Let’s write a poem

by Ingrid Robeyns on December 6, 2021


Tall trees standing strong
in the distance a soft sun
wrapped in sweet silence

I turn my head up
searching to see a movement
a woodpecker taps

My walks never end
the trees keep calling me back
like a second home.



Ingrid Robeyns 12.06.21 at 4:25 pm

Now, you are invited to make your own poem (or copy a poem from a book by a Real Poet) that goes well with this photo. Doesn’t need to be in English.


Seekonk 12.06.21 at 7:56 pm

Your lovely poem and photo suggest Trees by Real Poet Joyce Kilmer, but how about these poetic lines on the importance of the legal thicket of due process from Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons:

ROPER: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
THOMAS MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down–and you’re just the man to do it–d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes. I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.


Ingrid Robeyns 12.06.21 at 8:18 pm

Thanks Seekonk! I didn’t know Joyce Kilmer’s ‘Trees’ – a great poem! (even for those of us who do not believe in god…)


Naomi 12.06.21 at 9:19 pm

T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart’s heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul’s sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time’s covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable Zero summer?



Bob Michaelson 12.06.21 at 11:46 pm

As was once widely known, Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren eviscerated Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” in their 1938 book Understanding Poetry, pages 274-278. I don’t have a copy of the book, so I’m unable to quote their comments, but they attacked the ludicrously mixed metaphors, such as the tree’s roots being its “hungry mouth” while its branches are its arms, its leaves are hair – quite a bizarre assemblage of mixed parts! They conclude by referring to Kilmer’s last couplet, saying something to the effect that not all poems are foolish, but bad poems are made by bad poets.


J-D 12.06.21 at 11:54 pm

Well, I’m torn. Should I cite Ogden Nash’s Song Of The Open Road, or Robert Frost’s The Road Less Traveled, or JRR Tolkien’s ‘In the willow-meads of Tasarinan’?


alfredlordbleep 12.07.21 at 12:28 am

Seekonk, quite the passage I’ve quoted myself.
And found at least one other doing the same.
Powerful good.


Ingrid Robeyns 12.07.21 at 7:01 am

B0b Michaelson @5 – I take it you mean widely known in the English-speaking world and/or among those who study literature…? I did neither and I never heard of this Poem. Although I think it’s valuable as an amateur to try to get better in distinguishing what makes a poem good or bad, there is also to many amateurs something that destroys the fun of reading (let alone writing) poems, if that activity would require them to take the professional analysist’s eye.


nastywoman 12.07.21 at 7:20 am



andrew_m 12.07.21 at 7:42 am

Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren were clearly not botanists. The function of roots is to take in water & nutrients; distinctly mouth-like, in other words


Chris Bertram 12.07.21 at 8:24 am

Since I’m reading Victor Hugo at the moment, here is the end of his Aux Arbres:

Arbres de ces grands bois qui frissonnez toujours,
Je vous aime, et vous, lierre au seuil des antres sourds,
Ravins où l’on entend filtrer les sources vives,
Buissons que les oiseaux pillent, joyeux convives!
Quand je suis parmi vous, arbres de ces grands bois,
Dans tout ce qui m’entoure et me cache à la fois,
Dans votre solitude où je rentre en moi-même,
Je sens quelqu’un de grand qui m’écoute et qui m’aime!
Aussi, taillis sacrés où Dieu même apparaît,
Arbres religieux, chênes, mousses, forêt,
Forêt! c’est dans votre ombre et dans votre mystère,
C’est sous votre branchage auguste et solitaire,
Que je veux abriter mon sépulcre ignoré,
Et que je veux dormir quand je m’endormirai.


Lynne 12.07.21 at 2:01 pm

Ran across this recently, by Emily Dickinson:

The Heart asks Pleasure—first—
And then—Excuse from Pain—
And then—those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering—

And then—to go to sleep—
And then—if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die—


Dave 12.07.21 at 2:39 pm

<a href="https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57814/an-old-fashioned-song"An Old-Fashioned Song

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.

No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.


LFC 12.07.21 at 8:10 pm

Flawed coroners of evil,
Imperfect heralds of good,
The trees ask nothing,
Disclose nothing,
Believe nothing.

They have seen much,
Forgotten little.

Seismographs of nature’s cruelty,
Registers of its cyclic complaints,
They mutely witness
The planet’s decay.

With luck, they will be standing
After the last human departs.


Ingrid Robeyns 12.07.21 at 9:59 pm

@LFC – very impressive – (also a bit sad and dark, but that’s just fitting imo). Thanks for taking up the challenge to write your own :)


J-D 12.07.21 at 11:15 pm

I was thinking recently about triolets, so how about this?

I scan the trees and I see aisles.
They urge me on to come what may.
The journey might be many miles …
I scan the trees and I see aisles,
A stringent grid of ranks and files:
Perhaps tomorrow, not today
I scan the trees and I see aisles:
They urge me on to come what may.


Alan White 12.07.21 at 11:25 pm

A good poem Ingrid. Here’s my haiku–

Ancient strata is
layered above ground in rings:
sequoia redwood.


LFC 12.07.21 at 11:37 pm

Ingrid R.,


Delos 12.08.21 at 12:10 am

A day late….

Pogonip Elegy

In the morning there are the deer
at the edges of glades, slipping among trees
And the trees themselves.

Who can speak the tongue this speaks?
No man. But men give it a name-
they call it Magic.

If we’re quiet, we can hear it.
Though we are unquiet it is there nevertheless-
the thing behind the things we do:

Seeing the hawk, soaring
great factories are built, technologies
born, a plane takes shape, another..
we fly More: higher, farther, faster-
but land dissatisfied.
For it is the hawk that soars, and we
soar only with his soaring.

There is a magic that informs the world
That gives thought to growing
The Goddess,

Who makes this world a garden-
Spreads daisies like a carpet of stars, fills the hollows
with sweet bay- Yet,

ominous under the mist, a strange tocsin sounds-
the ‘reverse’ klaxon of a bulldozer.
The ringing stops as it moves forward.

The old oak’s limbs writhe runes I now can read-
One of you denies me, One of you
betrays me.

It’s said the more we know, the less we can believe.
There is an old word for what we do here:
that word is Sin.


Bob 12.08.21 at 2:12 am

From Goethe:

Über allen Gipfeln
Ist Ruh’,
In allen Wipfeln
Spürest du
Kaum einen Hauch;
Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.
Warte nur, balde
Ruhest du auch.


Frank Wilhoit 12.08.21 at 11:09 pm

Attributed to (among others?) E. B. White:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

(Minority report: Kilmer was a poet in much the same way that Tang is orange juice.)


J-D 12.09.21 at 1:04 am

I don’t have a copy of the book, so I’m unable to quote their comments, but they attacked the ludicrously mixed metaphors, such as the tree’s roots being its “hungry mouth” while its branches are its arms, its leaves are hair – quite a bizarre assemblage of mixed parts!

There’s no mixed metaphor. The roots are like a mouth; that’s one metaphor. The branches are like arms; that’s a separate metaphor. The leaves are like hair; that’s yet another separate metaphor.

The combined effect of presenting the tree as something with its mouth in the dirt while its arms and hair are oriented to the sky may suggest an image of something contorted, perhaps even grotesquely contorted, but even if that is a fault, the fault is not one of mixing metaphors.


J-D 12.09.21 at 1:08 am

Attributed to (among others?) E. B. White:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.

That’s Song Of The Open Road, by Ogden Nash, which I cited earlier. Don’t take my word for it, though, check for yourself.


AnthonyB 12.09.21 at 2:21 am

“Aram nemus vult” (Pound)


Bart Barry 12.09.21 at 7:37 am

In the wrack of second growth
wan sketch of Forest

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