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by phil gennuso

by phil gennuso

The Useless Tree

Hui Tzu said to Chuang:
I have a big tree,
The kind they call a “stinktree.”
The trunk is so distorted,
So full of knots,
No one can get a straight plank
Out of it. The branches are so crooked
You cannot cut them up
In any way that makes sense.

There it stands beside the road.
No carpenter will even look at it.

Such is your teaching–
big and useless.

Chuang Tzu replied:
Have you ever watched the wildcat
Crouching, watching his prey–
This way it leaps, and that way,
Hight and low, and at last
Lands in the trap.

But have you seen the yak?
Great as a thundercloud
He stands in his might.
Big? Sure.
He can’t catch mice!

So for your big tree. No use?
Then plant it in the wasteland
In emptiness.
Walk idly around,
Rest under the shadow;
No axe or bill prepares its end.
No one will ever cut it down.

Useless? You should worry!

*Just a brief note on how this post came to be — I created the digital art about six months or so ago. I liked it but I didn’t feel it was distinctive enough as a stand alone post. However, I could not think of any words to go along with my digital tree! About a week or so ago, while visiting my local library, I picked up “The Way Of Chuang Tzu”, by Thomas Merton, at the ongoing library sale. (it cost 50 cents, a great buy!) The very first poem, after the introductory essay, was “The Useless Tree”. As soon as I read the poem I knew these were the words my tree was waiting patiently for! Thanks for stopping by! *