The Tree That Plucks Fruit (2015)


Text by Vicki Hearne

Total duration ca. 3'30"

Single movement work

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Audio clip performed by Brett King and Coro Volante

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Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $1.00 per copy

Vicki Hearne’s poem has a simple vocabulary that masks the difficult of the concepts she is illustrating. Paradoxes are heaped one upon the other, but presented in a matter-of-fact fashion. Still, her concise use of this simple vocabulary provides a key: the tree, the air, the truth, the stars, and, most importantly, words. The role words and manmade concepts play in forming our existence and experience of the world is the heart of the poem. The tree/orchard is the world, and our lives are the fruit, clearly the product of the world, and yet somehow we consider ourselves formed separately from it, as if plucked from the air. Numbers are conceptual, yet these and other concepts uphold the world. We are caught in this tension between the real and the conceptual, epitomized by the word, which is only symbolic of actual thought. The poem’s final image is of a kind of radiant bewilderment. Hearne flings the beacons of truth by which we lead our lives everywhere (which is where we find them): on the ground, in the air, and into the branches of the tree of lives, as well as the actual trees within our lives. In using the final tree both literally and symbolically, Hearne inscribes literal objects of the world with this “outside the world” conceptuality. In this duality the poem marvels at how we imbue the world itself with a meaning that is, hopefully, constantly growing, catching yet more stars in our branches.

Text by Vicki Hearne, from Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems, copyright © 2007 by University of Chicago Press. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Vicki Hearne.