The Copper Beech

By Marie Howe b. 1950 Marie Howe
Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like a dress,

with limbs low enough for me to enter it
and climb the crooked ladder to where

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.

One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell
darkening the sidewalk.

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches,
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,

watching it happen without it happening to me.

Reprinted from What the Living Do, W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright © by Marie Howe.

Source: What the Living Do (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1997)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Marie Howe b. 1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Free Verse

 Marie  Howe


Born in Rochester, New York, Marie Howe attended Sacred Heart Convent School and the University of Windsor. She earned an MFA from Columbia University, where she studied with Stanley Kunitz, whom she refers to as “my true teacher.”

Her first collection, The Good Thief (1988), was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Margaret Atwood, who praised Howe’s “poems of obsession that transcend their own dark roots.” In that . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Marie Howe

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Nature, Trees & Flowers, Philosophy

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Alliteration, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.