Poetry Sunday: Bare Tree by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Occasionally I will find a poem that just stops me right in my tracks. It can seem as though the poet was addressing me directly. 

The first sentence of this poem, "Already I have shed the leaves of youth, stripped by the wind of time down to the truth of winter branches" caught me. I thought, yes, that's me; no leafy branches to hide me anymore. And after exploring the imagery of the bare branches, the poet delivers her final line: "Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone, so fragile and so fearless have I grown!"  

Anne Morrow Lindbergh definitely knew a thing or two about the experience of being an old woman.  

Bare Tree

by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Already I have shed the leaves of youth,
stripped by the wind of time down to the truth
of winter branches. Linear and alone
I stand, a lens for lives beyond my own,
a frame through which another's fire may glow,
a harp on which another's passion, blow.

The pattern of my boughs, an open chart
spread on the sky, to others may impart
its leafless mysteries that I once prized,
before bare roots and branches equalized,
tendrils that tap the rain or twigs the sun
are all the same, shadow and substance one.
Now that my vulnerable leaves are cast aside,
there's nothing left to shield, nothing to hide.

Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
so fragile and so fearless have I grown!

Comments

  1. It applies equally to men, Dorothy. It really gets to the essence of getting old, and I am there!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I probably should have said that she knew a thing or two about the experience of being old. It's a time when we are in some ways more fragile but also more fearless because many of the worries of our younger years no longer concern us.

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  2. a lot of truth, there, he said as he approached his 79th year, tentatively, lol...

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    Replies
    1. I find that birthdays are best approached tentatively at this time of life.

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  3. This is an amazing poem. I've read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's diaries, and her book Gift From the Sea (which I adore), but never any of her poetry.

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    Replies
    1. It's not really what she is best known for, but she did write some pretty good poetry.

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    2. In my youth, I never imagined what getting old would be like. 20, 30, 40 years ago I would have read this poem and shaken my head. Now, I know and feel its truth.

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    3. I think old age is something that has to be personally experienced in order to have an understanding of it.

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  4. I feel this and I'm not even 30 yet.

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