Study Guide

Some Trees Isolation

By John Ashbery

Isolation

No matter how you cut it, isolation is part of the whole messy process of understanding the world and your place in it. In "Some Trees," it's an even trickier process because nothing is spelled out for us and, just when we think we understand, the speaker throws another wrench in the whole thing. Thanks bunches, pal. And yet, the world (and the poem) still works with a sort of harmony that tells us that, even in isolation, nothing and no one is ever by itself. So we've got that going for us…

Questions About Isolation

  1. How is the speaker (and the trees) portrayed as being both isolated and yet still part of a larger world?
  2. Does the speaker sound as if he's suffering because of his isolation? Why or why not?
  3. How might the speaker overcome his isolation? Is it even possible? Why or why not?

Chew on This

We're all performers at times, so maybe we're the ones who are isolating ourselves. Think about it, gang.

With all that "reticence," we can't expect to know each other or ourselves all that well. Don't sweat it, though—let it be.

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