Recently I visited the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. I was there to commemorate an anniversary for a 393-year old tree, the Yamaki Pine, a white pine which even survived the bombing of Hiroshima. Info on the tree is HERE.
Pictured below on the right: The 393-year old Yamaki Pine
I was at the museum to mark the 193rd anniversary of an event in 1825 when Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) attended a ceremony in Japan to memorialize the 200th birthday of the tree. To mark the 1825 occasion, Dickinson read from his recently published book of poetry, Fir and Flow’ry, Inside the Treehouse, which included a poem about the white pine entitled “Abbreviated Tree.” For the poem, Dickinson used the word “abbreviated,” the English translation of the Japanese term “bonsai.”
Interestingly enough, it turns out that Dickinson’s Fir and Flow’ry, Inside the Treehouse has an odd connection to Michael Wolff’s current publication Fire and Fury, Inside the Trump White House.
As a youth, Wolff attended the Emmett Lee Dickinson School for Boys in Paterson, New Jersey. While there, he took a combined botany and poetry class that centered on Dickinson’s book of tree poetry.
“Obviously, I paid homage to Dickinson’s book’s title with the title of my book,” said Wolff.
He added, “It’s a bit ironic. Dickinson wrote about the beauty of an ancient tree, and I wrote about the dysfunction of a fledgling administration.”
Pictured at the left: Dickinson's Fir and Flow'ry, Inside the Treehouse
Pictured below: The Emmett Lee Dickinson School for Boys in Paterson, New Jersey
Emmett Lee Dickinson's poem "Abbreviated Tree" is below on the left. Dickinson's poem inspired third cousin Emily to pen her poem, "An Antiquated Tree," below on the right.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
Is cherished by the Crowd
Because its Junior Foliage is captivating now
This venerable Pine
Whose Transformation Size
Would titillate most Everyone’s
Refocused Spellbound Eyes.
By Emily Dickinson:
An Antiquated Tree
Is cherished of the Crow
Because that Junior Foliage is disrespectful now
To venerable Birds
Whose Corporation Coat
Would decorate Oblivion's
Pictured below: Photos from the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC.