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Stanza by stanza summary of the poem "On killing a Tree" by Gieve Patel and the rhyme...

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lantern | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 23, 2010 at 8:13 PM via web

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Stanza by stanza summary of the poem "On killing a Tree" by Gieve Patel and the rhyme scheme.

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:39 PM (Answer #1)

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I will get you started

This poem paints a vivid and brutal picture of what is involved in killing a tree, but I think there can be a deeper meaning as well. The poet uses strong images to show that it takes quite a bit of doing to kill a tree. It is not enough to merely hack it with an ax. One must pull it up by the roots too eliminate it. Only then will it die in the “scorching and choking sun and air.” A full-grown tree has taken a long time to get to its present state. It has been fed by the earth for years, absorbing “sunlight, air, water” and if one merely “hacks and chops” off the branches, it will grow back. No. What needs to be done is to pull it out by the roots, separate it from its source of nourishment, the earth. How to do that? Tie a rope around it, pull it out completely, expose its strength (the roots), and let the “strength” dry up and die.

There are all sorts of things that this could be compared to, I think. For one thing, in Christian theology, there are many references to “the vine and the branches”. Christians believe that Jesus is the vine, and his people are the branches. When the branches are disconnected from the vine, they die. They do not have enough strength on their own to survive. In Native American beliefs, when the people are removed from their land, they cannot live. The land nourishes them and is their “root”.

Or, what if we are talking about a human being? Let’s say the “root” is love. What would happen to us if love were removed from our lives? What if it were a love that had been growing for a long time? A few little “stabs or hacks” would not destroy that love, something drastic would have to be done, perhaps betrayal, and then the love would die because the trust, which is the root of the love, would be exposed, pulled out from its source.

Get my drift? Now, what do YOU think?

As for meter and rhyme scheme, this poem is written in free verse.

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