I'm studying the poem "Be Different to Trees" (1924) by Mary Carolyn Davies:

The talking oak
To the ancients spoke.

But any tree
Will talk to me.

What truths I know
I garnered so.

But those who want to talk and tell,
And those who will not listeners be,
Will never hear a syllable
From out the lips of any tree.

I would like to know who is 'me' and 'I' in the poem. Is it the tree or the human? And could you please tell me if I understand the meaning of the poem correctly as follows:

"Be different to trees" means try and listen carefully to the trees. The talking oak says every tree talks to him. He garner the truths he learn from other trees. But any human who loves to talk and never listen, will never hear any word from a tree.


1 Answer 1


Although I understand your read, I think it's incorrect. The seeming ambiguity is in the line "to the ancients spoke." If the remainder of the poem was what the tree said, I would expect a colon after "spoke," and the rest of the poem to be in quotes.

Instead, I believe the narrator is human. She is contrasting the experience of the ancients, who demanded a special tree to talk to, with her own experience, which is that a person can communicate with any tree, if only she is willing to listen instead of talk.

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