On Killing A Tree Summary Questions Answers Explanation

On Killing A Tree Summary Questions Answers Explanation 

Gieve Patel’s poem, “On Killing A Tree” represents a serious modern theme which is deforestation through the senseless cutting of trees in a ceremonial way. The poem also shows the Nature’s resilience through the images of a feeding tree and a healing tree.

On Killing A Tree Summary 

According to the poet, it is not easy job to kill a tree. After all, this has grown, slowly and steadily from the earth, consuming all natural resources. They have been growing for years absorbing sunlight, air and water. So, a sharp blow of knife is not enough to make a permanent end of it.

The repeated blow from a wood-cutter may wound and hurt the tree, but everything will be healed up in course of time. Mere hacking and chopping with the axe cannot kill a tree. The hacked bark on the tree stump will heal and new shoots with leaves will emerge from the stump close to the ground. 

Hence, what is needed in the matter is to root out the tree altogether from its earthly bed because the strength of the tree lies in the strength of the anchoring earth that holds the tree firmly. The taproot is very sensitive. It remains hidden for years under the earth. So, it is to be tied tightly by some strong rope and pulled out of the earth with all its roots. A big hollow place is of course formed thereby in the process. 

Finally, the uprooted tree is to pass through various process for its complete destruction. The uprooted tree is to be burnt, turned brown, hardened, twisted and withered. This is how the grisly act of killing a tree concluded. 

On Killing A Tree Theme

Gieve Patel’s poem, “On Killing A Tree” deals with a serious theme of modern times. This is deforestation. In the thoughtless process to extend the civilization and amenities, human beings recklessly indulge in cutting and destroying trees. The theme of the poem is suggested by the title of the poem. 

It is an ironical poem that can be read at two levels. On the first part of the poem, the poet reveals his powerful insight to analyze the method of cutting down a tree. On the outset, the poet describes how a tree is tortured by a man for its complete annihilation. But at a deeper level, he describes the brutal act of destroying the balance in the ecological system by cutting down trees at random.

The poem also describes the Nature’s resilience through the images of a feeding tree and a healing tree. In the second part of the poem, the poet describes the execution of a tree. The theme of the poem highlights a great deal of moral ideas like deforestation and savagery of modern man. It is the selfishness of modern man that makes the fallen tree completely lifeless. 

On Killing A Tree Title Analysis

The title of Gieve Patel’s poem, “On Killing A Tree” holds a key to its subject-matter. It is an ironical poem that can be read at two levels. The title of the poem, no doubt, serves a sarcastic tone of the process of killing a tree. It reflects how Nature is being degraded at the hands of man. It looks as if, the act of cutting down tree becomes a ceremonial task.

The poem is divided into two parts. In the first part of the poem, the poet describes that it is not easy to kill a tree. But the last part of the poem describes how a tree can be killed permanently. The title suggests the theme of the modern times. This is deforestation. The poet has used the term “Killing” to expose how foolishly and cruelly man goes to deforestation.

Thus, the poem from its beginning to the end, describes in detail the process and consequences of killing a tree. So, the title of the poem is very suggestive and appropriate.
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On Killing A Tree Explanation Stanza to Stanza:

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.

Explanation: It is not easy to kill a tree. It is an ironic statement that hoes against the common view that a tree takes centuries to grow but it can be destroyed easily. The tree is so full of life like human beings that a simple jab may not lead to death. The tree is fed and strengthened by different natural sources over the years. It is nourished by the natural resources like air, water and sunlight. It stands robust and deeply rooted.

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The poet here speaks about the life of a tree by implying the life of human being which passes through different stages of life to grow.

Stanza 2:

So hack and chop
But this alone won’t 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.

Explanation: The mere act of hacking and chopping is not enough to kill a tree. The tree endures all the pain but continues to live as it heals over time. The bark which has been chopped will heal itself and the trunk of the tree near the ground will give rise to new green twigs and small branches which may grow to their former size. Even humans continue to live despite injuries of their limbs. They go through a lot of pain and suffering but get healed as time passes and they continue to live.

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.

Explanation: Here the poet gives the description of the process of destroying the tree. The tree can be destroyed only by binding it tightly with rope and then pulling it out entirely with its roots from the ground. A hollow place is then created when the pulling process is completed. The root which is the source of strength for the tree, is also the sensitive part. It remains hidden inside the earth for years. The earth acts as an anchor to give strength to the tree. It prevents the tree from falling down or getting uprooted from the place. Here the poet wants to convey that to kill anyone or anything, it must be killed at the source of existence. 

Stanza 4:

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

Explanation: After the tree is pulled out, then comes the process of scorching, hardening, twisting, turning brown and withering of the pulled out tree. The pulled out tree is exposed to the sunlight to be burnt in the sun and chocked in the air. Finally, they become dry, hard, brown and out of shape.

Thus, the task of killing a tree is completed. The poet wants to convey that the tree is to pass through different hard process like human being which faces different sufferings before his final annihilation. 

On Killing A Tree Long Type Questions Answers 

1. “It takes much time to kill a tree” – Why does it take much time to kill a tree? 

Ans: Gieve Patel’s poem “On Killing A Tree” is a sarcastic one about the inhuman torture on the trees by man. It looks as if to make an end of a tree is a ceremonial task. The tree has grown up slowly consuming the nutrients from the earth. It has fed upon the crust and absorbed sunlight, air and water over the years. Its source lies in its roots which are hidden in the cave of the earth.

If these roots are not completely uprooted, they will expand and become a full grown tree. The tree has the power of resistance to survive against any outside strike. Thus, it takes much time to kill a tree. 

2. “And then it is done.” – What is done? How is the tree finally killed? 

Ans: Gieve Patel’s “On Killing a Tree” is a poem, written in ironic tone about the man’s acts of cruelty to destroy a tree. The tree, fed by different natural resources of earth, is strong enough to resist slight human efforts to kill it. Here the word “done” refers to the success of man’s persistent and tireless efforts of pulling out of tree with its roots from the earth cave to man an end of a tree. 

After the tree is being pulled out with its roots from the earth, then some human measures are taken for complete annihilation of the tree. It is left in the sun to be burnt and chocked in air. It is turned brown and hardened in the heat and air. This is further withered and twisted to snatch its last oozing. And only then the proud man has his cruel triumph and joy to kill a tree completely. 

3. What is the central idea of the poem, On Killing A Tree?

Ans: Gieve Patel’s poem “On Killing A Tree” deals with a serious theme of modern times. This is deforestation. In the craze to extend civilization and amenities, human beings recklessly indulge in cutting and destroying trees. This is expressed by the poet in an ironic way. The poet has used the term “Killing” to expose how foolishly and cruelly man goes for deforestation in a ceremonial way. Of course,  his sarcastic views at this human attitude is subtly borne out.         

The poem is to be praised for the picturesque description given by the poet about human’s efforts to kill a tree. Even it is not enough to pull out a tree from the earth cave with its roots, some human measures are taken to annihilate the tree completely.          

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Of course, the poem has a two-folded message. The first one is direct which is man’s senseless cruelty on a tree that gets its life force from the earth. The other message is Indirect. This is afforestation for human preservation and living a healthy congenial life.

4. How does the poet describe the growth of a tree in the poem?

Ans: It is difficult to trace how and when a tree has come to exist and grow. Somehow or other it started to grow from its seedling raised from a seed. This growth is slow and silent, but steady and continuous.        

In the first stanza, the poet describes the slow and steady growth of a tree over the years. It draws its sustenance from the earth and develops for years after years. It takes all the nutrients from the soil and consumes the vitality of the earth. It absorbs all the natural resources like sunlight, air, water to grow into a giant structure. The tree has taken deep root in the soil and leaves keep coming out of its leprous hide to renew the cycle of life. It is difficult to destroy such life with a simple jab of knife. 

5. What finally kills a tree?

Ans: In the poem, “On Killing A Tree”, Gieve Patel has asserted that a tree cannot be easily and swiftly put to an end. The tree draws its sustenance from the earth and is nourished by the natural resources like sunlight, air, water for years to grow strongly. It is difficult to destroy such life with a simple jab of knife. After all, it is deeply rooted inside the earth.

Hence, to ‘kill’ the tree, it is to be entirely uprooted from its base- the earth. The process of uprooting is also related by the poet. The tree is to be tied tightly by rope. Then it is to be pulled out forcefully or snapped out completely. The tree is, thus, to be deprived of its source and strength. It lies dead, leaving a big hole on the earth or what is called earth-cave.

6. What is the message of the poem, On Killing A Tree?

Ans: The poet paints a vivid but brutal picture of what is involved in killing a tree. But there is a deeper meaning as well. Killing a tree means killing the environment and thus killing the man’s abode the earth. The poet is an environmentalist and his poem speaks about the cruelty of man towards environment. In the thoughtless process to extend the civilization and amenities, human beings recklessly indulge in cutting and destroying trees.

The poet here in sarcastic tone describes how Nature is being degraded at the hands of man. It looks as if, the act of cutting down trees is a ceremonial task. On stating this, the poet taunts the people for his foolish act of destroying the lifeline of the universe. He wants to give the message that trees are something pious and very precious for our existence. So they must not be cut down. We must protect our environment in order to live a congenial healthy life.

7. How is the irony depicted in the poem, On Killing A Tree?

Ans: The poet is an environmentalist and thus the poem gives a picturesque description of killing a tree in an ironic tone. “On Killing A Tree” has lots of implications. Trees are our life line. So they should be preserved, where as the poet instructs us in a sarcastic way how to put an end to the life of a tree. Apparently, the poem describes the concept of man’s violence. It suggests the brutality of man against Nature.

At first, the tree appears to be an evil that must not be allowed to assert the claim of life. It is highly ironical that we must fight against the tree in the same way as we fight against evil. But the leprous hide that drains out life is also the source of life. Finally, man destroys the tree to show his folly born out of his ego.

On Killing A Tree Short Questions Answers 

1. In what form of verse is the poem ‘On Killing A Tree’ written?

Ans: The poem ‘On Killing A Tree’ is written in free verse.

2. Where does the tree’s strength lie?

Ans: The tree’s strength lies in its roots which keep it firmly fixed to the ground.

3. “Slowly consuming the earth” – What does the expression “consuming earth” means?

Ans: The expression “consuming the earth” means that the tree feeds on the earth by absorbing the minerals and water from the soil.

4. How does a tree grow?

Ans: A Tree grows slowly by consuming the nutrients from the earth and absorbing the sunlight, air, water for years.

5. What is meant by “leprous hide”?

Ans: The phrase “leprous hide” means the bark of a tree which is rough and has marks similar to the skin of a leper.

6. The third stanza begins with the word ‘No’ – What does the word ‘No’ imply?

Ans: The poet begins the third stanza with the word ‘No’. This word tells us that a simple jab of a  knife or chop or hack with an axe cannot kill a tree at all.

7. How is the tree pulled out from the earth?

Ans: A cavity or hole is dug around the root of the tree, the trunk at the root is tied with rope and the root is pulled out entirely. 

8. How is the strength of the tree exposed?

Ans: The strength of the tree is its root which is the life of a tree. When a big hole is dug around the root and is pulled out entirely out of the earth, then the strength of the is expressed.

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