The Quote Garden ™
“I dig old books.” ™
Quotations about Trees
Welcome to my page of quotations about trees, man's brethren in nature as they are called. I've no idea why “advocates for the preservation of woodlands” (a.k.a. tree huggers) are generally held in negative regard in our society, but I suppose you could consider me one. I've been collecting these quotes since the 1980s, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy them. Unite, forest lovers! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g
How dear the woods are! You beautiful trees! I love every one of you as a friend. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909
There's nothing wrong with having a tree for a friend. ~Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting
Now we enter the ancient wood. In what wild forms the gnarled and mossy boughs are twisted, what a sensation of sacred repose. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation III: The Oak-wood," 1850
Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.... I'm sure I'll always feel like a child in the woods. These walks home from school are almost the only time I have for dreaming.... [H]ere in the woods I like best to imagine quite different things…I'm a dryad living in an old pine, or a little brown wood-elf hiding under a crinkled leaf. That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine. The only difference is, she's a tree and I'm a girl, but that's no real difference. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909
Is not the smell of forests delicious? it seems to ascend like the smoke of incense. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation III: The Oak-wood," 1850 [Edith speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Trees are tall because they need to be in two places at once. Ponderosa that for a little while… ~Arizona Forest Fund, 2018 @az_forest_fund Instagram post
If a man walks in the woods for love of them and see his fellows with impartial eye afar, for half his days, he is esteemed a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods, he is esteemed industrious and enterprising — making earth bald before its time. ~Henry David Thoreau
But no weather interfered fatally with my walks, or rather my going abroad, for I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech-tree, or a yellow-birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines; when the ice and snow causing their limbs to droop, and so sharpening their tops, had changed the pines into fir-trees; wading to the tops of the highest hills when the snow was nearly two feet deep on a level, and shaking down another snow-storm on my head at every step; or sometimes creeping and floundering thither on my hands and knees, when the hunters had gone into winter quarters. ~Henry David Thoreau
Plants are the young of the world, vessels of health and vigor; but they grope ever upward towards consciousness; the trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment, rooted in the ground. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature"
It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far! ~John Muir, July 1890
Every string of nature's breezy harp is touched to answer thy sighs. The green oak and cedar—the dark pine, the yellow and silvery-barked willow—each majestic old tree; hath its own peculiar tone and whisper for thine ear. ~Elizabeth J. Eames, "An Autumn Reverie," October 1840
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do. I feel as if this tree knows everything I ever think of when I sit here. When I come back to it, I never have to remind it of anything; I begin just where I left off. ~Willa Sibert Cather, O Pioneers!, 1913
'Whether is better the gift or the donor?
Come to me,'
Quoth the pine-tree,
'I am the giver of honor.
He is great who can live by me.
The rough and bearded forester
Is better than the lord...'
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, II"
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
~Joyce Kilmer, "Trees," 1914
I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Song of the Open Road"
The groves were God's first temples. ~William Cullen Bryant, "Forest Hymn"
Trees are your best antiques. ~Alexander Smith
Whoso walketh in solitude,
And inhabiteth the wood,
Choosing light, wave, rock, and bird,
Before the money-loving herd,
Into that forester shall pass,
From these companions, power and grace.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, II"
Clouds at noon occupying about half the sky gave half an hour of heavy rain to wash one of the cleanest landscapes in the world. How well it is washed!... How fresh the woods are and calm after the last films of clouds have been wiped from the sky! A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fibre thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself. ~John Muir, 1869 July 24th
A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. ~Welsh proverb
Down at the end of a winding path
Is a group of evergreen trees,
Pine and hemlock, and spruce and fir,
With their resinous fragrances;
And truest picture of calm content
That mortal ever saw...
~Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, "My Air–castle," The Sunset–song and other Verses, 1902
Once again the pine-tree sung:—
'Speak not thy speech my boughs among;
Put off thy years, wash in the breeze;
My hours are peaceful centuries...'
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, II"
It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our life is associated with trees. They are allied with the songs of morn, with the quiet of noonday, with social gatherings under the evening sky, and with the beauty and attractiveness of every season. Nowhere does nature look more lovely, or the sounds from birds and insects affect us more deeply, than under their benevolent shade. Never does the blue sky look more serene than when its dappled azure glimmers through their green trembling leaves. Their recesses... are still the favorite resorts of the studious... and the very sanctuary of peaceful seclusion for the contemplative and sorrowful. ~Wilson Flagg, "Relations of Trees to Poetry and Fable," The Woods and By-Ways of New England, 1872
Trees are the fairest ornaments of nature. ~Wilson Flagg
The wood is wiser far than thou... ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, II"
As a child she'd kept a copy of Evangeline in her pocket. She'd go down by the riverside and read it until she cried her eyes out... She thought the two words — primeval forest — that's often in that book, were the two most beautiful words in the English language. ~Author unknown
We all travel the milky way together, trees and men; but it never occurred to me until this storm-day, while swinging in the wind, that trees are travelers, in the ordinary sense. They make many journeys, not very extensive ones, it is true; but our own little comes and goes are only little more than tree-wavings—many of them not so much. ~John Muir, "A Wind Storm in the Forests of the Yuba," Scribner's Monthly, November 1878
Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, II"
The girl was very lovely. She smelled deliciously of pine needles. ~Maud Casey, The Man Who Walked Away, 2014
But indeed, it is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of the air, that emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
There is something about a forest that compels introspection... ~Eloise J. Roorbach, "The Big Basin," Overland Monthly, October 1907
Mountains suggest pine-trees, the aboriginal, and let us hope, the never-to-be-exterminated dwellers upon their slopes... if ever our pine-forests are destroyed, the North will have lost the deepest intonation of its outdoor poetry. For the leaves of the pine are harp-strings played upon by the viewless presences of the air... ~Lucy Larcom
Except during the nine months before he draws his first breath, no man manages his affairs as well as a tree does. ~Bernard Shaw
In the springtime, leaves unfolding,
Growing, growing one by one,
In the summer, always giving
Cool, green shade to every one;
In the autumn, tall and stately,
Dressed in yellow, red and brown,
In the winter, sleeping, sleeping,
While the snow comes softly down...
~Charlotte Lay Dewey, "A Song of the Trees," in Kindergarten Review (Springfield, Mass.), October 1906
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time. ~John Lubbock, “Recreation,” The Use of Life, 1894
Sun out in the fields kin sizz,
But flat on yer back, I guess,
In the shade's where glory is!
~James Whitcomb Riley, "Knee-Deep in June"
"Who are you talking to?" I asked a child who was standing alone in the park. "The trees. They like it." ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
When the pine tosses its cones...
To birds and trees he talks...
There the poet is at home.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, I"
The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now. ~Chinese proverb
A snowflake fell silent onto a red maple leaf, then another and another fell and joined it, until soon all the leaves on the ground were frosted with snow. A whisper of November wind shivered the leaves yet clinging to the chestnut tree. It rustled through the bare limbs, reminding, "It's time… It's time…" ~Ethel Pochocki (1925–2010), "Little-Good-for-Nothing," The Attic Mice, 1990 [a little altered —tg]
The cracked and hairy pineapple hide of an old palm tree growing next to the sidewalk captures Gordon's attention. He looks up, marveling at its longevity. His grandfather probably passed by that very tree fifty years ago. In its bird-spattered crown, Gordon hears a mourning dove's sorrowful burble blending with the dwindling patter of rain on this otherwise churchyard still day. ~Derek Swannson, Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg, 2007
You see the tree that sweeps my window-pane?
All the long winter-time it moans and grieves;
In the bleak nights I hear its boughs complain,
Praying for gracious sunshine and warm rain,
And its withheld inheritance of leaves.
But what avails it? Though the sad tree wears
Its heart out with its grief, what shall it gain?
Do you believe the tardy summer cares
For all its wild rebukes and passionate prayers,
Or that the sun shines warmer for its pain?
~Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (1832–1911), "Time," c.1866
Year on year
The lovely trees have grown more dear.
~V.O. Wallingford (b.1876), "The Cottonwood Trees"
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone...
~Joni Mitchell, from “Big Yellow Taxi,” lyrics written circa 1967–68, © Siquomb Publishing Company
The trees are whispering to me, reminding me of my roots, and my reach... shhhhhh... can you hear them? Selflessly sharing their subtle song. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson
The rope-like pine roots crosswise grown
Composed the network of his throne;
The wide lake, edged with sand and grass,
Was burnished to a floor of glass,
Painted with shadows green and proud
Of the tree and of the cloud.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes, I" [I've seen this Bob Ross painting! —tg]
The best part of happiness is the pines. ~Terri Guillemets, "Thunder in the mountains," 1986
...is it not kin of the human family with its roots in the earth and its arms stretching toward the sky as if to seek and to know the great mystery? ~Art Young (1866–1943)
In the storm, like a prophet o'ermaddened,
Thou singest and tossest thy branches;
Thy heart with the terror is gladdened,
Thou forebodest the dread avalanches....
In the calm thou o'erstretchest the valleys
With thine arms, as if blessings imploring,
Like an old king led forth from his palace,
When his people to battle are pouring...
~James Russell Lowell, “To A Pine-Tree”
We can learn a lot from trees: they're always grounded but never stop reaching heavenward. ~Terri Guillemets, "Humans & nature," 2002
Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life. ~John Muir [For quite some time I wasn't sure if this was an actual Muir quotation, but fortunately Dan Styer has worked hard to track it down. Read about it here: oberlin.edu/physics/dstyer/Muir/QuotableJohnMuir.html. Thanks, Dan! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
It's so wonderful here — this great, white stillness, and those dark trees that seem to be thinking. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
Once glistering green,
With dewy sheen,
And summer glory round them cast:
Now black and bare,
The trees stand there,
And mourn their beauty that it past.
Look, leaf by leaf,
Each leaf a grief.
The hand of Autumn strips them bare.
No sound nor cry,
As they fall and die,
Because they know that Life is there.
So stiff and strong,
The winter long,
All uncomplaining stand the trees.
God make my life,
Through all its strife,
As true to Spring as one of these.
So would I stand,
Serene and grand,
While age strips off the joys of youth;
Because I know
That, as they go,
My soul draws nearer to the Truth.
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy, "Trees," The Sorrows of God and Other Poems, 1924
But these trees are derelicts—throwing out a wisp of foliage here and there, a truce to death, with each returning spring. ~Julia Ellen Rogers, “The Big Tree and the Redwood,” The Tree Book: A Popular Guide to a Knowledge of the Trees of North America and to their Uses and Cultivation, 1905
Wind tries to show Tree how to run wild.
Tree: "I cannot leave this place."
Wind: "Then let's dance."
I hugged a tree today — the weeping willow looked like it really needed one. ~Patrick McDonnell, "Shtinky's Dear Diary," Mutts, @muttscomics, Instagram post, 2020
That a slender wooden tree twig can give birth to luscious pears, apples, peaches remains an extraordinary feat. ~Dr. SunWolf, 2012 January 17th tweet, professorsunwolf.com
Too bad you can't just grab a tree by the very tiptop and bend it clear over the ground and then let her fly, because I bet you'd be amazed at all the stuff that comes flying out. ~Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts, 1992, deepthoughtsbyjackhandey.com
A palo verde
is sunlit laughter
when Spring walks
A pepper tree is
a lace mantilla
through which the
has gypsy breeding
that laughs at wind and rain;
Gnarled sycamores sing
where canyons are deep,
a peace-filled, calm refrain…
But high on mountains,
the pines stand praying,
their voices whisper low
as they chant together
an ageless measure,
"Reach out and up, and grow!"
~Lorraine Babbitt, "Tree Portraits," in Arizona Highways, September 1961
The ash trees grow crimson in color, and lose their summer life in great gouts of blood. The birches touch their frail spray with yellow; the chestnuts drop down their leaves in brown, twirling showers. The beeches crimped with the frost, guard their foliage, until each leaf whistles white, in the November gales. The bitter-sweet hangs its bare, and leaf-less tendrils from rock to tree, and swaps with the weight of its brazen berries. The sturdy oaks, unyielding to the winds, and to the frosts, struggle long against the approaches of the winter; and in their struggles, wear faces of orange, of scarlet, of crimson, and of brown; and finally, yielding to swift winds, — as youth's pride yields to manly duty, — strew the ground with the scattered glories of their summer strength; and warm, and feed the earth, with the debris of their leafy honors. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons
...the ailanthus, with all its greenness gone, — lifts up its skeleton fingers to the God of Autumn and of storms, — the dog-wood still guards its crown; and the branches which stretched their white canvas in April now bear up a spire of bloody tongues, that lie against the leafless woods, like a tree on fire. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons
All freezes again —
among the pines, winds whispering
~Riei, 1794, in Yoel Hoffmann, Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death, 1986
I passed by the pitch pine that was struck by lightning, and was impressed with awe on looking up and seeing that broad, distinct, spiral mark, more distinct even than when made eight years ago, as one might groove a walking stick,… mark where a terrific and resistless bolt came down from heaven, out of the harmless sky. It seemed a sacred spot. ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1853 December 26th [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Long-standing hearts of nature
Absorbers of human angst
I knew how the trees would change, the air grow misted and chill;
I felt the gold twilight under the trees, the smell of earth-mould and crushed acorns,
and last of all, I knew, the leaves of the fig-tree would turn gold and fall slowly, one by one,
(always the falling of the fig-leaves is heavy with infinite melancholy—)
then one day a great gale would come thundering through the trees,
strip the last leaves from the poplars, and leave the landscape bare.
~Dallas Kenmare Browne Kelsey (c.1905–1970)
Not at home to callers
Says the naked tree –
Jacket due in April.
Wishing you good day.
Gilbert and Anne... were sauntering through the shadows of the Haunted Wood. Beyond, the harvest hills were basking in an amber sunset radiance, under a pale, aerial sky of rose and blue. The distant spruce groves were burnished bronze, and their long shadows barred the upland meadows. But around them a little wind sang among the fir tassels, and in it there was the note of autumn. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
the woods, the quietude —
her refuge, her poetry, her home
~Terri Guillemets, "Forest bliss," 2019, blackout poetry created from Louise Penny, Still Life, 2005, pages 168–169
A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense. ~Author unknown
...Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze...
~James Russell Lowell
The parlour is tiny and neat. Its one window is so shaded by a huge willow that the room has a grotto-like effect of emerald gloom. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
The bark of the banished trees is clawed and scratched by furry apple-thieves, and the boughs bent and broken so that they fall about your shoulders if you stand under them. Apple-trees like to cuddle, and it must soothe their loneliness to have a woman's hand touch their torn and wounded skin, and a woman's eyes look up into their green souls. ~Margaret Troili, “Woods of Mendocino,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, June 1908
[T]he bees will buzz you a welcome from the hives at the end, and then the trees will stoop down about you, and you can look up into a green sky set with constellations of apples. ~Margaret Troili, “Woods of Mendocino,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, June 1908
the moon and plum tree
make flow'ry springtime shadows—
lovers of the night
I passed through trees. Inside their wooden samurai armor they are geisha beauties, each one a 'person-of-the-art,' limbs dancing, arranging flowers, carrying the wind's music, the calligraphy of their roots pure poetry, rhyming earth and berth. ~A.A. Attanasio, "Fractal Blood Soul," 2007
Standing in silent starlight,
the wind carries a crimson leaf to my feet.
Love letter from a nearby tree.
~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
I don't know that a graveyard is a very good place to go to get cheered up, but it seems the only get-at-able place where there are trees, and trees I must have. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
Finland is officially the world’s happiest country. It is also 75 per cent forest. I believe these facts are related. ~Matt Haig, Instagram post, 2019
Exhalation of moss, mycelium, black mould; wafted savor of a thousand earthly growths, damp, clinging, redolent; aroma of mighty roots, of invisible spawn and seed—all the vast stirring of the earth's desire. ~Virginia Garland, “The Rain,” Out West: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New, February 1908
Anne was sitting on the big gray boulder in the orchard looking at the poem of a bare, birchen bough hanging against the pale red sunset with the very perfection of grace. ~L. M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, 1915
As the spring comes on, and the densening outlines of the elm give daily a new design for a Grecian urn, — its hue, first brown with blossoms, then emerald with leaves, — we appreciate the vanishing beauty of the bare boughs. In our favored temperate zone, the trees denude themselves each year, like the goddesses before Paris, that we may see which unadorned loveliness is the fairest. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days," 1861
Farther down the mountain the spruce grow full and strong, but the bristlecone pine grow only here at timberline and in a few scattered groves downslope where conditions approximate those at the heights. Ice-grained winter winds have scoured them of bark and twisted their burly trunks like hawsers. Their frayed and brambled limbs, upstretched in frozen homage to the sky, have been foreshortened by centuries of brief summers. Their roots press with sullen desperation into the shivered stone, and by the looks of them they have only the most tenuous grip on life. Yet the bristlecone pine is the oldest living thing on earth. ~David W. Toll, "Bristlecone to Saguaro: The Story of Arizona's Trees and Forests from Timberline to Desert Floor," Arizona Highways, January 1971
Forest air is magical. ~Terri Guillemets
[They] lived in an enchanting forest lodge... the deodar forest rose up protectively on three sides of it, dwarfing and sheltering it, while its front windows faced the level sweep of the valley with its orchards and walnut groves and the forests that swept up again on the far side. The air smelled deliciously of pine-needles, herbs and woodsmoke, of the little yellow climbing roses that grow wild in the Himalayas... ~M. M. Kaye, Golden Afternoon, 1997
Only yonder magnificent pine-tree... holds her unchanging beauty throughout the year, like her half-brother, the ocean, whose voice she shares; and only marks the flowing of her annual tide of life by the new verdure that yearly submerges all trace of last year's ebb. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "April Days," 1861
You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion of challenge the ideology of a violet. ~Hal Borland, "Spring Is for Laughter," 1954
The beauty of the forest is extraordinary — but ‘beauty' is too simple a word, for being here is not just an aesthetic experience, but one steeped with mystery, with awe.... My father once told me that the very word ‘paradise' meant garden.... But gardens, Eden or Kew, are not the right metaphors here, for the primeval has nothing to do with the human, but has to do with the ancient, the aboriginal, the beginning of all things. The primeval, the sublime, are much better words here — for they indicate realms remote from the moral or the human, realms which force us to gaze into immense vistas of space and time, where the beginnings and originations of all things lie hidden. Now, as I wandered in the cycad forest on Rota, it seemed as if my senses were actually enlarging, as if a new sense, a time sense, was opening within me, something which might allow me to appreciate millennia or aeons as directly as I had experienced seconds or minutes.... Standing here in the jungle, I feel part of a larger, calmer identity; I feel a profound sense of being at home, a sort of companionship with the earth. ~Oliver Sacks, The Island of the Colour-blind and Cycad Island, 1996 (Thanks, Dan!)
It seems natural to liken venerable trees to grand old men. It is something to have lived through storms that try one so terribly, but only succeed in giving greater powers. Even the scars of a tree add dignity, and the loss here and there of a limb only makes for more character... ~Eloise J. Roorbach, "The Big Basin," Overland Monthly, October 1907
A bare tree stands
with roots on both ends
in December days.
~Kiran Bantawa, "Bare Trees"
Climb a tree — it gets you closer to heaven. ~Anonymous
Last saved 2021 Apr 08 Thu 21:59 PDT