Reading to Trees

You will have to trust me on this:  Thinking about reading to a tree feels stranger than actually reading to a tree, especially once you get going.  The other day I walked to the wooded park near my home with a particular aspen in mind and a book in my pocket.  What does one read to an aspen?  Though I am sure there are many possibilities, the answer on this day for this tree was obvious. Keats.

If you read aloud to a tree, you will find yourself in the company of an uncommonly attentive, responsive, possibly even grateful listener.  And is the tree’s response (a singular stillness, a branching rustle, the dropping of golden leaves after a particular line, Thou art a dreaming thing, A fever of thyself…as if to whisper, Yes, yes…) real or imagined?  I know how I would reply to this question, but I am not at all certain that it matters.  We are always, and everywhere, part of a great conversation.


(Thanks to Flickr user rickhanger.)


  1. Matilda

    Lovely, lovely idea. There aren’t many things as comforting as hugging a tree and I can imagine reading to it will be a similar experience. I imagine they will love G. Manley Hopkins!

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  4. I love this idea. Having spent a good time talking to, hugging and playing the flute for trees, I see this as a great addition. So on my walk this afternoon I grabbed my book of Robert Frost poetry and made a stop at the pair of Birch trees near the Log House Museum. I found the poem Birches to be well received. Lots of leaf rustling. Then the poem October was read to the heritage willow up on the hill. The reading was a little breathy due to climbing said hill, but it too was well received. The crows seemed to perk up near by at the line concerning crows, as well. ; )

  5. Irene

    I have hugged a tree, sat in a tree, sat under a tree, sang with a tree, but never read to a tree.
    Today we bought a new tree that we plan to plant in a day or two . Maybe I should read to it to insure it lives a long and happy life in our yard.
    Couldn’t hurt.

  6. Wonderful article. We have a very large mango tree in our backyard. It is old and no longer bears fruit. Someone recently suggested that I cut it down. I strongly disagreed with this as the tree has presence. I often quietly sit in the cool shade of the tree on a hot day and listen to leaves rustling in the wind. And I wonder what the tree may be saying.

  7. Kimi

    Hi Lyanda,

    I’ve trying to figure out how to email you. We met about a year about at a Seattle Tilth event. Any, I am taking a writing class at the UW and will be doing an article on crows. I would LOVE to be able to interview you. Would that be possible? Please let me know.
    Thank you!

  8. I love this. I am a Recreational Tree Climber and I love to write poems to trees, they are my inspiration. I also work with and GOTC, Global Organization of Tree Climbers and will love to talk more about it. We teach how to climb trees with arborist ropes and harnesses, utilizing time-tested, safe techniques. It is a great activity for kids 7 and up and adults. Let me know if you are interested in knowing more about this. Regards and thanks again.

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