Native Trees by W.S. Merwin

Native Trees

by W. S. Merwin
Neither my father nor my mother knew
the names of the trees
where I was born
what is that
I asked and my
father and mother did not
hear they did not look where I pointed
surfaces of furniture held
the attention of their fingers
and across the room they could watch
walls they had forgotten
where there were no questions
no voices and no shade

Were there trees
where they were children
where I had not been
I asked
were there trees in those places
where my father and my mother were born
and in that time did
my father and my mother see them
and when they said yes it meant
they did not remember
What were they I asked what were they
but both my father and my mother
said they never knew

W. S. Merwin, “Native Trees” from The Rain in the Trees (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988). Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.


9 thoughts on “Native Trees by W.S. Merwin

  1. WOW! Amazing tree poem! Last night I watched a movie with a title something like–The Odd Life of Timothy Green. It has to do with trees, too. Remembering the trees from my childhood now. Apple trees. Hedgerow trees of…what? I wonder what my parents would say. Should ask them.


    • Oh!! I soooo wanted to see that movie! Maybe it will be on netflix or come to my library soonish! I cannot so much retain titles and things so every time I ‘discover’ them again, it’s new new new!! I’m doing pretty well with the food this month. Making rutabagas for mash for roast tomorrow to heat up. GF spaghetti for supper tonight. I even made GF pancakes for breakfast!


      • I’m doing well with food this month, too, strangely enough. Even when all else goes crazy, food has remained rather steady and wonderful. Glad to hear it’s thus for you, too.


        • Kathy? We have what they have labeled a snow storm, sugar fine snow already at an inch in less than an hour…glares 😛 Last time I checked 4-8 inches and then a half inch of ice on the top of that. Darn and I thought the bit that came thru here after yours was a bust left of your storm. The body has finally decided to succumb to the sneezy fever someone beat you with a baseball bat all of the sudden cold flu thing. Just put another batch of soup onto the stove. More books that I requested arrived at library and I got them before they closed early. Time to burrow in the bed I think! OH! Did you like the movie?


          • It was OK–the movie–just OK. Seems like they could have made it more serious and not so silly. So sorry to hear about your snowstorm. What a winter in so many places! As to the fever…get better soon. We’re in the middle of a winter storm warning. I’m pondering posting snow pics today. We shall see…


            • Thanks! The snow ended up being rather pretty. The soup was good. I ended up having to forego Maui time with J on the phone, which NOTHING EVER makes me do. He said Wow, you must be really sick, you never tell me that you need to sleep or that you want to go. roflmao

              Knowing a physical limit is very important! I had forgotten how important it is to tend the body and what it says. If I cannot feel physical limits, however will I notice shifts in grounding….DUH! Yay lessons! Did I mention that a bunch of books I inter library loaned came yesterday? Going back to bed to languish and pamper the body. Yuck for your storms, I’m hoping that you might notice simple average and yet gorgeous painting and sculpting of the Creator and have tingles!


    • lol yes, yes it is!! I was trying to figure out what a sticky post is and what it does/did. I like this one! I think I might go through and change the sticky post using the method that I did for following your Outdoor blog. Sometimes the season and the things going with it, that seem to be beyond my control are a sort of pattern, and helps me to have better perspective. Sometimes too, I can see that I was either very shiny or feeling very shiny when I wrote them. I could do with a bit of polishing I think 🙂


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