of N America or is there some other reason why trees are disappearing there?

    I remember once seeing a truck carrying a load of cut logs as I was driving. Without any warning, I felt this deep sadness in my chest as if I had been neutered or disemboweled myself!

    I shudder at the thought of how trees, some young but many quite old and majestic, are irreverently guttered without thought for their role in the ecology of an area, whether urban, suburban or rural.