I’ve carried this poem with me for years, and it still rings true.
Trying to Tell You Something
by Robert Penn Warren
All things lean at you, and some are
Trying to tell you something, though of some
The heart is too full for speech. On a hill, the oak,
Immense, older than Jamestown or God, splitting
With its own weight at the great inverted
Crotch, air-spread and ice-hung, ringed with iron
Like barrel-hoops, only heavier, massive rods
Running through and bolted, and higher, the cables,
Which in summer are hidden by green leaves—the oak,
It is trying to tell you something. It wants,
In its fullness of years, to describe to you
What happens on a December night when
It stands alone in a world of whiteness. The moon is full.
You can hear the stars crackle in their high brightness.
It is ten below zero, and the iron
Of hoops and reinforcement rods is continuing to contract.
There is the rhythm of a slow throb, like pain. The wind,
Northwest, is steady, and in the wind, the cables,
In a thin-honed and disinfectant purity, like
A dentist’s drill, sing. They sing
Of truth, and its beauty. The oak
Wants to declare this to you, so that you
Will not be unprepared when, some December night,
You stand on a hill, in a world of whiteness, and
Stare into the crackling absoluteness of the sky. The oak
Wants to tell you because, at that moment,
In your own head, the cables will sing
With a thin-honed and disinfectant purity,
And no one can predict the consequences