A Poem Lovely as a Tree
The gramophone was switched on, 12-inches of vinyl placed on it, and the needle balanced on the disc, in order for us to hear the music. This was my mother’s favorite record, featuring the deep, gravelly bass voice of Paul Robeson, singing a song called “Trees”.
My mother loved trees, and so do I. They are, of course, plants. But the scale of a tree is usually magnificent. Not every tree is on the scale of the Giant Redwoods in California, but even the trees in your backyard are big objects. Some trees can get to be very old. I remember that the first time I saw the Major Oak in England’s Sherwood Forest, I was, and still am, awestruck by its age of a thousand years. According to legend, it provided shelter for Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and is certainly old enough to have done so.
Robeson’s song begins: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” The last lines of the song put this thought into perspective. “For poems are made by fools like me. But only God can make a tree”. Believers, like the psalmist in Psalm 96, ascribe glory to God for these wonderful objects – “the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord”. Genesis 1 tells us that God made these beautiful plants to produce seed after their kind. They are part of the glorious world that God has made, and we give thanks to Him for His Creative work in producing things like trees.