A Paris Review appreciation of "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees"
The Paris Review
T. S. Eliot’s "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees"
By Casey N. Cep
December 18, 2013
The cultivation in the poem’s title is not really of trees, but of persons. Joy is born naturally, but it requires tending if it is to last.
If our senescence is to be anything like our infancy, then it will require cultivating a sense of wonder. In appealing to first and lasts, Eliot is, as in the rest of his poetry, at the edge of despair; only in "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees," he stands firmly on the side of joy. I love the poem because he invites us to join him, to look again for enchantment and wonder in our lives, to stare at Christmas trees until the electric lights twinkle like stars.