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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Poem Analysis,Subject Summarisation And Explanation : 'On Killing A Tree' by Gieve Patel

The first poem in the Class XII WBCHSE English B syllabus is 'On Killing A Tree' written by the popular Indian poet Gieve Patel.The poem has a casual tone and is very narrative in nature.Patel is a practising physician hailing from Mumbai and that factual approach perhaps corresponds to this.The poem is a general must read for absolutely everyone.

Read on to find the complete analysis of the poem.

On Killing A Tree

(Credit : Source)

It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leperous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

The root is to be pulled out -
Out of the anchoring earth; 
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out - snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

Poem Analysis,Summarisation And Explanation

The poem,has been written in free verse as can be easily noticed.The poem,is also very conversational,written in a narrative style The journey begins with a declarative "It takes much time to kill a tree" and then goes on to strike the reader/listener at the brutality of the incident many a times.

'The jab of a knife' is something that readily expresses a cruel happening,something that reproduces fear and despair and the probability of something painful happening ; more of the murder of a human being.Without using a literal metaphor,the poet uses this to hint us of how very brutal the incident is and how unaffected we remain to its happening.
The poet has very carefully arranged the words so as to you can almost visualise the growth of the sapling,then a plant and then a tree.The motion can be so easily felt in the words.The rise of the tree is considered to be quite mysterious and the explanation is little but impacts the reader - the vision lasts.

The narration goes on explaining the torment in every step it takes.The reader is constantly exposed to the fact that something is being hit,is being cut,is being forced,roped,tied,hurt,suffocated and murdered.The soul tries to thrive - so hacking and chopping aren't working anymore.They are destroying the source,the origin - the mysterious connection it has had with the earth.
Then the corpse of the tree is left in the scorching Sun,so it dies little by little the life is soaked out of it.Its lifeless body hardens.The scene is pathetic and throughout the poem,the breathless disorder this creates to the reader's mind will have to be termed influential.This is one of those poems you cannot deny the presence of,you have to accept that the incident happened,happens and the poem is the doctrine that is proof to it,the poet being both the witness and the reporter and the reader herself/himself being the judge.
There is this vaccant gap that stays,that allows us to think and rethink of the subject matter of the poem.All in all,this is a remarkable work and a genuine,meaningful,factual-yet-poetic read.

Special Credit : 'Mindscapes : Higher Secondary English Selections' Printed by Orient Blackswan on behalf of West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE).

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