On Killing a Tree

On Killing a Tree – Gieve Patel

Now read the poem which speaks about the pain of trees.

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.

It Means:

leperous – (covered with scales)
hide – (strong thick outer skin)
boughs – கிளை
snapped – முறிந்து
scorching – எரிச்சல்
choking – மூச்சுத் திணறல்
hardening – கடினப்படுத்தல்
withering – வாடி


jab (v) : to poke, or thrust abruptly or sharply with a short, quick blow
crust (n) : the brown, hard outer portion or surface
leprous (adj) : covered with scales
hide (n) : the strong thick outer skin
miniature (adj.) : very small

It Means:

poke – குத்து
thrust – உந்துதல்
abruptly – திடீரென்று

About the Author

Dr. Gieve Patel is one of the prominent Indian poets. His famous works include Evening, Forensic Medicine, and From Bombay Central. He has also penned three plays. He has been conducting a poetry workshop in Rishi Valley School for more than a decade. This poem is taken from his poetry collection ‘Poems’ published in 1966.

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