Trees in the Arts

Alumnae Garden

 

 

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood …” Robert Frost, who made annual visits to Agnes Scott from 1945 to 1962, wrote this familiar verse. The sculpture in the Alumnae Garden shows him composing a poem. Trees feature prominently in Frost’s work, especially apple trees like the ones that he and his son planted on their New England farm. In his well-known poem “After Apple Picking” (1915), Frost wrote, “I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend. / And I keep hearing from the cellar bin / The rumbling sound / Of load on load of apples coming in.”

At Agnes Scott, however, Frost will have seen only ornamental crabapples (Malus sp.), specimens of which once grew on either side of the entrance to the nearby Anna I. Young Alumnae House. Like orchard apples, crabapples are angiosperms, i.e. flowering trees that bear fruit containing seeds. By contrast, other species, like pines, are gymnosperms (“naked seed” trees). What accounts for the evolution of fruit trees? Seed dispersal, of course, after animals eat the fruit.

Trees of all kinds have inspired countless artists, from the prehistoric era to the present. One of our alumnae, poet Nathalie F. Anderson, concludes her poem “The Slaking” (2000) with this unforgettable image: “so much light spilling / over the lip of the world, it slakes, it dazzles, / it splashes profligate into the trees.”