happened upon

this friendly-looking tree

deep in the woods

 so content and jolly

i think it would love to share its jokes.


“i never saw a discontented tree.

they grip the ground as though they liked it,

and though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do.”

– john muir



bird hiils park, ann arbor, michigan, usa – summer 2020

45 responses »

  1. This is a lovely poem and holds on many levels of the Tang period Chan-Tao nature poets Wang Wei and especially that of Li Po and Po Chu-i (David Hinton translations over those of Red Pine and Frank Watson). There are elements of poems in the Japanese from the Book of a Hundred Leaves (Kenneth Rexroth translation although his language is 50 years ago not modern forms of speech).

    The Wendell Berry line shared by windinmywheels is s good example of almost Zen-Tao nature poets but lacks the humor.

    Your poem is excellent in that you have an immediate relationship with the tree, which we poets tend to do simply by our being-as in the world. Seeing the tree as nature allowing you into its world in a humorous way that caps off with the love to hear its jokes is Tang Dynasty at its best in the modern world. You made it Now. Love it.

    The reason for my writing to you on the academic heritage of this poem is that you are probably aware of these movements in Asian literature which were 300 to 500 years ahead of lyrics in the West. A lot of people really screw up good poetry by falling into a pit of mimicry rather than absorption of the present, the always present. I read so many, even classic Japanese waka, haiku variations, that fail because of forcing the last line. You held your moment with this tree and gave it more life to share with us all by being a perfect poem. I wish it would “share its jokes”. I am not trying to kill “content” by over analyzing, something I did not even do other than to praise the history of a style.

    Thank you for sharing this poem. I hope it finds a wider audience. We need nature poetry that is successful as a short poem. It has life.

    Out of a hundred poems read there is always the chance a great one will show up and steal the show. We are all here because Love.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really like the way you think — and see. Yes, she does look rather jolly, and I bet she has many secrets that she keeps stored up in her trunk. Trees are nature’s way of showing us the steadfastness of life, if only we stay rooted in our souls. xo

    Liked by 1 person

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