Karl Shapiro

(10 November 1913 – 14 May 2000 / Baltimore, Maryland)

The Olive Tree - Poem by Karl Shapiro

Save for a lusterless honing-stone of moon
The sky stretches its flawless canopy
Blue as the blue silk of the Jewish flag
Over the valley and out to sea.
It is bluest just above the olive tree.
You cannot find in twisted Italy
So straight a one; it stands not on a crag,
Is not humpbacked with bearing in scored stone,
But perfectly erect in my front yard,
Oblivious of its fame. The fruit is hard,
Multitudinous, acid, tight on the stem;
The leaves ride boat-like in the brimming sun,
Going nowhere and scooping up the light.
It is the silver tree, the holy tree,
Tree of all attributes.

Now on the lawn
The olives fall by thousands, and I delight
To shed my tennis shoes and walk on them,
Pressing them coldly into the deep grass,
In love and reverence for the total loss.


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Read poems about / on: tree, loss, silver, moon, sea, sky, sun, light



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, December 24, 2014


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