Okay so now we're looking at John Ashbery's, "Some Trees". It was written very early. He was a student at Harvard University when he wrote this remarkable poem. And this is our only chance to do a really close reading, a complete close reading of a poem in this chapter. And so we'll be focusing on how the language works. And Ashbury is a practitioner of what used to be called extremely difficult opaque language. I think we've gotten used to it. So let me read the poem, and then I'll assign the parts. Here we go. Some trees, or some trees. These are amazing, each joining a neighbor as through 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 here means something. That soon we may touch love. Explain. And glad not to have invented such comeliness. We are surrounded. A silence already filled with noises. A canvas on which emerges a chorus of smiles. A winter morning. Placed in a puzzling light and moving. Our days put on such reticence, these accents seem their own defense. Okay, so here we go. Max, you have these. Molly you have amazing. Anna you have each joining a neighbor. Allie you have as though speech were still performance? Dave and Emerice, you have ready? Arranging by chance to meet as far this morning from the world as agreeing with it. You had that whole thing, good luck. All right? Okay, Emily you have you and I. Max, you have what they trees try to tell us we are. Molly, you have merely being there. Why don't you take merely being there means something? Anna, you and I have touch, love, explain. And Ally, you have glad not to have invented such calmliness, and we're going to do all the rest of it together. We are surrounded, a silence already filled with noises. A canvas on which emerges a course that smiles a winter morning placed in a puzzling light. And moving, who's next? Dave. Dave, you have moving. Amarice, you have these accents seem their own defense. And Emily, you have reticence. [LAUGH] That one had your name on it. Okay, some trees. We forgot the title. Let's do the title together. Some trees, how does it work? Translate that. Some trees, what's some mean? >> It could mean any old trees. >> Any old trees, just some trees, anything else? >> It could mean some trees out of. >> Some out of many, some particular. >> It could mean some trees as in some pig. Yeah, as in some trees. Which do you think it is, by the way? Some trees. Hubba hubba. Some trees. These are some trees. Which do you think it is? We don't know. The some that suggest just a few not important could be the way into this poem. A little like Carlos William's poem, Lines. Just some trees, some writing about some trees. Okay. Max, these are amazing. What do you have? These? >> These, yes. >> This is easy. What does it refer to? >> Well it refers to the trees, presumably. It's one of these indicating words that we've sort of come across many times. >> Yeah, and in our course, when you get to this you highlight it, and you decorate it and put an arrow to it. >> It's like the This of the Emily Dickinses. >> It's like this. So these are, it's important. Because the lines of the poem are amazing in a sense. Did you have amazing there? Tell us about amazing. >> It's sort of awing, beautiful, stupendous. >> Anything else? Amazement. There's a relationship between amazement and maze. Is? >> Like baffling, sort of? >> Yeah, I think also Feingold? If you describe some trees as amazing, what do you get? What's the image that we get? It's Anna, it's joining the neighbor as the, do you have each joining a neighbor? >> I have each joining a neighbor, yeah. >> How can trees join a neighbor? >> Well if you think about a huge forest. That, you know, all the trees. >> Or even just a little grove of some trees. >> Just a little grove. >> Yeah. Each join's a neighbor how? >> Because they all kind of occupy the same space. The all sort of grow up together. They- >> Not at the roots. They're not actually, expect in the case of some specific types of trees. >> No, no, no, no. They are individualized botanically, but where do they join? >> Underground. >> No. They're not joined underground. I suppose the roots can tangle, but more likely the branches and the leaves. Yeah. Each joining a neighbor. They have a, what kind of relationship would you say, relationship would you say, that trees have to each other? >> Could use a biology word, say symbiotic. >> You're being fancy. When you look at some trees do you think they have a relationship in the way we mean it? How's the way we mean it? >> You have someone that you really like in your life. That's called a relationship. Do the trees have that relationship? You're being too much of an Ivy League student. Just give me the plain answer. >> No. >> No, trees don't have the same kind of relationship [LAUGH], except if we do what to them? Cross-pollinate? [LAUGH] >> Anthropomorphize it. To do what poets have always done. Which is to imagine that as having a relationship. All right, all right. Speech were still performance. You have that really difficult line. What do you do with it? >> I read it as communication without >> Necessary movement. >> WIth respect to trees that are crossing each other, and being a grove. How can you describe that as if speech were still performance? >> Well I just kind of imagine the branches just kind of intermingling with the air and with each other. And just kind of sharing that space. >> You be a tree and I'll be a tree, okay? Then we have to do, we have to have. >> [LAUGH] >> No, no. We have to have [LAUGH] Yes, it's an interpretive dance! That's exactly right. Okay. Now what? [LAUGH] What's the, as though speech were still performance. We didn't talk to the trees you and I, but what did we do? >> We. >> We enacted a still performance. Yeah, as though speech were still performance. So there's something about these trees interacting, talking, speaking a language that's. Okay so it's very confusing by the way, this poem. It's beautiful but it's confusing. All right so the two of you I think, Dave and Emerice, you have arranging by chance to meet as far this morning from the world as. This is classic Ashbery. This is unidiomatic, go ahead, translate it, paraphrase it. >> Well, so before that we have established that the trees are next to each other. But here Ashbery moves us forward to the trees actually meeting. So that accident of proximity becomes sort of conscious and deliberate. We're not sure exactly how they meet but it seems this place that's far from the world as agreeing. So agreeing implies a distance. >> Wow. >> Whereas disagreeing implies a counter. >> Wow okay so Dave, is it possible, if I want to meet you, is it possible for me to arrange by chance to meet you? It's actually kind of a paradox you can't really arrange by chance, but you can, can't you? >> I thought it was just a paradox. >> It is a paradox. Except if I want to meet you, and I know that you're at the Claes Oldenburg Button outside the University of Pennsylvania library at noon. I can arrange by chance to, funny that you're here! So it's a paradox. It's a classic Ashberian paradox. Arranging by chance to meet. How did we meet? Were we intended to meet? Okay, there's something about the two people, presumably. Arranging by chance to meet now. As far this morning from the world as agreeing with it. This is difficult. >> because as far >> Could be either as far from the world or to be as far as it green with it. >> So have two idioms in it which as far as, he also have as far from. But here it uses both. To meet as far as this morning from the world as it grin with it. Okay. Got So in the direction of trying to explain that. To me as far this morning from the world, so we are meeting at a place. Where is it? >> Distant from the world if we are agreeing with it. >> To the degree, to the extent to which we disagree with the world. Or agree with the world, which is to say not at all or not much. We pace off that distance, from the world and meet there. Which implies that the two figures of this poem, or multiple, we don't know what it is yet, it implies that they have arranged by chance. Chance as in chance operations. But yet we disagree with the world to the same extent and found each other based on our disagreement with the world. What would the world mean in this context? It's tough, but >> I mean I would say standards of being, criteria of conforming >> So, when I say Amaresa you're graduating with a B.A. what do I mean?You grimaced just even thinking about it. >> [LAUGH] >> A world of maybe blue collar or white collar labor where I'd have to [CROSSTALK] >> The world of work, the world of reality as the parents of college students say. Welcome to reality. Okay, so, the world is like the hub bub, the New York School, the hum colored cabs and the Madison Avenue busses, that world. And this seems to be a place where there are trees. So implicitly, this is a place outside the world. And we come there this morning, having met by chance, because we disagree with the world to the same extent. Pretty hard, but when you spell it out it's not so hard at all. Okay so who, you and I, who's got that? >> Me. You the reader, I the author of the poem. >> You're being fancy right away. Can you be less fancy? >> Or maybe just some obscure second person in the place of the poem. >> Or maybe not obscure. Maybe it's a love poem and this is a poem to the you, saying you and I met here under these trees, right? And, Ally... you know, so we met under these trees and what are these trees doing? Ally's not doing it anymore. What are these trees doing? Traffic. >> [LAUGH] >> They're independent beings who have no necessary relationship, but they are being amazing, in the maze sense, these are some trees, and we stand under these trees. They indicates something, you and I, so it could be a love poem, right? You and I, who's got this, are suddenly what the trees try to tell us what we are, is that you, Max? >> Yeah. >> What could that possibly mean? First of off, the trees can't tell us. >> Well it's a great kind of reversal of this sort of poetic project or descriptive project of trying to say what >> What something inanimate is, or trying to anthropomorphize it, I think is what we said earlier. Personify it, or bring it alive with language, rather the subjects of the poem, Ashberry or the persona, his companion, or instead being defined by the trees. >> Yes, we are suddenly what the trees try to tell us we are. What would the trees try to tell us we are? Speak for the trees, Max. What are the trees saying? >> I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees! [LAUGH] >> [LAUGH] Ashbury and Seuss, yes, a couple of peas in a pod. Max? >> [LAUGH] Sorry. >> What do the trees try to tell us? Speak in the words of the tree, come on you can do it. Hey, John and friend, we have something to tell you. What? This is the key to the poem, so I'm kind of you to say something that's pretty difficult. >> It is difficult. >> Because the trees, what are they saying. >> That we are here and that means something. >> Yes. In fact because there's a colon what I'm asking you comes next. >> Sure. >> Okay, and is that? >> Yes, it is. >> Well, go ahead >> We'll do this and then we'll take a break. >> Just the presence of the trees is significant, and then therefore the presence of the two people together also. >> So now speak to the trees, you be the trees, some trees, speaking to this couple who just met, presumably they arranged by chance to meet as far >> From the world as the extent to which they agree with the world, which is maybe to say they disagree with it. They pace out that distance, and they find themselves standing under these trees. They have a relationship. And the trees say. >> We're here. >> We're just here. >> We're here and that means something. >> It means something to be >> Be here. That you are here signifies. We do a still performance. We have nothing to say except that we are trees. And trees have what kind of relationship? >> An amazing. >> An incidental one. >> An incidental one. They're just trees, some trees. What a model for the concept of relationship. Actually, I think this poem, I'm jumping ahead a little bit, but 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 arrange 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 be 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 postmodern 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 in botany, for instance. So when we come back, we're going to have to deal with this triad touch love explained. Because it's the second thing the trees are saying to this couple. So let's deal with that when we get back.