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 er født i 1969 i Oslo.Hun debuterte med diktsamlingen Riv ruskende rytmer i 1994, som hun fikk Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris for. Hun har studert filosofi og juss, og bor i Oslo. For mer informasjon, se Gyldendals forfatterside.

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