Study Guide

Some Trees You and I

By John Ashbery

You and I

Well of course we have to talk about the actual relationship, right? The "you and I" that we see is at the heart of the poem (no corny pun intended). The speaker's not just worried about "some trees." He's more interested in thinking about his love and trying to experience that relationship in the best way he can. But it's not easy, considering that neither the speaker nor reader has any real answers by the end of the poem.

  • Lines 2-3: Here "speech [is] a still performance," meaning that there's something artificial about it, maybe even inauthentic. But isn't the beginning of every relationship a little bit like that? We tend to say and do things in a way that's not entirely honest. After all, we don't want our love running off with someone else, right? Sometimes we have to impress first. And it's no coincidence that "still performance" occurs at the very beginning of the poem—new relationships, new performances.
  • Lines 7-8: The "you and I" has something in common with the trees. They're there just like the trees are there. We have no need to search for meanings that don't exist. Just dig the experience of… experience.
  • Lines 9-11: And that's cool. No need to fret about meanings because "their being there means something," even if we don't know what that something is. It's better to enjoy the moment than dig for meanings and create a bunch of performed noise (i.e., words).
  • Lines 11-12: After all there's hope: "soon / We may love, touch explain." There's no need to rush things. Meanings show up when they're supposed to. And those lines also tell us that there's work to be done in this relationship. Things aren't perfect just yet, but in time maybe they will be.
  • Line 13: Even though they seem to have a quiet little morning meeting, we're reminded that they're still "surrounded." Again, nothing can ever truly stand alone. There's got to be an understanding of the outside world too.

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