It is National Poetry Day and I feel compelled to participate. Unfortunately, I tend to be much better at prose and the occasional limerick. Don’t believe me? The crowning achievement of my poetic career is this, written in eighth grade and shared by my dear friends throughout the entire school during a poetry appreciation event. Thanks again for that, guys.
There once was a girl named Ryanne.
In P.E. she started cryin’.
“I can’t run anymore;
I tripped on the floor!”
But everyone thought she was lyin’.
Pretty inspired, right?
Speaking of Robert Frost, he is one of my favorite poets and of his poems, I have always been especially drawn to one entitled “Tree at My Window” and, having been reading Ovid’s The Metamorphoses, noticed that trees seem to be a common focus of poetry. But why? I am inclined to believe because they are wonderful representations of the central themes of these poems: rootedness in a storm-tossed life.
For instance, in Frost’s poem, he describes the tree as a source of constancy amidst the turmoils of his life, that it has “seen [him] when [he] was taken and swept” and yet remains standing outside his window through storms that it is grounded enough to weather. Similarly, in Ovid, characters are often transformed into trees when they attempt to resist change. On one hand, this can be viewed as a punishment for it removes their human form, but on the other hand it is a blessing for it gives them the stability and constancy that they desired. In a world where change is constant, trees often act as a symbol of the rootedness and reliability that malleable men crave.
I have seen this in my own life. Being in the woods is calming to me in times of change because I am surrounded by these symbols of stability; apart from the stressors of everyday human life, it is easy to imagine that I am as secure and serene as they. This is what inspired the following, which shall serve as my own little contribution to National Poetry Day.
I would to be a tree
And let my roots grow deep
Into the rocky earth,
My place for ages to keep.
A creek would chill my toes
And laugh along its way,
But as a wizened oak,
In my seedling spot I’d stay.
The zephyr’d stroke my hair
And wind it ‘cross my face,
But though a dancing fir,
I would deign to leave my place.
Birds would nest in my arms
And sing sweet lullabies.
Come morn they’d leave my branches
Stretched toward familiar skies.
The storms would rage at me
And break my spreading crown.
Yet limbs and roots remain
And with ease I stand my ground.
Willows weep, pines may sigh
But set their roots down deep.
Unmoved by fickle season,
Their homes- lucky trees- keep.
Like the characters in The Metamorphoses (well, maybe not quite as I am still human and have not suffered any unfortunate interactions with Roman deities…) I am experiencing a time of change and my mind found comfort in the constancy of the woods and trees. Although this poem was nothing but the scribbled fancies of a moment alone with my thoughts and is certainly not Frost, it eased something in my soul to write it. And, after all, isn’t that what poetry is all about? Or should I say, “poe-tree“? Okay, that was quite possibly the worst pun I have ever made. Apologies. Anyway, happy National Poetry Day!