Treeby Jane Hirshfield
Original Language English
It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
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|
/ Photo by morgenlandfahrer /
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."