Filed under: English
‘Neglect’ is a poem written by R. T Smith about his apple tree that he neglected. The author is presumably a farmer. It grew Red Delicious apples (a type of apple) and provided with shade, pretty blossoms in the spring, tarts, cider and bees dazzling by the pollen. This apple tree had been living with the farmer for 20 years. Obviously Smith was very attached to the tree.
Recently, the farmer bought pear saplings (baby pear trees) and gradually, the author turned his attention away from the apple tree to the pear trees. This sets a mood to the poem and myself as a reader feels sorry for the apple tree, even though it is not a person or an animal. The farmer did not cut off the dead branches for winter, and the sap clogged up the systems inside the tree. The farmer was too occupied by the pear saplings. Soon, the apple tree grew ill of disease and soon passed away.
The Red Delicious Apple tree was no use to the farmer anymore and he used the apple wood as fire wood. Now, he sits inside, smelling the apple wood burning into ashes and regretting what he had done to the tree. He remembers the good times he had with it and how beautiful if was. For now, he will sit, with his heart full of sorrow. “Watched each branch with a Goshawks’s eye,” is a metaphor that expresses the farmers guilt and builds on the theme. Almost to the end of the poem, on the sixth and seventh stanzas, Smith starts to think about the times he had with the tree and what it gave him, which shows the growth of guilt and sadness
I think that the deeper meaning of this poem is not only directed to trees, but to people. For example, my grandmother provides me with life, money, Christmas presents and love. If she died, then I could only imagine what I had lost. Like they say, “you don’t know what you’ve lost, until it’s gone.” My opinion of this message is very important because it can relate to so many issues that we have in the world today. For example, pollution. I don’t think that many human beings have a great respect for our environment, our home. If we trash the world, then nobody can live with out it.
Smith seems very passionate about this subject and writes a poem about the topic, using a Red Delicious Apple tree as an example instead of human beings etc. If you use different examples instead of apple trees, you start to see what the author is trying to convey.
Is the scent of apple boughs smoking
in the woodstove what I will remember
of the Red Delicious I brought down, ashamed
that I could not convince its limbs to render fruit?
Too much neglect will do that, skew the sap’s
passage, blacken leaves, dry the bark and heart.
I should have lopped the dead limbs early
and watched each branch with a goshawk’s eye,
patching with medicinal pitch, offering water,
compost and mulch, but I was too enchanted
by pear saplings, flowers and the pasture,
too callow to believe that death’s inevitable
for any living being unloved, untended.
What remains is this armload of applewood
now feeding the stove’s smolder. Splendor
ripens a final time in the firebox, a scarlet
harvest headed, by dawn, to embers.
Two decades of shade and blossoms – tarts
and cider, bees dazzled by the pollen,
spare elegance in ice – but what goes is gone.
Smoke is all, through this lesson in winter
regret, I’ve been given to remember.
Smoke, and Red Delicious apples redder
than a passing cardinal’s crest or cinders.
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