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“Trees” (1913)

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


OK, on the poetry side, I’ve always found this poem rather lame-ass, because of its Procrustean gallop in iambic pentameter.  The tighter the rhythm, the more limited the range of expression.  That doesn’t forgive lameassity in the word selection. Hmpf.

He’s laid down a far better poem about “The House With Nobody In It,” which could be a great metaphor for the shambles of American Medicine.

Incidentally, I once lived in a house in Cambridge with a broken back.  Some idiot took a major supporting member out of the basement, and the crossbeam that held the house’s weight, cracked.  There was no way to restore that house to suitability.  It had a broken back, and should have condemned, I realized long after I lived in it.  It could have given way and dropped into the basement.  But youth is naive.

Rather than throwing rocks at Mister Kilmer, who was a poet-dude from New Jersey, I’m inspired to swipe a few of his ideas from the poem.

“Poems are made by fools like me/but how does one calculate the value-added of a tree?”

(Allowing for my slapping up some horrifically crippled meter and rhyme and messed-up-just-about-everything that poetry does, has or is for.)

Value-added, which is a consumption tax, is reasonably calculated in Europe on manufactured goods by means of determining the actual unit sale price, minus the actual unit cost of the individual constituent raw products, and calling the result the value added.  Okay.

It works grand for the manufacture of widgets, which are composed of proto-widgets and cast together into something aggregated.  The finished widget is of use to someone – (else the enterprise is futile.)  The house above used to have a value; the dickworth who took out the beam and cracked the member caused material harm, a tortious action, to the owner (which may have been one and the same person.)

How does God make a tree, and what is the value added?  Certainly, the cost of seed or shoot is deducted, as well as any growth-supporting element such as fertilizer and insecticide needed to bring the sprout into sturdy viability.  If it bears forth tasty fruit that can be sold, the value of the crop – minus what tending it needs – can be considered an annual revenue; an interest-equivalent, so to speak.  If it produces $100 a year worth of apples, and the interest rate on money is 1%, then it yields what a $10,000 bond yields.  Therefore, the value of this tree could be stated as $10,000 with general mutual consent of an accountant.

If the tree is swept away in flood, then the capital is ruined; that is a $10,000 loss.  So far, so good.

Wicked capitalists in modern corporations, and even more wicked and stupid Marxists, insist that the value of things are incrementally increased by the execution of labor, productive labor to be exact.  Of course, the orchard owner or his wage-slave go out to inspect the trees, spray them with potions to deter the insects, cut off failing branches and all.  But their actions are not entirely sufficient to make a tree.  Depending on one’s metaphysical predilections, either God or the material universe has added value to the tree spontaneously.  This must be assessed as a value-added; obviously, it is taxable.

The reason that God, the Sun, or the Sun-God are not billed for the VAT is that the process is murky.  Who grew the tree?  The tree itself, with its making chlorophyll; or the light that excited the chlorophyll; or the farts of the neighboring kine that gave the tree luxurious carbon to grow with?

Of course, this analysis sounds absurd and stupid, because it is not being imposed by CMS and Medicare upon the processes of medicine.  The delivery of a baby is a medical process, but who made the baby?  How does one add value to a sperm?  Is “skin-to-skin” contact something that can be assessed a value?  Well yes, says Medicaid.  Yes it may; you can code for it and bill for it.  The entire process, imagines the wicked governmentalists, can be broken down by analysis and analogy into individual movements on the factory floor.  Engagement, of course, is spontaneous; the internal and external rotations, etc., are only billable if guided by the obstetrician, midwife or doula.  The afterbirth must be delivered; any episiotomy or tear should be sutured; what’s the bill for that?

It’s as idiotic to analyze L&D by factory work analysis than it is to bill God for value-added to a tree.  There is a need to draw the curtain, not from ignorance, but from the principles of complex processes – that what is done there is what is to be done.  Otherwise, the resident will be putting in sutures on tips from the new dad, as the old ribald joke offers.

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