Tree

by Jane Hirshfield


Original Language English

It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.

That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books --

Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

-- from Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems, by Jane Hirshfield

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I like the uncertainty of this poem. On the one hand it suggests an image of spirituality like the steady, growing, wild "immensity" of a redwood. Yet the question remains, Should you let it grow close to your house? To do so is "foolish," eventually requiring a choice: the tree or the house. Will we choose the "great calm being" or the comfortable domestic "clutter of soup pots and books"?

Does it have to be a choice? Does it have to be one or the other? These are fundamental questions many serious spiritual practitioners wrestle with.

Perhaps... the tree forces us to change our concept of what a house is. We can reshape our home, build it around the tree. What could be a better solution than a house at rest in the tree -- a tree house!

But we had better get working. That redwood is growing. And the closing line hangs in the air -- "Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life."



Recommended Books: Jane Hirshfield

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Given Sugar, Given Salt: Poems The Lives of the Heart: Poems The October Palace: Poems Of Gravity & Angels
More Books >>





Tree