Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Man Who Planted Trees

If there's one poem that I would love to sing better, it's Trees by Alfred Joyce Kilmer ( 1886 -1918)

I came across this lovely piece of poem when I used to do more singing and taking lessons. Why this piece? What's the pull factor when you can see trees everyone, you might argue.

Singing this song, the beauty of trees overcome me. Nature and God inNature surround me and there I go, gazing at trees, in wonderment.

Here goes: Trees

I think that I shall never see /A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest/Against the sweet earth's 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

That shared, the wonder of trees is not over yet. An article I wrote was published in The GreenFingers newsletter of The Selangor And Federal Gardening Society.

Friends, I'd like to introduce you to Elzeard Bouffier, The Man Who Planted Trees.

The story goes that somewhere in deepest Provence, France, a shepherd, Elzeard Bouffier put his heart and soul into planting trees - 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. After the deaths of his wife and son, single-handed, with only his dog as a companion, he cultivated a forest over 4 decades. What had been sparsely populated land, where nothing new except wild lavender, Bouffier transformed desolate landscape into a valley akin to the Garden of Eden.

On 11 Oct, 2008, I was in The Actors Studio in Bangsar Shopping Complex among many parents and excited kids. I was with the Sunshine ladies who volunteer their help at Selangor Cheshire Home and we were on a special outing with the disabled residents of the Home. All of us waited eagerly for the performance of 'The Man Who Planted Trees'.

Soon the 'green' message became clear. Undeterred by 2 World Wars, Bouffier kept planting , planting and more planting - oak, birch, beech ... tending the same with no thought of personal gain. He never faltered though he lost some trees to rodents and unpredictable conditions.

Image from the web

The trees grew and wondrous things occurred. Water flowed in the brooks that had been dry for many years. Life blossomed and the harsh barren land changed drastically.

Image from the web

How the audience, most of all, the children, reacted to the whistling wind, the wafting scents of the lavender, the rain mist, the birds twittering and flying above our heads on fishing rods. Truly, it was a multisensory treat.

The children loved the stick-loving puppet dog and warmed up to every antic of his. I suspect, if they could take him home, he would be THE prize, unanimously claimed!

Winner of the Total Theatre 2008 for Story Theatre

The show had its touching and sad moments too. Bouffier lived to a ripe age of 84 and died in a hospice in Banon. Few knew him as the hand and soul behind this environmental miracle.

I left the theatre warmed in my heart by the impact of this simple fabulous eco tale which reached out to the children and adults. As author, Jean Giono states, the moral message of the story is 'to make people love the trees' or more precisely, 'to make people love planting trees'.

This message is so relevant in today's world where issues of deforestation and destruction of the natural environment crop up with an alarming and increasing frequency.

The innovative staging of this eco message must imprint a certain degree of awareness and inspiration among the young and old and it further inspires those of us who are already committed to finding more ways to engage the young in spreading the 'green' message.

Let's connect with the world around us. GO GREEN!


  1. what lovely puppets ! and i totally agree with you..the world, well..all of us should go green!

  2. I love those puppets! That sounds like a wonderful production.

  3. What a great story! Imagine if we planted a 100 trees in the morning and 100 every afternoon? Elzeard was a smart shepherd!

  4. Ow, what a wonderful GREEN message! I hope that you don't mind, if I will link to your post here after doing my rounds through the Blogosphere. This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful weekend :)

  5. We try to be green as much as we can! Great message!
    I love that Trees poem!

  6. Hi everyone! Selamat Pagi! ('good morning', in Malay).
    What a great start to read all your green messages. Love them ALL.
    My Castle in Spain, Adrienne, the puppets are adorable.
    Rosidah, sure, I'd be delighted. Thank you for helping to spread the message. Let's GO GREEN, everyone!

  7. Enjoyed this post. :) the first photo is so interesting and so catching.

  8. Great post. I love the pics and the Trees poem.

  9. I first read about Elzeard in an anthology of stories, plays and poems I have called "Trees: A Celebration", and it moved and inspired me so much.

    What a great lesson for children and adults alike! As long as we keep thinking "someone should do this", no-one will ever get it done. Once you assume that responsibility yourself, everything changes. The power to change the world lies in our hands.

    I love the dog puppet too! When I first saw it in the papers, I yelled to myself: "I want that doggie!" He is such a happy chappie!

    I really enjoyed this post. We are on the same wavelength where environmental education and conservation is concerned.

  10. I see now your new post :(
    Sorry I'am late because I have some troubles with blogger or internet :(
    But now I'am here :) HEHE

    Its a lovely post ^_^
    The poem is FANTASTIC,I love poems :))
    The pictures from the internet are realy funny:)
    I always search looking for fun :))
    Many greetz ANYA :)

  11. One of my fave poems also!

  12. Hi everyone, the weekend's here. Enjoy!

    Anya,me too. Not to worry. The internet has been playing up a lot. Everything's going so slow.
    Tara, thanks for popping in.
    Alice, this poem has many followers. Great!

  13. hi sunshine girl, thanks for visiting my blog! i love the willow pattern story so! beautiful poem!

  14. I really love this poem, it conveys such an important message, that one should not neglect trees as they are really essential to us. I would have loved to watch this play in a theatre. ;)

  15. What a lovely poem. I remember it from my youth (long, long time ago), it was a favorite of mine. Thank you for my walk down memory lane. You have a very uplifting blog, I enjoy checking in from time to time. Keep smiling.
    Rebecca Frank

  16. Hi Ruthie, Morinn, thanks for visitng.
    Rebecca, I really appreciate your kind words. I find your work so inspiring too as a SoldiersAngel. Friends, do check out : http://www.soldiersangels.com

  17. Hi Sunshine Girl, good post, great green message.
    By the way, thanks for visiting my blog

  18. really nice thought may be your sonwn seed in a child may give him some brain to protect a tree when he grow up

  19. Hi lifeinparkavenue
    Glad the green message is well received. Thanks.

    Sudarshan Bengani, thanks for visiting. yes, Let's nurture the children and teach them and they'll know what to do.

  20. I agree with you. Go green now and we should educate the youngs on the importance of it. It's easier said than done but one step at a time.


  21. Timothy,thanks for visiting. You're right there too.
    I'm not a big eater but the food on your blog tempts my palate!!

  22. That's one of my favourite poems. The world was a better place back then when people had more respect for the environment. Let's all be carbon neutral.

    Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Hope you're enjoying the weekend. Come back tomorrow for more of Norwich!

    A Pinay In EnglandYour Love CoachI, Woman

  23. Good morning
    Chris, thank you for the prayers.
    Joy, happy to visit. Will be back for more of Norwich!

  24. That is a wonderful package you put together for all of us. Thank you for the inspiration.

    I love that poem, too.

  25. I have never heard of this story about Bouffier! That's fascinating! I'm going to look that up! It reminds me of the story of Johnny Appleseed too! Happy Tuesday!

  26. HI Patty
    Glad you enjoyed it.
    Marie Reed, yes Johnny Appleseed rings a bell too. thanks for visiting.


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