I keep getting this poet’s name confused in my head with Edwin Arlington Robinson. Richard Aldington–Arlington Robinson, I suppose there is similarity there, especially since it seems Richard Aldington’s middle name just happens to be Edward. But I think the confusion also comes from having read a poem by Robinson back in April here on the Dad Poet, called “Another Dark Lady.” That one was about beech trees, and beech trees show up in the end of this poem, though you might confuse it with “beaches” if you are just listening and not reading the words yourself.
Robert Frost wrote about Christmas trees, and apple trees. He wrote “a young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.” He also wrote about “Birches.” He wrote, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.” The woods are called woods because they have trees. Poets like trees.
Wordsworth wrote about “Yew-Trees;” Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote of “City Trees.” Joyce Kilmer never saw a poem lovelier than a tree. I read another poem back in April by contemporary poet, Tony Hoagland, “The Color of the Sky,” in which he said that the trees were tossing about “in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.” Poets really like trees.
Sure we like paper clips, and baseball and flowers too. But baseball bats are made from trees. Paper clips hold paper which, you guessed it, is made from trees. And even in poems about flowers, can’t you just see yourself looking up from the lily of the field to what borders the field, what in fact make the field a field, that row of trees, the forest just a short jaunt away?
This week’s poet for John’s “Reading Out Loud Project” is so fascinated by one tree in particular, a Poplar, that he imagines it uprooting itself to go walking, “behind the wagoners” along the path. Poplars, Birches, Beeches, Willows, poets seem to really be turned on by trees. Why is that? Feel free to speculate in the comments, or remind us of other tree poems that maybe you didn’t find in the links above.
Here’s the lowdown on how this project of John’s works:
What I propose is this: a weekly poem, and a variety of readings. I’ll post the poem each Friday (along with my reading), and, sometime during the following week, I ask you to make your own reading, and submit it to me. You can do an audio recording, upload it somewhere (i.e. Soundcloud, or to your own blog’s Media Library — if you have the upgrade). Or, if you’re so inclined, you can make a video of your reading — with, or without your lovely face being in the video, and upload it to YouTube, and then send me the link (You can leave the links in the comment section — or, email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
And there you have it. To hear John’s reading, after recording your own, which you should also do before you listen to mine (so as not to be influenced by the way we hear it), go to Poetically Versed, and leave your the link to your recording in the comments there, or email him as he suggested. I think you’ll find yourself enjoying John’s refreshing style of discussing poetry. Nothing stuffy or pretentious about John’s poetry blog, hence it’s one of my absolute favorites.
So now for my recording for this week:
By the way that’s little Mark Twain on the left side of your screen, helping me read this poem. According to The Autobiography of Mark Twain, by Charles Neider, Richard Aldington criticized Mark Twain as “not being very funny, or much of a writer.” And so Twain, I believe, is keeping a critical eye on Aldington here. Okay, seriously, I confess. It was just chance. My friend Rick, a huge library buff bought me that little Twain pillow at his recent library benefit sale. I kind of like it, but I can’t seem to tie it in with the tree theme.
by Richard Aldington
Why do you always stand there shivering
Between the white stream and the road?
The people pass through the dust
On bicycles, in carts, in motor-cars;
The waggoners go by at dawn;
The lovers walk on the grass path at night.
Stir from your roots, walk, poplar!
You are more beautiful than they are.
I know that the white wind loves you,
Is always kissing you and turning up
The white lining of your green petticoat.
The sky darts through you like blue rain,
And the grey rain drips on your flanks
And loves you.
And I have seen the moon
Slip his silver penny into your pocket
As you straightened your hair;
And the white mist curling and hesitating
Like a bashful lover about your knees.
I know you, poplar;
I have watched you since I was ten.
But if you had a little real love,
A little strength,
You would leave your nonchalant idle lovers
And go walking down the white road
Behind the waggoners.
There are beautiful beeches
Down beyond the hill.
Will you always stand there shivering?
- Weekly Reading Out Loud Project: Richard Aldington (poeticallyversed.com)
- Richard (Edward) Aldington and the Unknown Warrior (doverhistorian.wordpress.com)
- Say the word: London’s performance poetry scene (onefinestay.com)
- Lovely poems and lovely trees in St. Paul (tcdailyplanet.net)