Little Tree, After Christmas

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This year, thanks to several fellow bloggers, I was introduced to and fell in love with E. E. Cummings’ poem, Little Tree. (How had I missed this all these years?? ) I have no idea what Cummings intended or what others see, but, to me, there are such contrasting layers here. There is the sweet compassion of a small child toward the little tree, but also the cavalier way that humans interact with nature and declare our desires/needs of paramount importance. (And, yes, I do typically have a live tree…sigh)

Little Tree

by E.E. Cummings
little tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see          i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly …
click here to read the rest of the poem

Then on New Year’s day, I heard a quick segment on Morning Edition about some creative ways Americans dispose of Christmas trees after the holidays. My thoughts turned immediately to that little tree, after Christmas.

Little Tree, After Christmas
(inspired by E.E. Cummings’ Little Tree)

little tree
little silent Christmas tree
your tired arms are drooping
no rings adorn your fingers now
and the shiny spangles have returned to sleep
in the dark box in the attic
and in the parlor your needles drop softly
upon the wooden floor

come little tree
tired little Christmas tree
now that you’re quite undressed
come and rest along a lazy winding river
and hug the earth tightly to its banks
or sink into its flowing waters
and open your little arms to welcome the nibbling fish
or perhaps lie in the dunes near the churning ocean
and fill your fingers with grains of sand and specks of shell
to stop the tolls of wind and tide

come little tree
little giving tree
oh, but you’ll be very proud

M. Hogan (c) 2017

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the wonderful and talented Catherine Flynn at her blog, Reading to the Core.

34 thoughts on “Little Tree, After Christmas

  1. margaretsmn says:

    Come little tree, little giving tree..I can imagine a song. Has this been put to music? I do love your little response for after Christmas. I took down the decorations days ago, so my forlorn tree is just waiting to be hauled to the curb. Hopefully a fisherman will pass by and pick it up to throw it in the marsh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Because we didn’t get our act together until late AND we were going to be out of town, we actually didn’t even put up a tree at home this year! We typically pull our tree into the woods and leave it to form a habitat for animals and eventually compost. I love imagining a fisherman throwing your tree into a marsh. (Oh–and there actually is a song composed for Little Tree–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyD9_afpVes.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How beautiful! We’ve always had artificial trees, since my father had allergies that were triggered by real trees. I was always so terribly disappointed not to have a real tree like in the movies, but at least now I can comfort myself that no trees had to die for my Christmas decorations. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lindabaie says:

    I do love Cummings poem and think it’s marvelous that you wrote a response, the “rest of its story”. Our trash service urges everyone to bring their trees to a certain spot where they’ll be turned into mulch which you can leave for others or bring home for your garden. I always thought it was a lovely end, and now your thoughts about the ‘lazy flowing rivier’ or “in the dunes near the churning ocean” make me smile about this other “ending”. Thanks, Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Linda, I agree that mulching is a much preferred ending to a land fill! The segment I heard mentioned that NYC mulches trees for its city parks. But somehow I couldn’t bring myself to mention that possibility to Little Tree! –And lift your little arms as into the whirling blades you go! Yikes! lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like you I hadn’t come across cumming’s poem until it was shared before Christmas. But I loved it instantly – and now I love your response too. In fat, your response has made me love the first even more, because somehow the two halves makes a more satisfying whole.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Got to say I like the mbh over the eec. Heiress apparent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your response to Cummings’s poem, Molly! How clever of you to imagine how the poor tree feels after weeks holding up “shiny spangles.” It certainly deserves its rest! Because of our construction, we didn’t have a tree this year either. In the past, though, we’ve always hauled it to the woods to be reclaimed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I heard that story, too, and wonder what the future might hold for our tree when it comes down tomorrow. Trees are piling up behind the Boys and Girls Club, where the town will come to pick them up soon. Perhaps our “little giving tree” will continue to give for a bit longer, just outdoors somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your response to little tree. There are so many ways those trees can continue to contribute after Christmas. We have an artificial tree (I put my foot down the year the live tree fell over at least weekly), but I would love to have a discarded tree to put in with my chickens for the winter. They would enjoy it almost as much as those fish!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I never even thought of giving my chickens a tree. I’ll have to keep that in mind for next year. The segment I listened to also mentioned that farmers in Vermont give trees to their goats to eat. So many possibilities!

      Like

  9. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, i like your own poem fashioned after cumming’s mentor text, especially the 2nd stanza. My decorations are still up because we wait for Little Christmas to be over. Visualizing the little tree opening its arms is such a welcoming sight.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Molly, you have used the inspiration of Cummings poem to inspire your own ,innovating on the subject and the structure of the original. In doing so you have drawn attention to those post Christmas rituals and the dimming of the light that so encapsulates the ceremonial tree. I particularly enjoyed your lines:
    ‘…your tired arms are drooping
    no rings adorn your fingers now
    and the shiny spangles have returned to sleep
    in the dark box in the attic…’
    Thank you for reminding me of rituals and their importance in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Alan. I missed experiencing most of the rituals of Christmas this past year as we were out of the town for the holiday and my oven was out of commission for a number of weeks beforehand. So many of my important holiday traditions revolve around food! And now I’m considering the meanings of the words ritual and tradition…

      Like

  11. Leigh Anne Eck says:

    Reading this sure makes me miss the days when we had a real tree. We live on a river, and we would take ours to the wash-out for wildlife to occupy – exactly how you wrote it! Perfect complement to Cummings’ poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Somehow your post reminded me how, back in the days when we made gingerbread houses, we used to take the stale gingerbread houses out for the wildlife to enjoy as well. I’m beginning to create a picture of an after-Christmas party in the woods!

      Like

  12. What a lovely thought that the little giving tree will have a long life in a dune. Perhaps plovers will perch on its bobbing fingers.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. haitiruth says:

    Nice! Thanks for continuing the story of the little tree. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  14. maryleehahn says:

    You have made the story of Little Tree complete!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Tabatha says:

    I love your after-Christmas response to e.e.cummings’ poem, and the idea of a post-holiday party in the woods is perfectly charming! I hope you write it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Lovely counter-poem to E. E. Cummings’ Molly. Both your poem and Cuming’s leave me with a little sigh, for the little tree. I like Brenda’s idea that a plover may come and nest on it, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Two touching tributes to this year’s Christmas trees! Ours will be coming down in the next day two, alas.

    Liked by 1 person

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