Harper’s Magazine recently published excerpts from Henry David Thoreau’s journals, in which he described trees in lines of metaphor:
A great green feather stuck in the ground
A harp upon which the wind makes music
A traveler bending to the storm
Old citizens of the town
An athlete that shows its well-developed muscles
Your turn, dear writers. Try your hand at describing a tree using a metaphor. In other words, compare the tree to something (an object, a feeling, a place, a sound) to which it is not literally applicable, in order to give the reader a richer understanding of the tree you are describing.
The point of metaphor is finding a fresh way to describe something that's been written about a million times before. Suddenly, as the reader, that isn’t just another tree in the woods, but a particular tree, living and unique. Try going outside and finding a tree to describe—observe the specific shapes, colors, and textures of the tree and its leaves, blossoms and branches. Consider what sound this tree makes in the wind, the way it smells, how its foliage feels between your fingers. Now play with metaphors until you hit on one that seems right, offering this tree to your readers in words they've never before heard. Feel free to include just a line or two of description, or utilize metaphor throughout a full piece—as AJNair
do in these striking poems.
(More of Thoreau’s metaphors can be found in the Harper’s article “Into the Woods,” or in Richard Higgins book
Thoreau and the Language of Trees.)