Bioethics Discussion Blog: More on Immortality

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

More on Immortality

Joyce Kilmer has humanized trees in this well known poem “Trees”

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 aft 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.


As I was hiking today through Towsley Canyon in Southern California, I came upon this tree clinging on to the rocky side of a mountain and I wondered if there was a common yearning between man and tree for longevity and/or immortality. Any thoughts? ..Maurice.

2 Comments:

At Monday, January 09, 2006 6:59:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

I wondered if there was a common yearning between man and tree for longevity and/or immortality. Any thoughts?

My thoughts are: was that a rhetorical question?

Since I'm fairly certain that you're not anthropomorphizing trees - even with quoting Kilmer's stirring poem - I have to wonder exactly what you are asking.

In front my ancient house, is one half of a very old hickory tree. When my husband's father was just a tiny boy, the hickory tree which had been there for generations before had been reduced by time to a dying old stump. From this stump grew flexible, firm shoots, which the children were loathe to ignore. They made fine bows, or whips ... or so very many entertaining things. This young fellow's mother finally "persuaded" him to stop cutting them down for use in his games with his brothers.

Two saplings grew, and as the seasons turned into years, became a very large double trunked tree, which provided shade for the house, and which scattered its hard, unbreakable fruit on the lawn every other year.

The little boy grew along with the tree, and became a strapping young man who fell in love with a beautiful young lady ... married, settled down, and had a son of his own. This little son, his namesake, played underneath the tree ... picked the nuts to be used in cookies. In time, he also grew into a fine, strong adult.

By now, the hickory tree was so large, that it covered the roof of the house, and had become a shelter from the storm for many tiny creatures.

The young namesake found a woman to love, and the cycle began all over again - all under the same tree.

And now we come full circle, and this latest young man's children have themselves become adults. One night, during a terrible storm, the 2nd namesake of the first little boy heard the tree come crashing down, shaking the ground in its final agony ... and taking with it the dreams and memories of 4 generations.

And then, less than a year ago, the first little boy followed the tree ... tired after a long life of bearing fruit for everyone in his shade.

Maurice, trees are no more immortal than little boys - but they're wiser than little boys. They "rejoice" in what they have, when they have it; they only ask for sunshine and rain ... and they hide any thoughts of immortality within the hearts of little saplings which are cut down to be used as a plaything by little boys.

And such is life.

.

 
At Monday, January 09, 2006 9:34:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof, a lovely story. I guess a tree such as you described lives on in memory, such as in your own memory and with your words pass its life on to others who have never seen the tree. And I guess that's how many of us will live on after we are gone, in memory and words to others. ..Maurice.

 

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