Good Timber

The quote above, from the late entrepreneur J. Willard Marriott, is actually a paraphrasing of a line from a poem written in the early 1900’s by Douglas Malloch, editor of an obscure Chicago trade-paper called “American Lumberman”.
Malloch’s poem became known as the “Lumberman’s Poet”.

“The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.”

Featured Image: Photo 121660431 © Chernishev Maksim –

Putting common injustices and inequalities to one side for the moment, Malloch seems to be expressing what seemed for him a universal truth. That adversity, struggle and hard work makes you a stronger person, a “King” or “Queen” of “the Forest”. He seems to be saying that those who truly strive will eventually “hold counsel with the stars”.

Does this resonate with you? What hard lessons have you had to learn in your life, but gave you much needed wisdom when you really needed it later on?

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