Gieve Patel’s ‘On Killing a Tree’ is an excellent ironical poem. In the poem, the work of cutting down a tree becomes a violent ritual. This ceremonial task of killing a tree is purely ironical as man kills his best friend in a triumphant mode. The last line of the poem says: “And then it is done.” The line suggests that great success is achieved in the end. This is nothing but a devastating success. It is an act of extreme brutality, cold-blooded murder of a living thing. The title of the poem is ‘On Killing a Tree’ but at the outset of the poem, the poet tells us how a tree grows up to its full feature. The tree grows slowly, consuming the earth and absorbing water, air and sunlight for years. It is the same sun that dries up and destroys the tree. The use of irony makes the poem interesting and rich in meaning.

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

Justify the appropriateness of the title of the poem, ‘On Killing a Tree’.

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?

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