Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The dominant theme in “Fir Trees” is nature. The poem offers a conception of nature that smacks of folklore or fairy tale in that the natural world is given supernatural powers. The fantasy Apollinaire has created suggests that fir trees, representatives of nature, embody all the various qualities and mysteries of the universe, both natural and supernatural. They have in common with man the joys, sorrows, and pains of experience. Unlike man, however, they are in touch with planes of existence beyond the reach and knowledge of human beings.

The “humanity” of nature pervades the entire poem. Seeing trees and men as brothers in the world delightfully enriches and expands one’s experience of life. By offering visions of trees saluting their fallen brothers or singing carols, the poem helps expand one’s focus from a narrow preoccupation with the trivialities of the human world to include the broader concerns of nature in general. This expanded vision offers a new perspective to otherwise human-centered priorities. The poem’s personification of the trees also offers a new perspective on the way humans see themselves. The absurdity of envisioning trees as “aged spinsters” or as old men whose bones (branches) creak in the rain adds whimsy to the way one views one’s own aging body and mind.

In one sense, the trees seem to share the concerns of the human world, but in another sense, they belong to a mysterious world beyond human...

(The entire section is 514 words.)