The Lovely Accident of Relationship

Some Trees

"These are amazing: each 
Joining a neighbor, as though speech 
Were a still performance. 
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning 
From the world as agreeing 
With it, you and I 
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are: 
That their merely being there 
Means something; that soon 
We may touch, love, explain."

from Some Trees, John Ashbery

Al Filreis: "I think this poem is a love poem, but I also think it's a poem about a higher order than love, if that's possible, which is relation. Meaning is made by relation, meaning never happens in isolation. One needs juxtaposition. Here you have the juxtaposition of these two people who don't really know each other, who are arranged by chance to meet. Standing under a model for accidental relationship. And the trees are saying, "All you need to do is be here." It's not a nature poem. It could read as a nature poem. This poem has been read at weddings for instance, about relationship. About the accident, the lovely accident of relationship. But it's going further. Merely being there means something. Meaning can get generated by accidental relationship. If there is any kind of message that post-modern poetry is giving to us in this course and in general, it is right there. Meaning is created by juxtaposition, and juxtaposition is accidental, but don't think of it as inhuman, think of it as actually quite natural. The world is, prior to meaning, we derive meaning from the accidental relationships." (from the video discussion of the poem in Modern & Contemporary American Poetry)


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