John Ashbery, “Some Trees”


These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were still a performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Such comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Placed in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.

Mark Kozelek, “Salvador Sanchez”
Japanese Songs
  • I really like the line “…as though speech were still a performance.” I mourn the days it was so, what ever happened to people thinking about what came out of their mouths or what comes from their pens? Maybe when people tell me that I am over analyzing, as they often do, it is more like calling attention to a dying breed of people who think about every word that comes out of their mouth and thus feel that others do too – hopefully, it is not me over analyzing, rather it is me expecting people to mean what they say; silly people like me, hehe.

  • The line speaks differently to me. There were and always will be some people who always speak their mind instantly, and some people who choose their words carefully. To me it’s about love and poetry – the fancy and fanciful words, the poetry, you might say to your partner, the words you wouldn’t normally use in everyday life. Those get saved up and used in a verbal performance. The trees, these objects, move together as if participating in this performance. It goes along with the last line of the third stanza, “We may touch, love, explain.” It’s the “explain” that really makes the connection for me. Touch, love, explain. Wonderful.

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