Can Trees File Suit?*

Foto: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag
Foto: Gyldendal Norsk Forlag


By Cathrine Grøndahl (translated from Norwegian by Roger Greenwald)


Can trees file suit? Trees can’t file anywhere

Nature encloses them in laws, which others are the keepers of

It’s like talking to a wall

If the walls had ears. Lay your ear against the wall and listen:

The cry in the forest, the rain for days on end, the tree that keeps falling

One day a door may open in the law, and in goes a whole forest

and raises hill after hill of cases. Listen:

We indict all nation states. We stand in the tragedy of the commons

and you don’t notice. The poisons take effect everywhere

The nations dole them out in quotas to the whole world. They always land

here, and you don’t detect it. We’re losing our breath in the Amazon,

leaf by leaf, overdosing in the Black Forest, and in Pasvik we’re dying

of the nickel we’re drinking from the Kola Peninsula

We are the cry in the forest, the rain for days on end, the tree that keeps

falling. Lie down under a tree. Look:




* Based on “Should Trees Have Standing” (1972), by Christopher Stone, a key article in environmental law.


// has for a while collaborated with Free Word and Weather Stations. Now we are about to enlarge our partnership between FW and NWCC. In the weeks to come we will present translations of five Norwegian poems from our homepage at Free Words website under the banner «On the Road to Paris». You can read more about the collaboration between Free Word and NWCC here. Cathrine Grøndahls poem Can Trees File Suit? opens this little series. The poem is translated by Roger Greenwald.


Cathrine Grøndahl (born 4 May 1969) is a Norwegian poet. She made her literary début in 1993 with the poetry collection Riv ruskende rytmer, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris. Among her other poetry collections are I klem mellom natt og dag from 1996, Det har ingenting med kjærlighet å gjøre from 1998, and Lovsang from 2003.[1]

Gyldendals forfatterside.

Roger Greenwald grew up in New York and lives in Toronto. He has published two books of poems, Connecting Flight and Slow Mountain Train, as well as many volumes of poetry translated from Scandinavian languages (from Norwegian: Rolf Jacobsen, Tarjei Vesaas, Paal-Helge Haugen).

Blogg på

opp ↑