Home > poets > Conversation (by Dan Pagis)

Conversation (by Dan Pagis)

Four talked about the pine tree. One defined it by genus, species, and
variety. One assessed its disadvantages for the lumber industry. One
quoted poems about pine trees in many languages. One took root,
stretched out branches, and rustled.

I want to discuss here this very short poem, because it has an interesting internal organisation. It is not a classic verse at all, but rather an unsophisticated short story, no longer than a paragraph that is devised as a list of four people conversing about a pine tree.

The conversation ranges from the mundane to the poetic. The last person in the list no longer talks about a pine tree. Rather, he is compared to it metaphorically. He (or she) takes root, stretches out branches and rustles. It must be a creative and productive type of person.

So there is an evolution in the things listed. As a result, the list transcends its usual mundane function of enumerating different equivalent items. And that makes the list itself, well, poetic.

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