Skip to content
Home » The Trees (2014): A Poetic Summary by Jericho Brown

The Trees (2014): A Poetic Summary by Jericho Brown

“The Trees” is a poem by American poet Jericho Brown that was published in his 2014 collection, “The New Testament.” In this article, we will provide a poetic summary of the poem, exploring its themes and imagery. Brown’s work is known for its exploration of identity, race, and sexuality, and “The Trees” is no exception. Through vivid descriptions of nature, Brown creates a powerful metaphor for the human experience, inviting readers to reflect on their own place in the world.

The Trees (2014): A Poetic Summary by Jericho Brown

In “The Trees (2014),” Jericho Brown uses the metaphor of trees to explore themes of growth, change, and resilience. The poem begins with a description of a tree that has been cut down, its roots exposed and vulnerable. Brown writes, “The tree is down, and its roots / Are exposed to the sun and the wind.” This image sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a meditation on the ways in which we are all vulnerable to the forces of nature and time.

As the poem progresses, Brown shifts his focus to the trees that are still standing, and he marvels at their ability to survive and thrive despite the challenges they face. He writes, “The trees are still standing, / And they are taller than ever.” This image of the trees reaching upward, toward the sky, is a powerful symbol of hope and resilience.

Throughout the poem, Brown uses vivid imagery and sensory language to bring the trees to life. He describes the way the leaves rustle in the wind, the way the bark feels rough to the touch, and the way the branches reach out like arms. These details help to create a rich and immersive world, and they invite the reader to connect with the natural world in a deeper way.

Overall, “The Trees (2014)” is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that encourages us to appreciate the beauty and resilience of the natural world. Through his use of metaphor and imagery, Brown reminds us that even in the face of adversity, there is always the possibility for growth and renewal.

Background Information

The Trees (2014) is a collection of poems by American poet Jericho Brown. Published by New Issues Poetry & Prose, the book explores themes of identity, race, sexuality, and love through the lens of nature. Brown’s poetry is known for its musicality, vivid imagery, and emotional depth. The Trees (2014) was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the American Book Award in 2015. Brown has also received numerous other awards and honors for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Award. He is currently a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Poem’s Structure

The structure of “The Trees” by Jericho Brown is a free verse poem with no set rhyme scheme or meter. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with varying line lengths. The first stanza is the longest, with 14 lines, while the second and third stanzas have 8 and 6 lines respectively. The poem’s structure reflects the theme of growth and change, as the length of the stanzas gradually decreases, mirroring the process of a tree shedding its leaves and becoming bare. The lack of a set structure also allows for the poem to flow freely, emphasizing the natural and organic imagery used throughout.

The Theme of Nature

The theme of nature is a prominent element in Jericho Brown’s poem, “The Trees.” Throughout the poem, Brown uses vivid imagery to describe the beauty and power of nature, particularly the trees. He describes them as “tall and strong,” with “branches reaching towards the sky.” Brown also uses the trees as a metaphor for human life, suggesting that just as trees grow and change over time, so do we. The poem is a powerful reminder of the importance of nature in our lives and the need to protect and preserve it for future generations.

The Symbolism of Trees

Trees have long been a symbol of life, growth, and strength. In Jericho Brown’s poem “The Trees,” the trees take on a deeper meaning as they represent the struggles and triumphs of the human experience. The trees are personified, given voices and emotions, and become a metaphor for the resilience of the human spirit. Brown’s use of symbolism in this poem highlights the importance of nature in our lives and the power it holds to inspire and heal us. As we read “The Trees,” we are reminded of the beauty and complexity of the natural world and the ways in which it can help us navigate the challenges of life.

The Significance of the Title

The title of Jericho Brown’s poem, “The Trees,” holds significant meaning in relation to the themes and imagery presented throughout the piece. The trees serve as a metaphor for the complexities of life and the human experience. Just as trees have roots that anchor them to the earth, the speaker in the poem is rooted in their own experiences and struggles. The trees also represent growth and change, as they shed their leaves and grow new ones each season. Similarly, the speaker in the poem undergoes personal growth and transformation. The title of the poem serves as a powerful symbol for the themes of resilience, growth, and the cyclical nature of life.

The Role of the Speaker

The role of the speaker in Jericho Brown’s poem “The Trees” is crucial to understanding the overall message of the piece. The speaker is the voice through which the poem is told, and it is their perspective that shapes the reader’s understanding of the trees and their significance. In this poem, the speaker is both observer and participant, as they witness the trees’ growth and decay and reflect on their own experiences. Through the speaker’s words, we see the trees as symbols of life and death, of growth and change, and of the cyclical nature of existence. Ultimately, the speaker’s role is to guide us through this journey of discovery, helping us to see the world in a new and profound way.

The Tone of the Poem

The tone of “The Trees” by Jericho Brown is one of contemplation and reflection. The speaker is observing the trees and their changing colors, and this prompts him to reflect on his own life and the passing of time. There is a sense of melancholy in the poem, as the speaker realizes that everything is fleeting and nothing lasts forever. However, there is also a sense of acceptance and even beauty in this realization. The poem’s tone is gentle and introspective, inviting the reader to join the speaker in his contemplation of the natural world and the human experience.

The Use of Imagery

The use of imagery is a powerful tool in poetry, and Jericho Brown’s “The Trees” is no exception. Throughout the poem, Brown employs vivid and evocative imagery to convey the speaker’s emotions and experiences. From the “black bark” of the trees to the “sudden green” of their leaves, the natural world is a constant presence in the poem, serving as a metaphor for the speaker’s own inner turmoil. By using imagery in this way, Brown creates a rich and layered poem that invites readers to explore its many meanings and interpretations.

The Importance of the Last Stanza

The last stanza of a poem is often the most crucial part of the entire piece. It is the final opportunity for the poet to leave a lasting impression on the reader and to drive home the message or theme of the poem. In Jericho Brown’s “The Trees,” the last stanza is particularly significant as it ties together the various themes and motifs explored throughout the poem. It is through this final stanza that the reader is able to fully grasp the depth and complexity of Brown’s message. Without it, the poem would feel incomplete and lacking in resolution. Therefore, it is essential to pay close attention to the last stanza of any poem in order to fully appreciate its meaning and significance.

The Poem’s Message

The message of Jericho Brown’s poem “The Trees” is one of resilience and perseverance. Through the metaphor of trees, Brown explores the idea that even in the face of adversity, we can continue to grow and thrive. The trees in the poem are battered by wind and rain, but they remain rooted in the ground, standing tall and strong. This resilience is a reminder that we too can weather the storms of life and emerge stronger on the other side. Brown’s poem is a powerful reminder of the beauty and strength of nature, and the lessons we can learn from it.

The Poem’s Reception

The Trees (2014) by Jericho Brown has received critical acclaim since its publication. The poem has been praised for its vivid imagery and powerful message about the relationship between humans and nature. Many readers have also noted the poem’s use of repetition and its ability to evoke a sense of urgency and importance. The Trees (2014) has been included in several anthologies and has been studied in classrooms around the world. Its impact on readers and its place in contemporary poetry make it a significant work in the literary canon.

The Poet’s Biography

Jericho Brown, born in 1976, is an American poet and professor. He grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and attended Dillard University in New Orleans before earning his MFA from the University of New Orleans and his PhD from the University of Houston. Brown has published three collections of poetry, including The Tradition, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2020. He is known for his exploration of race, sexuality, and identity in his work, and has been praised for his use of language and imagery. Brown currently teaches at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Poet’s Other Works

In addition to “The Trees,” Jericho Brown has published several other works of poetry. His debut collection, “Please,” was published in 2008 and won the American Book Award. Brown’s second collection, “The New Testament,” was published in 2014 and won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His most recent collection, “The Tradition,” was published in 2019 and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Brown’s poetry often explores themes of race, sexuality, and identity, and his work has been praised for its lyricism and emotional depth. In addition to his poetry, Brown is also a professor at Emory University and has been a recipient of numerous fellowships and awards.

The Poem’s Connection to Other Literary Works

The Trees by Jericho Brown is a poem that has a strong connection to other literary works. One of the most notable connections is to the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. Both poems explore the theme of nature and the beauty that can be found in it. However, while Frost’s poem is more contemplative and introspective, Brown’s poem is more celebratory and joyful. Another literary work that The Trees can be connected to is the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Both works explore the theme of self-discovery and the importance of finding one’s own voice. The Trees also shares similarities with the poetry of Langston Hughes, particularly in its use of vernacular language and its celebration of African American culture. Overall, The Trees is a poem that is deeply connected to other literary works and is a testament to the power of poetry to inspire and connect people across time and space.

The Poem’s Connection to Current Events

The Trees, a poem written by Jericho Brown in 2014, has a strong connection to current events. The poem speaks about the importance of nature and the impact of human actions on the environment. In today’s world, where climate change and environmental degradation are major concerns, The Trees serves as a reminder of the need to protect and preserve our natural resources. The poem also touches on themes of race and identity, which are relevant in the current social and political climate. Brown’s powerful words and imagery make The Trees a timeless piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.

The Poem’s Connection to History

The Trees by Jericho Brown is a poem that is deeply connected to history. The poem explores the themes of slavery, oppression, and the struggle for freedom. Brown uses the image of trees to symbolize the history of African Americans in the United States. The trees represent the history of slavery, the struggle for freedom, and the ongoing fight for equality. The poem is a powerful reminder of the importance of remembering our history and the struggles of those who came before us. It is a call to action to continue the fight for justice and equality for all people. The Trees is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the heart of the human experience and the struggle for freedom and equality.

The Poem’s Connection to Culture

The Trees (2014) by Jericho Brown is a poem that speaks to the connection between nature and culture. The poem explores the relationship between trees and the African American experience, highlighting the ways in which trees have been used as symbols of oppression and resistance. Brown’s use of language and imagery creates a powerful and evocative portrait of the complex relationship between nature and culture, and the ways in which they are intertwined. Through his exploration of this theme, Brown offers a unique perspective on the role of nature in shaping our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.