You are on page 1of 6


Ben Lee
Eng 10

“A Tr ee te lli ng of Or pheu s”

About The Author

Denise Levertov was born 1923 in Essex England. She was taught by her mom
at home. Her dad was from Russia who became a Anglican minister. She worked as a
nurse during the WWII and few years later, she moved to the United States to become a
citizen in 1955. After she became a citizen, she published 2 essay books and 112 books
of poems. She writes bout the important social issues.

About the Selection

This poem is about the Greek myth of Orpheus. The author, Denise Levertov
wrote this poem as an allusion to Greek myth of Orpheus.


How do you feel when you read an excellent book or listen to your favorite
music? Has you attention ever been captured by a beautiful paining or photograph? Why
are visual arts, music, and literature enjoyable and memorable for people? In what why
might these things expand a person’s mind? Respond to these questions in your journal.

I feel very happy when I listen to my favorite music. I like the sounds of singers
making music. When I listen to the music I feel like I am living in the perfect world.
Unfortunately books do not do the same thing for me. Maybe that is because have not
yet read a book that makes me really happy. I would rather watch the movie than read
the book. The movies are so beautiful because you can see the way the picture looks. It
is so perfect that I love it. I don’t have to wonder what the characters look like because
they are right there in front of me. I don’t know if these things would expand a person’s
mind or not but I like to watch movies. I really liked the movies about the Lord of the
Rings. The fighting scenes were really amazing to see. The armies were huge and the
fights were really cool to see. I don’t know if these things expanded my mind but I
really liked them.
Ben Lee
Eng 10

Responding to the Selection

1. Where was the tree when it first saw Orpheus? Does the tree stay in one place?
What does it do? How does Orpheus treat the tree when he witnesses the tree’s

A: The tree was out on the pasture slope, beyond the forest. Orpheus is very
kind to the tree and tells the tree stories.

2. Name the subjects of the songs of Orpheus

A: He told of a dream of the man, war, and of the passions, griefs.

3. How does the tree describe Orpheus? Why might the tree describe him in this
way? What is the ripple that the tree hears in line 27?

A: Te tree describes Orpheus like he is a tree. Maybe the tree only thinks
everybody is like a tree. The ripples that the tree hears are the music that
Orpheus is playing.

4. How has music changed the tree? Why has it had this effect? How might the
songs of Orpheus have made the tree deeply alert? How do lines 69-*71 shows
that how much the tree has learned about life?

A: The tree has been changed by the music. The music made the tree want to
follow Orpheus, so that he could hear more music. Lines 698-71 shows that
how the tree remembers being a seed, a fern in a swamp and coal.

5. What might this poem be saying about art in general and its mind-expanding
effects? Support your response with specific examples from the poem.

A: This poem might be saying that art in general art is beautiful and makes
people do creative things. The trees pull their roots from the ground and follow
Orpheus when he is playing music. They want to continue listening to the music
because it is beautiful.
Ben Lee
Eng 10

Und erstandi ng Lite rature

1. Structu re . The st ructu re is the arrangement of materials in a literary work.
The structure of this poem often reflects the poem’s content. Notice how some
of the lines are fairly close together and long, and some of the lines are broken
apart and short. What is happening to the tree when the writer uses short line?
How does the structure help emphasize what the tree is going thorough at
different times throughout the poem?
A: When the writer uses short line, the tree is feeling very emotional. The
short lines are used to make the tree seem more emotional.

2. Pers on ific ati on . Pe rso nifi ca tio n is a figure of speech in which an idea,
animal, or thing I described as if it were a person. The tree in this poem is
given thoughts, ideas, and feelings as if it were a person. The beginning of the
poem gives an interesting example of a kind of “reverse” personification. What
is it?

A: At the beginning of the poem, the tree compares Orpheus, the human being
to a tree.

3. Allu sio n. An al lusi on is a figure of speech in which a reference is made to a
person, event, object, or work from history or literature. Where at the end of
the poem are specific allusions to the story of Orpheus? List lines that refer to
events described in the introduction to this selection.

A: At the end of the poem, the tree says that Orpheus made his earth journey
and lost what he sought. Orpheus was felled and cut for fire wood. It is also
said that his head still singing and was swept out to the sea.

Responding in Wr iting

Pers on al Ess ay . Write a brief essay in which you describe a particular work
of visual art, music, or literature and how it has affected you. Maybe you have just read
a book or heard a song that you can’t forget. Perhaps you were moved by a movie,
painting, or photograph. In your essay, try to express to a reader what was special
Ben Lee
Eng 10

about this work.
Ben Lee
Eng 10

I have not really heard any music or read any books that have affected me that
much. Maybe that is because I have not read the right book, seen a really amazing
picture or read an amazing book. One thing that I did really enjoy though was the movie
Lord of the Rings. It is a particular work of visual art that has really affected me.
The scenes in the movie of the massive armies fighting against each other are
really amazing to see. I was amazed to see all the trees pull themselves out of the
ground when they got so angry about the other tress being killed. I was really shocked
and surprised that a tree could move and be so angry. When I read the poem “Tree
Telling of Orpheus” I thought about the trees fighting in the Lord of the Rings. I think
when trees are really happy or really mad they can move from the ground.
Seeing such large armies fighting one another was really amazing to see. I felt
sad to see so many people and animals getting killed, but I will never forget seeing
those massive battles. When the evil forces were knocking down the doors of the
castles, I was so scared that they would get inside. Indeed, it was a very exciting

Exercise: Irregular Verbs I
Re vise the follow ing sente nces, cor recting the i rregular verb
fo rm s.

Ex. Martina and Jen have rang the school bell already.
Martina and Jen have rung the school bell already.

1. Justine brung his guitar over to my house last night.

A: Justine brought his guitar over to my house last night

2. When Mr. Johnson flied to St. Louis, he brought his wife with him.

A: When Mr. Johnson flew to St. Louis, he brought his wife with him

3. Joey and Maria have swam seven miles each this morning.
Ben Lee
Eng 10

A: Joey and Maria have swum seven miles each this morning.

4. Joaquin blowed the dust off the counter.

A: Joaquin blew the dust off the counter.

5. After Sandy cutted my hair, it looked much better.

A: After Sandy cut my hair, it looked much better.

Related Interests