22 Jun 2014

Poem of the Week: The Trees

I am making a few changes on this blog.

Firstly, there will no longer be a Three Days’ Word. But don’t despair! What I am merely doing is transferring the TDW to ordinary posts. As much as I can, I will include a rare, unusual and intriguing word in my posts—that particular word will be hyperlinked to its entry on the Oxford Dictionary (my favourite; and no, I have no affiliation with them).

The second change is that the Poem of the Week—and indeed, all of my other posts—will be written in a manner that is more active rather than passive. I will try to engage you lot: I will give you more detail, and some quotational analysis. (I’m starting to sound like that dull English teacher, now aren’t I?)

I shall also be making a little ‘Information Centre’ page; basically, this will give you some news about what’s going on with my books, and some projects I am currently engaged with—in writing or otherwise.

The Three Days’ Word is going away because it makes this blog look too much like a dictionary. Also, it’s more fun to understand a word when it’s used in a real life context, as opposed to the artificial environment of a dictionary.

The Information Centre came about because I think I was diverting too many words to various updates on the blog’s homepage, which should only really contain ‘the good stuff’. (I guess I’m doing that now as well, aren’t I?)

Moving on...

As you may have guessed, the poem is called ‘The Trees’. I guess I could have called it ‘The Supreme Battle between Mankind and Nature’ or perhaps ‘On Life, the Universe and Humanity’ but that would have been much too long-winded (and rather pretentious), so I went for ‘The Trees’.

As usual, you can view and download the poem on Google Drive:

Read and Download

Unlike normal, today’s dissertation/essay/writer’s thoughts shall include quotes and active engagement—geez, I must have really swallowed that marketing book whole...

Anyway, let’s begin with this:

We are the guardians of old
And the bastions of nature;
We are ancient, we are forever;
We are the Trees.

(It’s always a good idea to start from the beginning, isn’t it?)

‘The guardians of old’ immediately tells the reader (hopefully you) that the narrator considers themselves to be protectors, and have considered this their duty for a very long time. Also of note is the specific phrasing: ‘of old’. This particular expression is used in common speech to refer to a time that was beyond living memory; in this case, it refers to the living memory of all humans—the trees were here before us.

The ‘bastions of nature’ gives the Trees this image of almost being nature’s fortification. After all: where trees lie, animals are bound to follow. (It is also a little ironic, considering that humans have been chopping them down ever since we existed.)

The last line is quite obviously identifying the narrator (the voice of all trees). But it is the line ‘we are forever’ that is most crucial here—the Trees have gained the idea that they are beyond time.

(‘Why did I sign up for this?’ you’re thinking; well, keep reading, ’cos it gets better. I think.)

Now focus your attention towards this:

Frozen flakes
Of the merciless elements
Bit our branches:
And still we held steady.

A reader’s initial thoughts when reading the poem are that the Trees are nature; however, this is not the case. Nature—in the form of the elements, in this case—seems to be against them.

Here the track reaches a cross road. (That’s lit code for ‘there is more than one possible meaning’, BTW.)

It could be that the trees were once guardians of nature—but that in their power and seemingly endless longetivity, they forgot their place. A bit like Lucifer falling from the heavens, if you like.

More likely though: the trees never were what they think themselves to be. Nature is a collective of many individual organisms; and it has no leader, and knows no authority. The Trees were basically just a group of plants that got ahead of themselves.

For the more perspicacious among you, the correlation with humanity’s own view of itself is apparent. Too many people think we are the masters of our planet. We are not.

Again, the irony of the poem is apparent.

Fast forward a bit more, and we get to this:

We shall transcend space,
And the fabric of time –

This is the ultimate show of arrogance. The Trees haven’t just screwed off nature now—they’ve started to challenge the universe itself.

To Conclude

What’s the point of all this, you ask?

Well, an art form is not meant to give didactic messages, nor to masquerade as an essay. So, technically, you can determine whatever you please from it.

My message is: don’t be supercilious. There’s always a bigger monster in the forest...

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