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Some Trees


These are amazing: each

Joining a neighbor, as though speech

Were a still 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.


John Ashbery’s “Some Trees” is about a relationship between two people and how it relates to the natural ebb and flow of nature. The first stanza of the poem, “These are amazing: each joining a neighbor, as though speech were a still performance. Arranging by chance…” expresses the speaker’s amazement for the day-to-day encounters between human beings (the nature of this particular meeting goes unsaid, but word use, i.e. “touch” and “love” may depict a romantic encounter). In nature, one will see trees’ branches outstretched and overlapping one another, like the way Ashbery describes them in a “still performance.” The chance meeting of the two people in Ashbery’s poem is surrounded by a “silence already filled with noises” which is similar to the oxymoron of the “still performance” Ashbery uses to describe the trees’ movement. Both of these references show the first moment of hesitation that arises upon meeting another person for the first time. The people may be quiet for the sole reason of not knowing initially what to say, but on the inside, they are nervous and anxious.

“From the world as agreeing” is a reference to the fate or destiny that has brought the two people together; the speaker believes that everything happens for a reason and there are no coincidences in the world. The trees are a metaphor for the people in Ashbery’s poem, which becomes evident when the speaker says, “With it, you and I are suddenly what the trees try to tell us we are: that their merely being there means something.” the meeting of the two is not accidental; it is happening for a reason. The “canvas” Ashbery refers to represents a fresh start for the two people, as it is painted with “A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.” It seems as though the speaker of the poem is explaining how the meeting of the these people “this morning” is the beginning of a new life for each of them. The emergence of the “chorus of smiles, a winter morning” is the first of many memories that the couple will share together.



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