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Eulogy for a God Quad tree

Arnav Dutt | Monday, April 23, 2012

I read a patch of God Quad, where the earth

Had scratched a little poem to mark the spot

Where just two weeks ago a mighty oak

Or poplar trunk aspired heavenward,

With leafy arms uplifted, as in prayer.

I’d seen the giant stump just days before

It too was moved (or removed) from the spot

Where some forefather of this school once thought

A tree belonged. Indeed it was just one

Of a line of leafy tow’rs that led the way

Up God Quad to the hallowed Golden Dome,

And one of two that were chopped down that day.

It’s funny how it only takes a day

Or two at most to cut down and remove

A tree. For, after all, it takes trees years

To attain statures sufficient to obscure

Administration buildings. Surely that

Is why they cut it down. Or am I wrong

To think it cast a shadow on the Dome,

To think that’s why the fall arrived

In spring this year? (And would that be so strange?

The seasons – winter most of all – forgot

To be themselves this year.)

But I digress:

This tree, whose rings appeared not overnight,

Would not have been surprised. For many years

It stood there, growing, taking it all in,

Providing shade for men like Sorin and Zahm

And Hesburgh and Malloy and Jenkins too;

It knew them all – and youth and old age too,

The changing of the seasons, life and death,

The purpose of tradition; everything

That we’re too young to know.

But now it’s gone,

And on the patched-up patch of earth

Where once it stood, I read (or, rather, thought):

That only God’s empowered to make a tree.

And as I read this, I, so long

A worshipper of nature came to see

That I had spent too long turning new leaves

(Perhaps I’m missing forests for this tree)

Forgetting how great it feels to be alive.

I’ve lived near Notre Dame my entire life:

Three years on campus, and seventeen nearby.

A lifetime in the shadow of the Dome

And it’s been fine. Although I sometimes feel

A little like a fixed point. Friends will come

And friends will go, but I’ll ever reside

But minutes from my home away from home.

One consequence of this is that I’ve made

Th’ acquaintance of the other reference points

That one can read about in tourist books

About South Bend. The Dome has always been

A light in times of darkness. The down-town,

For all its strange mutations, too has been

A place that I can count on. But alas,

Like anyone who lives and loves, I’ve lost.

This spring – autumnal, terminal – will mark

The end for yellow-bricked St. Joseph’s High,

The graduation of so many friends,

The retirement of others. By and by

I’ll learn to accept the changing of the guard,

To turn another leaf without regret

Or melancholy. Yes, I’ll move on too.

One day even the Golden Dome will fall

And leave the forest ’round it wondering: “why?”

Arnav Dutt can be reached at

[email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.