On Killing a Tree By Gieve Patel

On Killing a Tree by Gieve Patel is a thought-provoking poem. In the poem, the writer says it’s hard to kill a tree. It takes a lot of time. A simple knife jab or axe can’t kill it. A tree gradually grows by receiving food and various supplements from the earth

It absorbs daylight, air and water for a considerable length of time and turns out to be exceptionally strong. If we attempt to hack and cleave it, it doesn’t feel much pain. The strength it has gathered through a long time of hard work and patience cannot be crushed in one go. When a tree is slashed, the barks drain however soon they heal up and expand again to their previous size. It absorbs daylight, air and water for a considerable period of time and is extremely powerful. If we try to hack and cleave it together, it doesn’t feel much pain. The strength of a long period of hard work and patience cannot be crushed at once. When a tree is slashed, the barks drain, but soon they heal and expand again.

On Killing a Tree

On Killing a Tree

The poet says that the real power of a tree lies in its roots. If we want to kill a tree forever, its roots should be removed from the anchoring earth. They should be open to wilt in the sun and shock in the air. Thus the tree is finally slaughtered after a long procedure.


The poem ‘On Killing A Tree’ has been penned down by ‘Gieve Patel’. This is a sarcastic poem in which the poet uses various criticisms against killing a tree.

The poet says that a tree takes a long time to be uprooted because it has utilised various resources from the earth like water, nutrients and has grown up into a well-built tree which cannot be uprooted with a simple blow of a knife. It has consumed earthly resources to sprout leaves from its cracked bark. So in order to kill a tree, a lot of effort is needed. By heavy blows, the plant can fall but the injured bark can heal and give rise to small branches which can grow to the former size if neglected.

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In the next stanza, the poet uses the sarcasm that it is impossible to uproot a plant completely with less effort. He says that to eradicate the plant from its native place, the root which is set deep in the earth, holding it very fast, is to be chopped out. Then after digging deep, one can find the lively and active part of the tree which is very sensitive and remains preserved in the deep layers of earth.

Then, finally, the tree is to be browned and hardened in the sun to cause its withering otherwise it can develop roots and grow again. The poet depicts the fact that the truth takes a lot of time to be established and it is almost impossible to remove it from the earth otherwise, the existence on earth will cease to continue.

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On Killing a Tree | Critical Appreciation

The poem “On Killing a Tree” by Gieve Patel is deeper and have something different meaning than it would leave one to believe.

I think the poem has a sarcastic meaning. The poet has used many images and expressions in the poem, showing that he has a great deal of respect for the trees. Clearly, Gieve Patel seems an environmentalist.

For example, he describes how a tree grows, as:

“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 leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.”

This passage shows respect for the tenacity of a tree and that its leaves can grow out of the dirt of the crust of the earth. It has risen against all odds and turned out to be strong. This description shows how Patel respects nature and is amazed at the miraculous process through which it develops.

Furthermore, the passage shows that the poet is ironic and depicts the tree’s mistakes. It has consumed the hull of the earth for quite a long time. It absorbed daylight, air and water, like a cheat, and grew like a giant. So the tree must be killed. In any event, it’s an easy task. A simple blade hit won’t do it. It will rise again from near the ground and develop to its previous size. It will again become a menace to man. So the tree should be tied with a rope and pulled out completely. It should uncover its white, draining root. It should be dried and hardened and twisted and wilted at that point, and it is done.

On Killing a Tree

On Killing a Tree

Later, he depicts the core of the tree as
“The source, white and wet, /The most sensitive, hidden/For years inside the earth,”
again demonstrating admiration for the source of the life of the tree.

If you look carefully, you will see how Patel depicts the elaborate process of killing a tree, he is exaggerating by all accounts and posting all the details to point out that it is so absurd to kill something so alive and established in nature. He is against the procedure by all accounts. In the beginning, he indicates how one can kill a human being with a ” simple jab of the knife, ” but to execute a tree, it’s such a long, drawn-out process. It takes significantly more plan, reason, and commitment, and that appears a bit wrong.


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Sharing knowledge has helped humanity to survive and evolve into the smart and productive species that it is today.A Candle loses nothing by lighting another candle."Margaret Fuller says, "If you have the knowledge, let others light their candles with it."


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