Sunday, October 16, 2016

Poem in my Post: The Camperdown Elm by Marianne Moore

Poem in my Post
The Camperdown Elm by Marianne Moore.

I chose this poem today because I am in love with trees. I live in the woods on a lot in St. Paul. It is rare to find an urban area where there are a lot of trees anymore.  It seems one is lucky if they have only one tree in their yard. So if trees are currency, then I am rich with trees, too many to count.  I am surrounded by Pine, Elm, Cottonwood, Crabapple, Sugar Maple and Oak.  I do not have an Camperdown Elm in the woods here but I am drawn to this poem and poet because she saved a Camperdown Elm tree with her poem that was in danger of dying of neglect in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.  She wrote her ode and it mobilized a community to care for trees in the park.
This poem was written in 1967.

The Camperdown Elm by Marianne Moore

I think, in connection with this weeping elm,
of “Kindred Spirits” at the edge of a rockledge
overlooking a stream:
Thanatopsis-invoking tree-loving Bryant
conversing with Thomas Cole
in Asher Durand’s painting of them
under the filigree of an elm overhead.
No doubt they had seen other trees—lindens,
maples and sycamores, oaks and the Paris
street-tree, the horse-chestnut; but imagine
their rapture, had they come on the Camperdown elm’s
massiveness and “the intricate pattern of its branches,”
arching high, curving low, in its mist of fine twigs.
The Bartlett tree-cavity specialist saw it
and thrust his arm the whole length of the hollowness
of its torso and there were six small cavities also.
Props are needed and tree-food. It is still leafing;
still there. Mortal though. We must save it. It is
our crowning curio.
— Marianne Moore

Here is an article from Brain Pickings about how this poem by Marianne Moore saved one of the world's rarest trees.  You just need to read it.  No doubt about it.

Read more of her poetry here at