Unchopping a TreeAn intimate, beautifully illustrated gift edition of poet laureate W. S. Merwin's wondrous story about how to resurrect a fallen 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 ...
- Published: February 2014
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 elegant work describes the difficult, sacred job of reconstructing a tree. Step by step, page by page, with Merwin’s humble authority, secrets are revealed, and the destroyed tree rises from the forest floor. Unchopping a Tree opens with simplicity and grace: Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nest that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places.” W. S. Merwin, like many conservationists, is quick to say: When we destroy the so-called natural world around us we’re simply destroying ourselves. And I think it’s irreversible.” Thus the tree takes on a scale that begs the reader’s compassion, and one tree is a parable for the restoration of all nature.
"W. S. Merwin, the Pulitzer-winning former U.S. poet laureate, captures the essence of treeness in the delightful and insightful Unchopping a Tree... Lyrical drawings of the cellular structure of a tree by Liz Ward complement and enhance the humble beauty of Merwin's descriptions."Shelf Awareness
"Suppose you chopped down a tree and then regretted it because, after all, a tree is a beautiful thing in nature. What to do? Firewood? Board feet? Or, you might consider unchopping it by following the instructions of W. S. Merwin, a man of proven ecological insight and robust poetic tendencies, to put it back together, leaf by leaf, limb by limb, splinter by splinter."ForeWord Magazine
"Merwin is a dedicated environmentalist who has created a preserve for palm species near Haiku, and in his sparse prose he uses the image of raising a fallen tree as a device to explore themes of renewal and preservation."Honolulu Star-Advertiser
"Part prose poem, part ecology lesson and part Zen instruction manual, Unchopping a Tree shares a mystical blueprint for healing the planetthe intricate, often invisible web of biological lifethat our species so casually destroys. The book is made even more unique by artist Liz Ward’s contribution of 11 delicate drawings depicting the cellular life of trees."Cascadia Weekly
"This collection of pristine prose poems and delicately rendered art is surely a reminder that perhaps our wanton destruction of the planet can be reversed."Rain Taxi
“In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time’s passing, Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page; he has made for himself that most difficult of creations, an accomplished style.”— Orion
BR>“The intentions of Merwin’s poetry are as broad as the biosphere yet as intimate as a whisper. He conveys in the sweet simplicity of grounded language a sense of the self where it belongs, floating between heaven, earth, and the underground.”— Atlantic Monthly
BR>“Merwin is one of the great poets of our age.”— Los Angeles Times