Seeing the World Through a Walnut




Old friend now there is no one alive
who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago
with the dry grass whispering in your shade
and already you had lived through wars
and echoes of wars around your silence
through days of parting and seasons of absence
with the house emptying as the years went their way
until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer

you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers
of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened
you and the seasons spoke the same language
and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night
and you were the way I saw the world
~W.S. Merwin from “Elegy for a Walnut”




This grand old tree defines the seasons for me~
and defines me as I age.
This winter’s storms took its branches down in the night
with deafening cracks so loud
I feared to see the remnant in the morning,
yet it stands, intrepid
for another round of seasons–
tired, sagging, broken
and still reaching to the sky.





5 thoughts on “Seeing the World Through a Walnut

  1. Thank you so much for sharing “Elegy for a Walnut” I have been wracking my brain as to what to give my ninety year old mother for Mother’s Day. A copy of this poem is perfect as she and my Dad collected acorns for years, planted them in gallon containers and delivered them to friends for their yards. Oak trees they dreamed of are now growing all over California and Colorado. This will be a perfect remembrance for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Gosh…My life is defined these days by the Old Maple Tree right outside my dining room window….Thank you for seeing life and God through the many expressions of HIS creative ways through nature….Your posts are like music to my soul!!


  3. How appropriate. Today, May 8th, Eli’s son came out to disc the almond/walnut orchard. It hasn’t been 6 months since dear Eli passed, but the trees need the annual tending. It as bittersweet to hear the sound of the TD9 as it came to life…to see his son sitting where Eli was so comfortable working the soil where he hand planted the 2,000 trees 40+ years ago. So as Mark drove down the first row, I video’d the sight of the earth turning over, recording the sweet sound of the tractor with it’s letting me know all is well. Thank you God for wrapping your arms around my heart as it beats with filled with love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Merwin is 90 this year, still writing and publishing. Although I’m sure it wasn’t his intent when composing this fine poem, he is now “old friend” personified. Life imitating art imitating life!


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