Poetry Friday: "[little tree]" by E.E. Cummings
On this frightful winter's Friday, with arctic winds blasting us with bitter cold, we hope E. E. Cummings’ poem “[little tree]” helps to bring a sweet feeling of holiday warmth.
First published in 1920, Cummings' affection for “[little tree]” lasted a lifetime: he had it printed and sent it as his family Christmas card in 1960, two years before he died.
A bookish Christmas tree created by Julie Phillips of Niskayuna. (Photo: Michael Huber)
By E.E. Cummings
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
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
First published in The Dial (January, 1920), public domain
Puget Soundworks performs [little tree]" during their inaugural holiday show, "Snowflakes," at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Seattle on December 1, 2018. Music by Eric Lane Barnes.
Edward Estlin Cummings (1894-1962) was one of the twentieth century's most inventive and influential poets. Cummings rewrote grammatical and linguistic conventions to suit his own needs and experimented with poetry form and language to develop his own particular style.
He is known for his extroverted use of language, which often includes non-standard words and phrases, such sentences that seem incomplete or lacking in punctuation, and for-in statements that appear within poems. His work has been cited as an influence by many other poets, including Allen Ginsberg and Charles Olson.
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