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Unchopping a Tree

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  32 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
There’s no mystery to chopping down a tree. But how do you put back together a tree that’s been felled? Mystical instructions are required, and that’s what W. S. Merwin provides in his prose piece “Unchopping a Tree,” appearing for the first time in a self-contained volume. Written with a poet’s grace, an ecologist’s insights, and a Buddhist’s reverence for life, this ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Trinity University Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Jon Letman
Dec 29, 2015 Jon Letman rated it it was amazing
This is a very short but profound book. It reminds us that it is far easier to chop down a tree than to unchop one. Something to ponder.
Nov 01, 2016 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Absolutely beautiful
Rob Charpentier
Sep 09, 2014 Rob Charpentier rated it really liked it
This is my very first book that I have won in a Good Reads giveaway. However, I can’t really call this a true “first read,” as I was already familiar with this particular work and author. Originally this one piece of writing was from a collection of stories first published in 1970. Oddly, I came across this back in college through a textbook of all things, which anyone that has ever had the experience of reading one of these will most likely agree that even when you find something to your liking ...more
Jun 02, 2014 Correen rated it really liked it

A philosophical prose-poem that expresses concern for nature. I do not know what Merwin was saying in his poem or what message he hoped we would receive. He writes of an imagined process of putting a tree back together after it has been chopped down. The poem took me to a time when I drove through the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State after loggers had clear cut large sections of the Olympic Forest. I wanted to put it back together and preserve the treasure that was lost. In Merwin's poem,
Dec 08, 2014 Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It was sad to learn that W.S. Merwin’s planned February reading in Bellingham had to be cancelled due to the author’s shaky health, but reading this intimate book feels like spending time in his hallowed presence. The 89 year-old poet, translator and prose stylist instructs how to reassemble a tree that has been felled, in language that is both direct yet deep with multiple meanings. Part prose poem, part ecology lesson and part Zen instruction manual, Unchopping a Tree shares a mystical ...more
Jun 09, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Unsettling with a meaning hard to pin down. Gorgeous book. My favorite thing is the colophon about how "Trinity University Press strives to produce its books using methods and materials in an environmentally sensitive manner." One becomes aware that the book itself is a tree that remained "chopped."
May 10, 2014 Michele rated it it was amazing
This short, quick read book is a poetically written story about how one would methodically, delicately and effectively "unchop a tree" - basically put a tree that has been chopped down back together. It is a sweet, short story that leaves you with a smile and wandering thought.
Beverly Fuller
May 14, 2014 Beverly Fuller rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won "Unchopping A Tree" on Goodreads First Reads. This is a short, wonderful book about what you would need to do to put a tree back together after it has been chopped down. It's a very sweet and profound book.

May 13, 2014 Donna rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
Received this through first reads. Maybe I am not philosophical enough, but I saw no point to any of it. It just made no sense.
May 16, 2014 Marianne rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Very inventive and abstract in concept. Enjoyable. I would like to thank the author and publisher for this book i won in the Goodreads First Reads contest.
Erika rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2015
Lee Cart
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Trinity University Press
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Mar 26, 2014
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William Stanley Merwin (New York City, September 30, 1927) is an American poet, credited with over 30 books of poetry, translation and prose. During the 1960s anti-war movement, Merwin's unique craft was thematically characterized by indirect, unpunctuated narration. In the 1980s and 1990s, Merwin's writing influence derived from his interest in Buddhist philosophy and deep ecology. Residing in ...more
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