The Sky of the Sky of a Tree Called Life

May 5th

Sweet spring

I read a book the other day that finished with an ee cummings poem. I’ve never read or studied poetry with any great interest, but something about his words grabbed me. Yesterday I picked up several copies of his poetry and spent my lunch break inhaling his descriptions of the emotional waves of life. A few that made me smile and think:

“maggie and milly and molly and may”

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

Celebrating spring


If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a lie warn’t a lie,
Life would be delight,–
But things couldn’t go right
For in such a sad plight
I wouldn’t be I.

If earth was heaven and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I’d be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn’t be you.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
Things would seem fair,–
Yet they’d all despair,
For if here was there
We wouldn’t be we.


“i carry your heart with me”

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

“it may not always be so;and i say”

it may not always be so;and i say
that if your lips,which i have loved,should touch
another’s,and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart,as mine in time not fara away;
if on another’s face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know,or such
great writhing words as,uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be,i say if this should be–
you of my heart,send me a little word;
that i may go unto him,and take his hands,
saying,Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face,and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands

I listened to another “Speaking of Faith” podcast this weekend — discussing Rumi’s poetry in the 13th Century and how he expressed his faith in ways people had never considered. I’ve always been a bit intimidated by poetry, afraid I was missing the great point. But with words like these, I get the feeling that the meaning changes with each reader. I wish I’d had the chance to hear ee read some of these aloud, to understand what fueled his passion.


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13 Responses

  1. “here is the deepest secret nobody knows
    (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
    and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
    higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
    and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart”

    LOVE this …

    Also, I will try the “Speaking of Faith” podcasts … always looking for good podcasts!

  2. Thank you for sharing these. I rarely read poetry too and these were lovely.

  3. Linda May 5, 2009

    I have only known of Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” which has always been my favourite. I must say I like this one too.

  4. Rebecca May 5, 2009

    “i carry your heart with me” was read at my wedding. Not that I would expect you to remember after all the booze, but it was read. . . . 😉

  5. Debbie May 5, 2009

    I used to feel intimidated by poetry because I thought I should understand poems in the way my teachers wanted them to be understood. I have grown to enjoy poetry and I’ve grown confident in my own thoughts and feelings about certain poems. How did you like Rumi?

  6. Hello, Darlin’! Thank you for this little bit of loveliness after a very long day at work. I am not a poetry reader, per se, but after hearing one of the most breathtaking poems ever on Fresh Air one night on the way home from work, I fell in love with one particular poet. I encourage you to google “The Night House” and “Osso Buco” by Billy Collins (which, oddly enough, is my dad’s name…no relation that I’m aware of, though). I used to own three of his books (which I’ve lent to be lent to be lent, I think–LOL). His words are tasty little morsels for the soul…

  7. I grew up by the sea, and used to recite “maggie and milly and molly and may” while walking the beach collecting shells.
    If you like these, I think you’ll find Rumi, and also Hafiz, accessible!

  8. Was the book In Her Shoes?! I love that poem at the end!!! Beautiful photos BTW!!!

  9. I couldn’t resist commenting after reading the poems. I am a huge fan of e.e.cummings. His poetry is just so straight forward and simple in the most beautiful way. You should search around for old recordings of him reading his poetry. There a great children’s book called “Poetry Speaks to children” which comes with a CD that has recordings of the poets reading their work. It’s just mesmerizing to listen to and ee cummings is on that cd.

    Also check out Billy Collins

    that’s one of my favorites of his.

  10. I have always loved poetry – both reading and writing it. I was lucky to have a teacher early on who felt passionately, not clinically, about poetry and was able to help me to love poetry without worrying that my interpretation was “right”. ee cummings is one of my all time favorite poets and I’m glad that you’ve found him.

    I think that you would also really enjoy Pablo Neruda. This poem, one of his Sonnets, was read at my wedding (Mike and I were married in Lake Tahoe, on a small cliff overlooking Emerald Bay. There were 16 people in attendance, including us):

    Sonnet LXXXI

    And now you’re mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
    Love and pain and work should all sleep, now.
    The night turns on its invisible wheels,
    and you are pure beside me as a sleeping amber.

    No one else, Love, will sleep in my dreams. You will go,
    we will go together, over the waters of time.
    No one else will travel through the shadows with me,
    only you, evergreen, ever sun, ever moon.

    Your hands have already opened their delicate fists
    and let their soft drifting signs drop away; your eyes closed like two gray wings, and I move

    after, following the folding water you carry, that carries
    me away. The night, the world, the wind spin out their destiny.
    Without you, I am your dream, only that, and that is all.

    Pablo Neruda

  11. Okay, love love love those purple flower photos! Beautiful! Very spring!

  12. I love e.e. cummings. My favourite has to be r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r.

  13. not that I read a lot of poetry, because I certainly do not, but I like ee cummings quite a bit. My favorite is “I like your body.” It’s very sexy, but in a very fun way.