Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poetry on a Nail Blog?

Hello, one of my other interests is poetry. If you dislike poetry stop here, otherwise, here is my poem study essay and inspired by poem for The Willow and The Ginkgo. The first poem is the actual poem but everything from there is my own work. The Willow and the Ginkgo is my favorite poem.

The Willow and the Ginkgo

by Eve Merriam

Date of publication and publisher unknown

The willow is like an etching,
Fine-lined against the sky.
Then ginkgo is like a crude sketch,
Hardly worthy to be signed.
The willow’s music is like a soprano,
Delicate and thin.
The ginkgo’s tune is like a chorus
With everyone joining in.

The willow is sleek as a velvet-nosed calf,
The ginkgo is leathery as an old bull.
The willow’s branches are like silken thread;
The ginkgo’s like stubby rough wool.

The willow is like a nymph with streaming hair;
Wherever it grows, there is green and gold and fair.
The willow dips to the water,
Protected and precious, like the king’s favorite daughter.

The ginkgo forces its way through gray concrete;
Like a city child, it grows up in the street.
Thrust against the metal sky,
Somehow it survives and even thrives.
My eyes feast upon the willow,
But my heart goes to the ginkgo.


This poem means so much to me; it’s shown me beauty in the ugly as well as the fundamental differences that make us who we are. It does not parade the Willow’s beauty in a way that makes the Willow seem ‘above’ the Ginkgo, no, it puts them both at the same platform. The Willow has beauty, but, the Ginkgo has durability as well as personality. This poem makes for a fantastic read that will open your eyes to the Ginkgo’s journey of self doubt and discovery.

In the poem, the Willow is only a pretty picture; the Ginkgo’s differences lead it to be a more important character in the poem. From the start it is clear, the Willow is only there to compare, it is the Ginkgo who is the main subject. Eve Merriam is excellent at evoking emotion from the reader; you feel the Ginkgo’s upbringing, maybe as an abused child lost in the foster care system while the Willow is “the king’s favorite daughter”. Throughout the entire piece a deep sense of empathy for the Ginkgo’s struggle is released.

I find this poem not to be about two plants, but, instead, two people. The Willow is the pure all-American blond, delicate and fair while the Ginkgo is a shadow, a mere nothing compared to the stunning Willow. I have been the Ginkgo, my best friend from when I was little always overshadowed me in beauty, from her I learned to be tough and MAKE people take notice otherwise I’d end up overlooked, forgotten. It was during that time period that I began reading and writing poetry, she had her beauty and I had my poetry. I watched her become nothing more than a pretty face, unable to carry out a conversation on any subject that didn’t exude ‘superficial’ to passer-bys. This was, and still is, a struggle for me but; the main thing I’ve taken away from that experience was the knowledge that true friends will never try to outshine you, there can be more than one star, and therefore, silly competition between supposed friends is pointless and potentially harmful to all involved. I’ve also learned that being the Ginkgo isn’t so bad; it teaches you to be a survivor, to adapt. It’s taken a while to get there, but now I’m okay with my role as the Ginkgo; one day I may even learn to love it. I’ve struggled to get where I am today but, now, I’m happy.

The last two lines of the poem always hit me; I can even recite them from memory,

“My eyes feast upon the willow,
But my heart goes to the ginkgo.”

To me this is good and bad, those two simple lines direct our sympathy towards the ‘correct’ vessel, but, also make it seem ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ to be the Ginkgo, as if that isn’t a part of ourselves that we should be comfortable with. I don’t believe that there is any reason to pity the Ginkgo providing that the Ginkgo is fine being just that, a Ginkgo. As long as the Ginkgo does not try to outshine the Willow’s beauty I believe that in most cases the two can co-exist.

For these reasons, these debates, I find the poem The Willow and the Ginkgo fascinating. Though I am dissatisfied by the ending I still find that this is a poem that I reflect on each time I read it. I’ve read many poems but this is the only one I have written down on the journal that follows me, documenting any inspiration I find; for it’s originality and it’s relation to my life I have found this to be my favorite poem. Due to this poem I am able to say; I am Allya, and, I am the Ginkgo.


I am the Ginkgo

By Allya

An interpretation of The Willow and the Ginkgo, by Eve Merriam

I do my best, I survive; I twist and bend, craning to reach the far-off light.

I am not a drawing made of thin etches; I am a charcoal sketch, drawn before your eyes by an artist off the street, a blur of grey smears, undefined lines.

I am bold, never shy.

If you expect grace from me you will be disappointed.

I have flaws and am not god-like in my perfection, because, I am not perfect.

I am not the elegant cashmere sweater; I am function over design, performance over attractiveness.

My voice is rich and hearty, gospel; not the soft pure soloist.

I am not shiny designer stilettos, carefully stored, never worn for fear of damage; no, I am the sneakers roughly tossed into a bin during the few hours not worn.

I am not hidden, protected from my mistakes, instead, I take them and learn; redefine right from wrong.

I am deeply rooted; it would take more than a caressing breeze to shake me.

I don’t live happily-ever after; I write my own ending and author my own story.

I see the willow for its beauty but; I am not the willow, nor do I wish to be.

I am the Ginkgo, nothing more, nothing less.


  1. Fair coloring is not an indication of beauty, and grace is not the measure of your worth. She is not as pretty as you believe her to be. You may not yet acknowledge it, but you are beautiful. Do not let anyone make you think otherwise.

  2. Your poem really touched me. It's a very truthful and personal writing. I could hear your voice in my mind. I can feel your strength in my heart.


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