All posts tagged: Lowell’s poem

The meaning of trees in a warming world

The meaning of trees in a warming world

This is an edition of Time-Travel Thursdays, a journey through The Atlantic’s archives to contextualize the present and surface delightful treasures. Sign up here. Trees can seem like timeless beings. Many a giant sequoia has racked up three millennia on this Earth. A pine in California’s White Mountains is estimated to be nearly 5,000 years old. A colony of aspens in Utah may well have originated during the Stone Age, and to this day, its leaves glitter gold in the autumn sun. A tree’s life span, undisturbed by axe or fire, is utterly divorced from the scales on which human affairs operate. And yet, throughout history, people have seen themselves reflected in trees. One of those people was James Russell Lowell, a poet who served as The Atlantic’s first-ever editor. “I care not how men trace their ancestry / To ape or Adam; let them please their whim; / But I in June am midway to believe / A tree among my far progenitors,” Lowell wrote in The Atlantic’s June 1868 issue. He even suggests …