Summary of Poem On Killing a Tree by Gieve Patel Beehive Class 9

Introduction of On Killing a Tree

In this poem, the poet symbolizes a deep-rooted evil. He says that a tree can‘t be killed out just by hacking and chopping it. To put it to a permanent end, it should be uprooted entirely and left out to wither in the sun. In the same way, the social evil can‘t be put out just by criticising them. The society should root them up to die forever.

Summary of On Killing a Tree


The poem "On Killing a Tree" by Gieve Patel presents the sturdiness of a fully grown tree, strengthened by nourishment from the earth, the sun and the air. The poem conveys the message that trees are living beings just like any other form of life.

The poem compares the process of cutting down trees to committing an act of murder. The poet presents this view in an ironic and sarcastic tone. The pain experienced by trees while being killed dominates the mood of the poem. The poem opens with the statement that killing a tree takes a lot of time. It is not easy to kill a deep rooted tree. It takes much time to kill it. A tree is too strong to be killed by a simple attack of a knife. It has grown slowly consuming the earth, feeding upon its crust, absorbing years of sunlight. The strength it has stored through a long period of hard work and patience cannot be destroyed in one go. When a tree is chopped, the barks bleed but soon they heal up and expand again to their former size. If one wants to kill a tree, it has to be pulled out of the anchoring earth. Its most sensitive part, i.e., the roots, has to be exposed to the sun and the air. Once it is done, the tree is killed.

Stanza 1
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 leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.

Killing a tree is a tough job. It is not a simple job which can be done by simple strike of knife. The tree has been considered ironically as enemy of human beings. The tree slowly consumes earth. It uses earth resources. It is feed by those resources on earth‘s crust. It rises by consuming air, sunlight, water for years. By consuming Earth‘s resources leaves have grown from its leprous like bark.

Stanza 2
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.

Thus, much effort is needed to kill a tree. It is needed to be hacked and chopped. It cannot be done by so much pain that will be caused to tree. The bleeding bark of tree will heal one day. From ground, the curled green twigs, miniature boughs, that means the twisted and small branches, will rise again if not cut properly. It is needed to be uprooted properly.

Stanza 3
No,
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.

No, that also, means cutting of small branches, will also not be enough. The roots needed to be pulled off. It is to be tied by ropes and pulled out. It needed to be pulled out from earth‘s cave. The strength of the tree needed to be exposed. The strength which is white and wet, which means, great strength of trunk, which is hidden beneath earth, which is most sensitive part of tree, holding tree for years is needed to be attacked.

Stanza 4
Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done

After that, when tree is uprooted, it gets scorched in sunlight, choked, get more browned, get harden get twisted, get withered, and then, finally the tree is killed.
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