A tree growing out of the ground is as
wonderful today as it ever was.  It does not
need to adopt new and startling methods.

Robert Henri


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, 1914

You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.

Denise Levertov
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.

William Blake

I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!

John Muir


It is not pride when the beech-tree refuses to copy the oak.  The only
chance of any healthy life for him is to be as full a beech-tree as he can be.

Phillips Brooks


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What does one plant who plants a tree?
One plants the friend of sun and sky;
One plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty towering high.

Henry C. Bunner


Trees are different.  From the moment it sprouts until the day it
dies, a tree stays fixed in the same spot.  Its roots are nearer
than anything else to the heart of the earth, and its crown is
nearer to the sky.  Sap courses through it from top to bottom,
from bottom to top.  It expands and contracts according to
daylight.  It waits for rain, it waits for sun, it waits for one
season and then another, it waits for death.  Not one of the
things that enable it to live depends on its will.  It exists and
that's all.  Now do you know why trees are so good to stroke?
Because they stand so staunchly, because their breathing is
so slow and so serene and so very deep.

Susanna Tamaro


They who plant trees love others besides themselves.

Thomas Fuller


Not that I want to be a god or hero.  Just to change
into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone.

Czeslaw Milosz


One who plants a tree plants a hope.

Lucy Larcom


I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest
snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or
a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.

Henry David Thoreau


Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.

Khalil Gibran

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon
people's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air
that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes
and renews a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson


When I Am among the Trees
Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”


The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk,
and then dead timber.  The tree is a slow, enduring
force straining to win the sky.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


For in the true nature of things, if we rightly consider, every green
tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver.

Martin Luther

Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.

Rabindranath Tagore

I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep.

May Sarton

A tree is beautiful, but what's more, it has
a right to life; like water, the sun and the
stars, it is essential.  Life on earth is
inconceivable without trees.

Anton Chekhov


Trees are sanctuaries.  Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows
how to listen to them, can learn the truth.  They do not preach learning and
precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

Hermann Hesse

Trees are more than distant relatives.  They are and have been our intimate
associates throughout the whole of our evolutionary history.  Our primate
ancestors lived in the trees.  Millions of years later their descendants built
civilization with trees.  The forest provided and still provides us with many
raw materials for life, from food to tools, fuel, weapons, clothing, and
building materials.  Forests ecologically maintain our atmosphere,
protect us from flood and erosion, and moderate climate.

Bernd Heinrich
The Trees in My Forest



Saints are like trees.  They do not call to anyone, neither do they send
anyone away.  They give shelter to whoever cares to come, be it a man,
woman, child, or an animal.  If you sit under a tree it will protect you
from the weather, from the scorching sun as well as from the pouring
rain, and it will give you flowers and fruit.  Whether a human being enjoys
them or a bird tastes of them matters little to the tree; its produce
is there for anyone who comes and takes it.

Anandamayi Ma


Concerning trees and leaves. . . there's a real power here.  It is amazing that
trees can turn gravel and bitter salts into these soft-lipped lobes, as if I were
to bite down on a granite slab and start to swell, bud and flower.  Every year
a given tree creates absolutely from scratch ninety-nine percent of its living
parts.  Water lifting up tree trunks can climb one hundred and fifty feet an
hour; in full summer a tree can, and does, heave a ton of water every day.  A
big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly
intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn't make one.  A tree stands there,
accumulating deadwood, mute and rigid as an obelisk, but secretly it seethes,
it splits, sucks and stretches; it heaves up tons and hurls them out in a green,
fringed fling.  No person taps this free power; the dynamo in the tulip tree
pumps out even more tulip tree, and it runs on rain and air.

Annie Dillard


I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way
they have to live than other things do.  I feel as if this
tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here.
When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of
anything; I begin just where I left off.

Willa Cather
O Pioneers!


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For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says:  A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says:  My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us:  Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one's suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

Hermann Hesse
Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte
It is the planting of crops that separates man from the animal.  The
animal does not know there is a future; it does not know that it will
die.  We die, but the orchard survives.  The planting of trees is the
least self-centered of all that we do.  It is a purer act of faith than the
procreation of children.

Thornton Wilder
The Eighth Day

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When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these
different trees.  And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight,
and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever.  And
you look at the tree and you allow it.  You see why it is the way it is.  You
sort of understand that it didn't get enough light, and so it turned that way.
And you don't get all emotional about it.  You just allow it.  You appreciate
the tree.  The minute you get near humans, you lose all that.  And you are
constantly saying, "You're too this," or "I'm too this."  The judging mind
comes in.  And so I practice turning people into trees.
Which means appreciating them just the way they are.

Ram Dass

A tree says:  My strength is trust.  I know nothing about my fathers,
I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring
out of me.  I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care
for nothing else.  I trust that God is in me.  I trust that
my labor is holy.  Out of this trust I live.

Hermann Hesse
(see longer passage above)


The most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are.  The trees in
a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the
stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it
sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive.  Only some stumps are
thus nourished.  Perhaps they are the parents of the trees that make up the
forest of today.  A tree's most important means of staying connected to other
trees is a "wood wide web" of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an
intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information
and goods.  Scientific research aimed at understanding the astonishing
abilities of this partnership between fungi and plant has only just begun.

Tim Flannery
introduction to The Hidden Life of Trees



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When Walker first steps onto the road, he has no thoughts, no history, no memories, and no clothes. As he travels and meets people and learns from them, he comes to know more about life, living, and becoming the person he's meant to be. Walker is a parable for all of us who wonder what might be the purpose of life, why bad things happen with almost as much regularity as good things, and how we can learn from the bad examples and experiences in our lives as much as we can learn from the good things. Tom Walsh's parable is a story of the ages, a timeless exploration of ideas and thoughts that all of us wonder about, a sincere and heartfelt portrait of a man who has no past and no future, but who learns to make the most of each precious present moment as it comes.



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