Trinity University Press

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Unchopping a Tree

W. S. Merwin (author), Liz Ward (illustrations)

An intimate, beautifully illustrated gift edition of poet laureate W. S. Merwin's wondrous story about how to resurrect a fallen tree.

There’s no mystery to chopping down a tree. But how do you put back together a tree that’s been felled? Mystical instructions are required, and that’s what W. S. Merwin provides in this prose piece. Written with a poet’s grace, an ecologist’s insights, and a Buddhist’s reverence for life, this elegant work describes the difficult, sacred job of reconstructing a tree. Step by step, page by page, with Merwin’s humble authority, secrets are revealed and the destroyed tree rises from the forest floor. Interspersed throughout this inviting, gift-sized edition are Liz Ward’s eleven delicate silverpoint drawings depicting the cellular life of trees. 


“In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time’s passing, Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page; he has made for himself that most difficult of creations, an accomplished style.”


“The intentions of Merwin’s poetry are as broad as the biosphere yet as intimate as a whisper. He conveys in the sweet simplicity of grounded language a sense of the self where it belongs, floating between heaven, earth, and the underground.”

Atlantic Monthly

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Unchopping a Tree cover
  • Price: $14.95 buy »
  • Pages: 48
  • Size: 7 x 7
  • Published: Mar 2014
  • Status: Available
  • ISBN: 9781595341877


Nature, Poetry, Essays