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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Poetry Friday--Emailing Trees

In Melbourne, Australia, the city assigned ID numbers to trees in its public parks. The trees were also given email addresses so that citizens could report tree damage.

The result is that the city began to receive messages of appreciation for the trees--essentially love letters.
It’s a dynamic that is playing out more broadly, too, in concert with a profound shift toward the ubiquity of interactive, cloud-connected technologies. Modern tools for communicating, publishing, and networking aren't just for connecting to other humans, but end up establishing relationships between people and anthropomorphized non-human objects, too.

The above quote is from an article found in July on The Atlantic magazine website.

Of course, when thinking of love letters to trees, it's hard not to think of Joyce Kilmer's poem, "Trees," which had been around for a hundred and two years, having first appeared in Poetry Magazine in August 1913.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

In our children's room, we have two books that are devoted to poems about trees, Old Elm Speaks: Tree Poems by Kristine O'Connell George [J 811 GEO] and Poetrees by Douglas Florian [J 811.54 FLO].

Many other tree poems are found within poetry collections, including this joyous haiku by Issa found in Today and Today (Poems by Issa, illustrated by G. Brian Karas) [895.6 KOB]:
Just being alive!
--miraculous to be in
cherry blossom shadows!

Start the Labor Day weekend right by stopping by Teacher Dance for the Poetry Friday Round-Up, and then go out and love some trees!


  1. I know Old Elm Speaks, but haven't seen it in a long time. How interesting to think of e-mailing a tree. Could this idea spread. We now give kudos to restaurants and events on FB, but that implies people behind them. Thanks for that final Issa haiku, Diane. I still am writing some haiku, always interesting to consider a master's words.

    1. Of course, if you send an appreciation to the tree it's going to be read by a human, so, the writer is making a double connection! Keep writing those haiku!

  2. Diane, appreciations for printing the entire TREES poem, as the way I memorized as a child left out the 2nd stanza! I never looked it up to see if I was missing anything.
    And poetrees is such a favorite with the kids during my volunteer reading in school.They love how it opens up "sideways", & they decide it's to emphasize the height of trees. The older kids love Doug Florian's playing with words in the title & elsewhere.
    I also enjoy reading to them about the historical, famous trees in OLD ELM SPEAKS. The title alone gives me the shivers.
    A treeful new school year to Nesmith Library!

    1. Wow, censorship at play!

      Douglas Florian's work is always interesting in the way the words work with the space.

  3. Love letters to TREES. How wonderful! At first I was a little disturbed by the ID #s... must EVERYTHING be cataloged? Oh, cold numbers.... But the article is touching. Thank you!

  4. I'm all for love letters to trees. BTW, did you read that there's just been the first estimate of the number of trees in the world? Approximately 3.8 trillion--plenty to write letters to.

  5. I can see love letters for trees turning into a creative activity for students especially after reading Joyce Kilmer's poem that is perfect for all seasons. Thank you Diane for the other tree poems as well. I am so pleased that you are one of the contributors to Summer Splashings.

  6. Being a lover of trees, I'm especially attracted to tree poems. I love Kristine O'Connell George's Old Elm Speaks, memorized Kilmer's poem in 4th grade (complete with hand gestures), and wrote a sonnet about our redbud tree when I was in high school.

  7. I saw this article, Diane! I posted it on my FB page back in July. Leave it to the Aussies. :) What I said at the time was "With love to all my Aussie friends... some of whom were trees. Especially the ones en route to the Randwick School: the Frangipanis who dropped their flowers for Dylan to collect and offer me daily, and the Papaya with the sign that read: may a curse be on anyone who takes my fruit."