By John Marin —————————————————– AILANTHUS Please take a moment and think about the Ailanthus. No-one plans it. No-one plants it. No-one waters, Or prunes, Or sprays it, Or gives it plant food or weed killer or even manure. It squeezes between tall buildings, Through sidewalk gratings, And cracks in concrete, And in angles of fences […]
Thank you to Michael B. who wrote to say that Ailanthus shows up in the novel “The Fortress of Solitude” by Jonathan Lethem, a novel about growing up white in a black neighborhood in Brooklyn. Until I can track down a copy of the book for an excerpt, I’ll make do with Michael’s words that […]
The Element of Lavishness: Letters of William Maxwell and Sylvia Townsend Warner, 1938-1978 Maxwell to Warner, March 15, 1940: I have all but one foot out of the office, but continue to work a little each day on manuscripts, and will for another month and a half, with the mornings free to work out my […]
Ailanthus shows up in Don DeLillo’s book Underworld. It is a very bleak chapter, describing two nuns distributing alms in a bombed-out area of the South Bronx filled with abandoned cars, cripples, utter desolation. The landscape and the people who live in it are vividly described through the eyes of the senior nun, Sister Edgar. […]
The great poet TS Eliot uses Ailanthus altissima in his poem “Four Quartets”.Â Here is the opening stanza of the third Quartet, The Dry Salvages: I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river Is a strong brown godsullen, untamed and intractable, Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a […]
These entries are dedicated to chronicling the growth of Ailanthus altissima in cultural consciousness. Simply put, I’m collecting any reference to the tree in art, literature, movies, music, etc. and putting it on the web. I also may include ecology of the tree, but it’s not my principal focus. Why am I doing this? People […]
Little Odessa‘s an older movie (1994) that I just picked up on VCD a little while ago. It’s not a particularly interesting drama, but the setting is. It’s filmed in a part of New York city called Brighton Beach. It’s a decaying industrial sector with a large Russian immigrant population. The climax scene in the […]
My newest project is something of a fan site for an unusual tree, Ailanthus altissima, the Tree-of-heaven.