ON KILLING A TREE
By– Gieve Patel
Alliteration is the repetition of sounds at close intervals. It is used to lend a lyrical or musical element to the poem.
- The bleeding bark will heal.
(Here the poet has repeated ‘ b’ and ‘I’ sounds.)
- The source, white and wet.
(In this line ‘w’ sound is repeated.)
The metaphor is a comparison between two unlike objects, but the word of comparison ‘like’ or ‘as’ is not used. Instead of stating that one thing is like another, the poet identifies one with the other.
- The bleeding bark
Here the word ‘bleeding’ is a metaphor. The poet compares the sap oozing out of the bark of a hacked tree trunk to the blood of a human being or a living creature but does not use the word of comparison.
- leprous hide
Here the uneven, discoloured bark of a tree is compared to the discoloured and gnarled skin of a person suffering from leprosy. But the poet does not use ‘like’ or ‘as’.
Repetition ‘ is using a word, phrase, or clause a number of times with the purpose of emphasis or to provide unity to the poem.
- 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.
Here the poet uses ‘pulled out’ and ‘out’ again and again to emphasize the effort involved in uprooting a tree and exposing its roots. It shows that the root of the tree is deeply fixed into the earth.
Enjambment is a figure of speech in which one line of poetry rolls on to the next line without any pause marked by a comma or a full stop. In this poem, there is enjambment in every stanza.
- Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
Here there is no punctuation mark at the end of the first and the second line. The first line rolls on to the second and the second is carried on to the third.
- So hack and chop
But this alone won’t do it.
Here the first line moves on to the second without any comma or full stop at its end.
- Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.
In these lines, full stop comes at the end of the third line. The first line rolls on to the second and the second rolls on to the third line.
The poem has been written in free verse. There is no rhyme scheme and the length of the lines varies. Even the stanzas are not of equal length.
Here very strong imagery has been used and it shows the growth of the tree by taking nutrients from the earth and absorbing sunlight, air and water from nature.
- 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.
The poet portrays the tree as a human being throughout the poem.
- Bleeding bark — the wounded bark is represented as bleeding.