9 8 2014 lone tree gettysburg 5

To the Lone Tree at Gettysburg   

are a black flame   
burning into the heavens –    
your thirsty roots   
into the blood-corrupted Earth –    
your leaves   
whispering their witness   
to death-bed confessions   
shrieked into the dirt –    
are flying buttresses   
in a wide-open   
cathedral –   
are a hired mourner   
for the faceless dead –   
and when   
the misguided squirrel   
buried you in this cursed land   
you chose to thrive   
where others would have   

The Nerudan Ode is very unlike the traditional “Ode”. It was written by the Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda (1904-1973). The subject may be an “everyday” item which has been lifted from the noble to the inspiring. There is no specific line length, meter, rhyme, or repetition. The only real “rules” seem to be 1) that the author use very short lines, and 2) that the author use rich, “concrete” imagery.

Visit “Pink Moon” to learn more about the form.


28 thoughts on “To the Lone Tree at Gettysburg (Nerudan Ode)

  1. Now this genuinely is out of character for you! And very fine it is, too 🙂 For me, the following section is particularly wonderful –

    are flying buttresses
    in a wide-open

    The expansiveness of the image lets in a little light in an otherwise sombre poem.


  2. Good for Cherl … this is such a moving poem. I’ve read Neruda’s work in Italian and from what I read here I should try him in English as well. The poem could have standed alone without a photo. Loved the ending … in fact loved the whole poem. Jen, I think you should be writing “western” poetry more often.


    • Oh, I would be honored — really I would! Thank you very much.

      In case anyone wants to know, the tree is located directly across from McPherson’s Barn – a well-known spot at the Gettysburg Battlefield.

      I’m so glad you liked this — after writing in 5/7/5 for so long it felt a bit like jumping without a parachute! 🙂


        • Thanks for the reblog – and for adding the extra info – again, I’m honored.
          It was kind of nice in a weird way; the Nerudan Ode is almost like free-verse — a person could get used to it and like it, LOL! 🙂
          BTW — you did great on the interview too.


        • Thanks, it is the FIRST time I listen to a tape…I usually am afraid to hate ME so much that I will be nervous to do it again, but I thought it was pretty good…there were silences a bit but that was the interviewer seemed shy face to face…most interviews are on the phone but I liked going there…hope they invite me again.


        • Whatever silences you heard — I really didn’t notice them. Did a few interviews with the nonprofit I was with a long time ago — and they were *much* more noticeable than that. You notice them much more because you were there but the average listener won’t hear that at all. 🙂


        • You are right but I could tell I was trying to fill in space…not too sure what he wanted…realized he reads all his scripts…so next time, I am just gonna look at my notes…from memory there is too much as I have worked there 14 yrs and I don`t want to just say jibberish…haha.


        • yes, I dont get many since I moved to Quebec…in Toronto I did radio, tv (which I hated) and the press…here only if they are stuck…cos most are in French…Toronto folks can usually handle the English requests. I do miss that but I can`t complain, I did a lot of classroom interviews for 4 months…I want to keep that more…it influencs kids to call.


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