Ezra Pound Response:
“The Tree” by Ezra Pound is about how Pound identifies with the tree-like state in which the nymph, Daphne, of Greek myth finds herself in order to escape Apollo. Pound begins the poem explaining how he was a “tree amid the wood” meaning a changed being amid a familiar yet under-perceived environment. He likens this form to the myth of Apollo who chases Daphne until she asks the god, Peneus, to change her into a tree. Even though she is transformed into a “laurel”, which happens to be the Greek word for Daphne, Apollo is still able to recognize her by the inner-beauty of the tree before him. He then claims the tree as his own, just as he would if Daphne was still in her nymph body. Only then, does Daphne understand that it was not her physical beauty that Apollo was chasing, but just her essence. In the poem’s last lines, Pound indicates an understanding that there are many things one cannot perceive unless an inner stillness is achieved. He uses a tree as his metaphor, because it is a living thing whose nature gives it the ability to absorb feelings that perhaps does not come as naturally to busy, complicated humans. “Nathless I have been a tree amid the wood and many a new thing understood that was rank folly to my head before.” The tree metaphor may also represent knowledge, just as it did in the bible’s as the tree of knowledge. “Knowing the truth of things unseen before,” Pound states just as Adam and Eve understood things they did not know before after they ate an apple from the tree of knowledge. Only then did they comprehend the bigger picture, so to speak. The title of the poem, “The Tree”, does not tell the reader much about what the poem could be about other than a tree. When I first looked at the title, I believed it to be about his devotion to trees. Ezra Pound seems to have a love for nature, or at least a connection to it because he references nature in many of his other poems.