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Ode to Wood
David Budbill


Too long have I not sung the praises
          of our hardwood trees,
felled, cut, stacked, dried, and hauled
          to the house and woodshed,
then split and brought inside all winter long
          to put inside our woodstove,
to burn, to keep us warm. This wood
          that grows less than half a mile
from our house, these trees
          that grow faster than I
can cut them down,
          always making more
than we can use.

Oh, finally I sing the praises of wood.
          Homegrown and handy, abundant,
convenient, cheap, the growth of these hills
          right here at home.

Finally now, I sing the praises
          of our hardwood trees.

From Happy Life (Copper Canyon Press, 2011).
Used by permission of the publisher.



Photo by Lois Eby

David Budbill (1940 - 2016) was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a streetcar driver and a minister's daughter. He is the author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, dozens of essays, and the libretto for an opera. A one-time commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered, David received numerous awards in the course of his career. Learn more about him at



Post New Comment:
This afternoon Ted and I did wood. He got it from where it's stored, brought it over to the house via wheelbarrow, and I donned the marvellous Lee Valley (only apparently they don't have them anymore) wood-carrying apron and did the up/down stairs thing, usually 7 good chunks at a time, until both the chunk box and the log stack area were full again. Ted subscribes to YDP, sends me most of them, but this one really speaks to both of us. I wish the author was still alive so I could tell him.
Posted 12/10/2019 07:24 PM
His words touch those of us who burn or have burned wood in our stoves.
Posted 12/10/2019 09:08 AM
michael escoubas:
I always appreciate the simple clarity of David's poems--excellent post Jayne.
Posted 12/10/2019 08:08 AM
Larry Schug:
I read this poem with my wood stove emitting its unique, wonderful gift of recycled sunlight. I share these sentiments and appreciate the reminder to be grateful for the gifts of nature on which we depend.
Posted 12/10/2019 07:21 AM

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