2 POEM - 4 ON KILLING A TREEIt 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.
3 So hack and chop But this alone won’t do it 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. 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,
4 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. - Gieve Patel
5 THE POETGieve Patel was born in Mumbai in 1940, and was educated at St. Xavier’s High School and Grant Medical College. He lives in Mumbai and practices Medicine. He also writes poems and plays in English. His poems appeared in the Illustrated Weekly of India, New Writings in India, and Young Commonwealth Poets ’65. His plays are staged, but not published. His poems are based mostly on Indian themes.
6 SUMMARY OF THE POEMIn the poem, "On Killing a Tree" by Gieve Patel, the poet wants to say something about the cutting of trees. According to him, it will take too much time to kill a tree. It is not just a simple jab (means a quick stab or blow) to do the job. The tree has grown slowly consuming the earth (means eating and drinking from it), rising out of the earth, feeding upon the crust of the earth, absorbing (means taking in) innumerable years of sunlight, air water, out of the trees' leprous hide (means resembling the skin of a leper (here) refers to the discolored bark of the tree) the newly formed leaves begin to sprout.A woodcutter may hack (means cut or chop) with repeated and regular blows (means chop), but still this alone will not do the job. The tree does not seem to feel any kind of pain because the bleeding bark seemed to heal all the time. The trunk of the tree from close to the ground will produced curled green twigs that will rise from the miniature bows. If their growth is not checked, then they will expand again and grow to their former sizes.The most important thing to do while killing a tree is to ensure that the root is pulled out of the anchoring (means source of security and stability) earth. The tree is to be rope-tied and pulled out - snapped out (means pulled apart or break with a snapping sound) or it should be pulled out entirely from the earth cave.Finally, the strength of the tree will be exposed, from the very source where the white and wet, which is the most sensitive part which has been hidden for many years inside the earth. Then it is only a scorching (means burning) superficially so as to discolor or damage the texture of and choking (means drying up here) in the sun. In the end, the tree will go through a process of browning, hardening, twisting and withering. Then ultimately, the tree gets killed.
7 GLOSSARY S. No Word Meaning 1 Anchoring earth Supporting earth, fixing to earth, fastened to earth, source of security and stability2AbsorbingTaking in3brownColour of earth4ChokeTo make someone unable to breath5chopTo cut into pieces6ConsumeTo use especially fuel and energy, eating and drinking7crustThe hard outer surface8curlTo form something into a curved / circular shape9hackTo cut with rough and heavy blows10healcure11jabPush with sudden strong movement, stab or blow12leprousInfected with leprosy/ a rough surface, (here) refers to the discolored bark of the tree.13scorchTo burn and damage surface14sensitiveAbility to feel pain15SproutCome out, new growth on a plant, germinate16witherBecome dry
8 COMPREHENSION Answer the following questions briefly: The mood of the poem is:a) Pleasant b) Nostalgic c) SadMake a list of words which refer to the process of killing a tree:Answer: list of words: a) Jab (stab or blow), b) hack and chop (Repeated severe chopping), c) pulling out, d) roped, tied and snapped-out, e) scorching, f) choking, g) Browning, h) Hardening, i) Twisting and j) Withering (devastate or destroy)What does the phrase “bleeding bark” mean ?Answer: The poet feels that tree gets wounded with every hack and chop. By saying “bleeding bark will heal”, the poet affirms that the wounds of the tree will get cured.How much time will the bleeding bark take to heal?Answer: Bleeding bark will take few weeks to heal.How is the strength of the tree is revealed?Answer: The strength of the tree is revealed by exposing its white and wet root, hidden inside the earth for years by anchoring the earth.
9 Read the Extracts and answer the questions that follow: ‘ So hack and chopBut this alone won’t do it ?’What does the word ‘it’ refers to?Answer: The word ‘it’ refers to ‘On Killing a tree’What are processes suggested to do it?Answer: The stem and root of the tree has to be roped, tied and pulled out entirely from the earth-cave till the root of the tree is exposed.Who is the speaker?Answer: The poet himself is the speaker“ And the close to the groundWill rise curled green twigs”Why will green twigs rise from the close to the ground?Answer: Green twigs rise from the close to the ground because the tree wants to grow and expand further back again.
10 Answer the following questions in a paragraph each: Why does it take much time to kill a tree?Answer: The tree has grown slowly consuming the resources of earth and rising out of the earth, feeding upon the crust of the earth, absorbing innumerable years of sunlight, air , water, out of the trees' leprous like skin. Like a ship anchored in the sea, the roots of the tree were anchored and fastened to the earth. The stem and root of the tree has to be roped, tied and pulled out entirely from the earth-cave till the root of the tree is exposed. Therefore, it takes much time to kill the tree because the tree.The process suggested for killing a tree sounds very cruel and barbaric. Discuss:Answer: Instead of using the words, ‘felling’ or ‘cutting’ for removal of tree, the poet calls it as ‘On killing a tree’. Also he describes the process in detail by saying, not a single jab will do the job and that requires several repeated hacks and chops. And the poet writes that the stem and root of the tree has to be roped, tied and pulled out entirely from the earth-cave till the softest end of the root of the tree is exposed. Though the process suggested for killing the tree appear to be cruel and barbaric, we should not fail to notice the poet’s humane side while crying for “bleeding barks”, the wounds created by repeated chops. Either the poet writes this poem in a nostalgic mood, reminiscence of his observations, or he symbolizes something in place of the tree.“And then it is done:- The last line suggests that the process is very laborious” Do you think so? If yes/No Give reasons.Answer: Yes. The successful accomplishment of the job was described as “And then it is done”. While killing a tree, one has to confront many obstacles posed by the tree. It has grown very strong over the years consuming all earth’s resources and anchoring to the earth with deep grown roots. In order to overcome such obstacles, several tools like axes and knives, several actions like chopping, tying, and pulling-out and several techniques like hardening, scorching, twisting etc. were used in the process of killing the tree. Therefore, the process was laborious.
11 APPRECIATIONThere are number of words/expressions which signal cruelty and violence. List them out. Why does the poet use those expressions?Answer: First and foremost, the title itself is cruel. Instead of using the words, ‘felling’ or ‘cutting’ for removal of tree, the poet calls it as ‘On killing a tree’. While describing the process, it is said that, not a simple jab will do the job and it required several hacks and chops. Further descriptions like, pulling out, to be roped, tied and snapped-out, scorching, choking, Browning, Hardening, Twisting and Withering are also signal cruelty and violence. At the same time, the poet equates the cuts of the tree to the wounds and describes it as “bleeding bark”. Either the poet writes this poem in a nostalgic mood, remembering his childhood observations, or he symbolizes some evils of society, in place of the tree and how it should be eradicated.Study the last stanza. There are six words used to refer to the process of killing. All in the ……ing form. Why does the poet use them?Answer: The words are, Scorching and choking, Browning, Hardening, Twisting and withering. The process of killing tree given in the stanzas other than the last are to jab, hack, chop, tie and pull are all sequential and one follows other. And these are done over one tree in sequence. But the words in last stanza, Scorching and choking, Browning, Hardening, Twisting and withering are done to wooden logs, not to a particular tree and not in a particular sequence and may be overlapping too. These words describe the seasoning of wood which is a continuous process.