My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the leaping sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering weed-winding bank.
O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew—
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being só slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc únselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene,
Sweet especial rural scene.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Binsey Poplars, felled 1879"
They just chopped down my favorite tree on campus. The comose fig. Last year, as I experienced my first autumn without fall--no orange-red-yellow leaves to fall from the trees and cover the ground in a satisfyingly crunchy layer--the comose fig dropped all of its orange fruits, leaving a blanket of orange underneath its considerable canopy. I was thrilled, and somehow comforted. Even without the bright orange fruits, it was a grand old tree, almost a hundred years old, with a beautiful and distinctive trunk shape. It was the only one of its kind on campus, and it graciously shaded a portion of my mostly hot and sunny walk to school.
Last spring there was a petition going around to save it from the chopping block, but it seems building development won out. The campus is uglier for it. One might think that a college campus in Hawaii would be guaranteed to be gorgeous. But this one of the uglier campuses I've seen, mainly because most of the buildings are hideous; the campus's main redeeming features are the scattered tropical trees. The more they chop down trees in favor of their ugly buildings, the worse the campus gets.
I'm especially kicking myself because I had thought about taking a photo of the tree last week. It was finally at its peak fruiting season again, saturating its branches with orange figs. If only I'd known it would be gone this week. So this is someone else's picture of it. You can see the orange fruits on the ground. It would have been nice to have a photo of it looking up at the tons of little orange balls in the canopy. A sad opportunity missed. After-comers cannot guess the beauty been. And hopefully I won't forget.