"The Trees" as written by and Oscar Rasbach Joyce Kilmer....
There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the Maples want more sunlight
And the Oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade?

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks, just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
Axe,
And saw


Lyrics submitted by crackermcnacca

"The Trees" as written by Oscar Rasbach Joyce Kilmer

Lyrics © JERRY VOGEL MUSIC CO. INC

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The Trees song meanings
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106 Comments

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  • +6
    General CommentThese lyrics are high poetry. The meaning is actually very simple. We are not all equal in every way. Any attempt to artifically create universal equality is ultimately doomed to failure. But no matter how inequitable life becomes, death awaits us all. In the end, we all end up the same.
    Samoanon March 03, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWow, you guys are WAY off. Hmm, where to begin?

    First of all, Dr Rhythm, you have much to learn about Libertarian political ideology. No Libertarian would EVER espouse forced equality among citizens, and certainly not between nations. Libertarian political philosophy is basically centered on the concept of the government staying out of citizens' business economically as well as socially.

    Other than that, you are almost on task, Neil Peart did believe strongly in Libertarian views, however, the song is about Communism, and a fictional dispute between trees represents the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The theme of the song is self-determination, something Peart felt very strongly about after reading some of Ayn Rand's work.

    Many of Rush's songs, especially those written by Peart have anti-communist lyrics; the message is the same in The Trees as well as The Temples of Syrinx, Freewill, and Xanadu.
    nemton February 22, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentSamoan’s got it better than most people. But still off a bit from what I think. Specifically, the part he refers to as how death awaits. Before I sat and read the lyrics, the death idea was what I thought.
    For me, the lines "For they passed a noble law/And the trees are all kept equal/By hatchet, /Axe, /and saw." does not show death as a natural equalizer, as shown by the first line shown (noble law). The only way to make things equal is to cut the best (the oaks here) down to the level of the others. You can only raise people up so far.
    And yet, this is what is happening in America these days - cutting down the superior via standardized testing, race-specific scholarships/grants (none specific to whites, though) from places like LULAC and NAACP.

    About the whole song:
    His sarcastic portrayal of the maples: "the Maples scream `Oppression!` " and the "noble" law, and "And they're quite convinced they're right" as pertaining to the maples, not the oaks.
    I found that you really need to read the lyrics to get the sarcasm, picking up lyrics from his singing leads one to think he takes the position that most every other popular musician of the time.
    It really is a refreshing change compared to everyone else on the "maple's" side.

    Man, that's long.
    hargalatenon March 22, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is about trees
    neeuq1on November 19, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThe maples screams oppresion and ask for equal rights but when your method is violence and taking something by force (hatchet, axe..) then you become what you're fighting or worse.

    It reflects the world today and how they use to solve problems.
    Agoseion February 14, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt is not about racism. You have to remember that Rush was a very libertarian band - this song is about the legal struggle between employees and businesses.

    The Maples are workers, and the Oaks are companies. The "light" is money. The workers are envious of the wealth of of the people who run the companies. They form a union and get the government to pass a law to force the companies to give them higher wages - thus, effectively destroying their employers (by hatchet, axe, and saw - the only way to get more light is by cutting the Oaks down).

    That's basically the real interpretation. Rush's album 2112, for example, is a rock opera version of Ayn Rand's book "Anthem". Ayn Rand was a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist, and would have agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment of this song.

    I do, too.
    Garthnakon June 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just noticed something important about the lyrics today. In the beginning, the maples say the oaks are "just too lofty," implying they realize it's not the oaks' fault they are getting the lion's share of sunlight. After the union is formed, however, sentiment changes to "the oaks are just too greedy" implying the oaks have decided to take the sunlight for themselves. It shows how a dissenting underclass can miss the message entirely.
    nemton September 09, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentomg...i love this song (obviously *pokes username*) anyway, i read somewhere that peart, who wrote the song, thought of it as just being trees, not people, he just saw it as a cartoon and not some big political insight.
    byhatchetaxeandsawon June 30, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationPeart's political views are irrelevant regarding these lyrics, because its about trees arguing.

    That's it.
    tienon June 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think that this song symbolises judgement on what kind of class we are.
    Metaphorically, the oaks symbolise people who are upperclass, and the maples symbolise people who are working/lower class. Neil peart describes the oaks as taking all the sunlight, which I think represents money, the uperclass people get more money just because they are seen as bigger and better.
    He ends the song with 'and the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe and saw.' this shows that, once brought down to the same level, everyone is equal, everyone should have the same rights and not be judged on how much money you earn etc.
    Puckers2811on December 28, 2010   Link

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