by Theodore Roethke
Negative tree, you are belief
Engendered by an iron grief,
A variously compounded fact
Denied the favor of swift act.
With terrible precision, you
Can split an aging rock in two;
Yet in your dumb profusion there
Is quiet, positive and clear.
You are a timeless sorrow thrust
Beyond the dreamlessness of dust.
You are a bird, securely bound,
That sings the song of voiceless ground,
And builds a nest in sterile stone,
Yet breeds no kin of flesh and bone.
You are a bird denied, the blood
Of earth in flying attitude.
Note: A recitation can be heard here.
- Mark Olival-Bartley
- Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.