The title, ‘On Killing a Tree’ indicates the ironical fate of a tree. A tree is a generous helper. But man’s selfishness and greed annihilate it. As a simple jab or chopping cannot kill a tree, a cruel man uses a number of cruel methods to kill a tree. So a tree is uprooted and snapped out of the earth. Then roots are exposed to sunlight for drying. They pass through the processes of scorching, choking, browning, hardening and twisting. The act of killing becomes complete when the tree becomes completely withered. The poet treats trees as sensitive living organisms. He adds human qualities to them to highlight their struggle for existence. Thus, the title ironically points out man’s utter callousness and cruelty towards trees. So, the title is appropriate.

The poem, ‘On Killing a Tree’, describes man’s cruelty and violence to nature.-Discuss.

How does a tree offer resistance to its destruction? How does its resistance fail?

The substance of the Poem ‘On Killing a Tree’

Justify the title of the poem “On Killing a Tree.”

Give the central idea of the poem ‘On Killing a Tree.’

“Not a simple jab of the knife/Will do it.”—What does the phrase ‘a simple jab of the knife’ mean? Why can’t a simple jab of the knife ‘do it’?

“It has grown / Slowly consuming the earth,”—Bring out the significance of this line.

“But this alone won’t do it.” What is ‘it’? What alone won’t do it? Why?

“And out of its leprous hide/ Sprouting leaves.”—What does the expression ‘leprous hide refer to? What does ‘its leprous hide’ bear? Bring out the irony suggested here.

“And the strength of the tree exposed.”—Where does this line occur? What is described as the strength of the tree’? How is it exposed?

“No, The root is to be pulled out.” – Why has the word ‘No’ been used? How is the pulling out of the root related to the killing of the tree?

“And then it is done.”-Explain how it is done.

“The source, white and wet,/The most sensitive, hidden/ For years inside the earth.”—How does the poet describe the source and its functions?

“Why it is not quite easy to kill a tree?

How does a tree grow? What are the different stages to kill it?

Describe in detail the growth of the tree in the first stanza.

How does the tree heal itself?

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