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Unchopping a Tree
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 eleg ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Trinity University Press
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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
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, ...more
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 bluepri ...more
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."
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.