Elegy for five tree stumps

“Elegy is a form of poetry natural to the reflective mind. It may treat of any subject, but it must treat of no subject for itself; but always and exclusively with reference to the poet. As he will feel regret for the past or desire for the future, so sorrow and love became the principal themes of the elegy. Elegy presents every thing as lost and gone or absent and future.”
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Elegy for Five Tree Stumps*

Today my landscape was reshaped
Razed
Rendered flat

Men came with machines

image

And marred my outland view

But then, I spoke with them
(The men, not the stumps)

“Are you…?”
“Why are you…?”
I asked

“We are,”
Was the reply
“To make way for something new.”

How many times had I done such things myself?
Destroyed the old to make way for something new?
Too many to count

And yet…

To see them today,
Their roots all torn asunder
(The stumps, not the men)
I felt such sharp pain
That I wanted to shout “Stop!”

But I did not.
For I thought,
“Who am I to stand
in the way of change?”

I know better,
For I have been:

The stump
The roots
The machine
The driver
The dirt
The field
The observer
The one who gave the order

Haven’t we all?

*Though it is likely obvious from the (ahem) level of quality or lack thereof, the quote is Coleridge’s, and the tree stump elegy is mine. It’s my first ever elegy, so please: be kind. Or better yet, compose your own, and together we’ll elevate the elegy as an art form. Or we could just rule the galaxy (as father and son, as mother and daughter, as brother and sister, as friends…whatever). Which is a heck of a lot easier than writing about it.

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