"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Broke-Trunk Trees (and Other Tree Chunks)

Broke-Trunk Trees (and Other Tree Chunks)

From “My Broken Tree” in My Great Oak Tree and Other Poems  by Liberty Hyde Bailey:

Over my cliff is a maple tree
That always delights my heart to see.

In some stormy day its smooth bole fell
And now lies prone where it started well.

Its trunk is scarred, and with branchlets weak
That struggle still to the light they seek.

But straight to the blue its new limbs rise
And spread their leaves to the rains and skies.

One would not know from the verdant crown
That winds had beaten the old trunk down.

Its neighbors stern in the forest grim
Stand stiff and strict and all churchly prim.

But its branches spread more wide than they
And fling their fruits to the winds away.

And panellings fine its bole will make
When the artist comes his part to take.

Over my cliff is a broken tree
That it always cheers my heart to see.


I have on several earlier posts quoted (click here!) from Liberty Hyde Bailey’s botanical work The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (which is so big I call it a “cyclopspedia”) — but had somehow missed the fact that Bailey was also a poet and published several books of poetry in the olden days. So I was pleased to come across his poem about a broken tree to go with the photos below: the poem seemed to mirror my brief obsession with photographing these damaged trees.

The first nine photos below feature the broken-trunk trees I came across in early winter — two that had likely split during last summer’s August thunderstorms; and one that must have come down during autumn’s similarly stormulous days, given that the leaves had switched on their fall shades before the tree came down. The color contrasts caught my eye — the dark fallen branches against red and orange groundcover, and the orange leaves against the pebblestone walkway. The first ones almost look like the tree dropped a section to rake up the leaves. I didn’t actually catch them raking leaves, to be honest — but maybe they only do that when no one’s watching.

Thanks for taking a look!

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