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The Voice of Trees for Serene and Harmonious Survival


The Voice of Trees for Serene and Harmonious Survival

Dr. Nagalakshmi K

Assistant Professor of English

Dr. N.G. P. Arts and Science College

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India





Life in the earth is common for everyone. Living and non-living creatures have the same space to obtain for their survival in this universe. Many a times, human beings take the upper hand and destroy trees for their benefit. Many eco-critics extend support for the welfare of growing, preserving and giving life to trees. Similarly, they become conversationalists of nature and propagate the need and deed of saving trees and nature. This paper predominantly focuses on lives of trees and how to nurture them for the better living from the perceptions of Gieve Patel through his poem On Killing a Tree. He disseminates how trees should be taken care and ironically tells the lives of trees are getting harmed due to the demeanor that human being’s endeavor. For instance, he points out a vivid and brutal picture of what is indulged in killing a tree and eventually describes the way in which it has to be killed. The poem encompasses the effectiveness of nature in the walk of every living and non-living beings’ life. The paper throws light on the significance of preserving nature and how it feels pejorative to kill trees which consequences the impediments for every being. It portraits the cruelty of man and compares the act of killing the trees with the process of murdering man by following certain steps. Here, the voice of trees is registered through Patel’s insights. It also explicates about how lives of both man and nature need to be kept in serenity and harmony.


Keywords: On Killing a Tree; Voice of Trees; Serenity; Harmony; Patel


Gieve Patel was born on 18th August 1940 is a famous Indian poet and playwright. Patel is an active member to a group of writers who have addressed themselves to the ‘Green Movement’. The movement primarily involved in an effort to protect the environment. His poems voice out the profound concerns for nature and depict man’s cruelty to it. Patel’s works include Poems which was launched by Nisim Ezekiel in 1966, How Do You Withstand, Body (1976) and Mirrored Mirroring (1991). He has also authored three plays titled Princes, Savaska, and Mr. Behram. He currently resides in Mumbai and practices medicine. He is also a painter. As one of the contemporary Indian artists, he has been part of exhibitions around the world. The works throw light to the insights of natural conservation. In his poem” On Killing a Tree”, he describes the values and benefits of preserving trees in particular.

The poem On Killing a Tree has been taken from Gieve Patel’s anthology named Poems. The poem is a realistic representation of man’s unkindness towards the tree, which indicates Nature. The poet gives the readers nadir to zenith instructions on how to kill a tree and makes the readers realize that killing a tree is parallel to murdering a human being. It also refers to the disparaging nature of humans and the indestructibility of Nature. Patel explains that, the tree which stands as a nucleus part of Nature which has grown slowly consuming the earth and increasing out of its crust. It has grown over a period of time absorbing air, water and sunshine. He mentions about the way of killing a tree and also informs his readers that:

So hack and chop

But this alone won’t 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. (10-18)

Killing a tree is not an easy task and the tree cannot be killed easily. It takes much time to do it. The meager performing on hacking and chopping are not sufficient to kill a tree which symbolizes Nature’s soul. The tree overcomes hacking and chopping by branching off small stems with the help of its roots. The bleeding bark heals soon and the tree starts surviving again to former position. The voice and determination that a tree has is marvelous because it imparts lesson how to be an optimist creature even after several downfalls in life. Patel with the heavy heart describes the core process of killing a tree that:

Then the matter

Of scorching and choking

In sun and air,

Browning, hardening,

Twisting, withering,

And then it is done. (30-35)

After chopping and hacking is done, the live of tree is still retained in the trucks and stems. Subsequently, the roots have to be pulled in and have to scorch it in the sun until it turns to brown. At last, hardening, twisting and withering lead to the complete killing of a tree. Patel feels pity for the menfolk because trees are sources for human beings lives. They hardly comprehend the significance of trees around them.

             People do not read the real power of trees and Patel explains, knowing a tree’s supremacy to come to life, man decides to pull out the root itself entirely. The tree has been congenial in giving away oxygen and extends lot more benefits and useful to man. However, Man lacks to reciprocate to it that trees do to man. He is egotistical and pitiless in his behavior when it comes for safe guarding environment. His greed made him blind and ungrateful. His characteristics are associated with a butcher to take away the soul of the tree. He makes numerous breaks in the tree and cuts it down. After cutting the tree down, he further cuts it into several opportune pieces. He not satisfied until he brings down to tree to its root level.

The tree will rise against man’s attack. The small stems will branch out from the truck where they have pores to start up their lives. Man is ignorant to leave the life of trees in its midway. It has power to sprout up again with little hope and green. The voices of tree are heard many times during the process of killing it. The man failed in his attempt when he left the work half way. Patel explains, the elongated way of killing tree. He compares the lives of trees with the lives of human beings. It is possible for anybody to grow the dead tree to life by talking to itself.

The hurting that man causes to tress is similar to the harm which man experiences. Trees also have pain, grief, suffering, sorrows and joys as sensitively as human beings feel. It is not wise to hurt them. The poet reminds the readers that no man has inherited these green trees for his utilization. It is everybody’s foremost duty to conserve trees and not making any harm to trees at least for the future. Similar concept has been defined by Cheryll Glotfelty in her The Ecocriticism Readerwhere she talks about relationship between literature and the environment.

The poet describes the cruelty of man in obliterating the tree with insincerity and lack of involvement. But the poet’s own understanding is with the tree. The language of the poem is effortless, extraordinary and vibrant. He pictures the voices of the trees and how they spread out the goodness and goodwill to people. His poems usually have set to inform that the impediments that human being cause to trees in the modern world. The world is facing speedy deforestation for urbanization and industrialization. The poem is a mere depiction where nature is spoiled in order to lead luxurious and sophisticated life. The poet has just mentioned about the voice of trees to go ahead with the serene and harmonious feeling in the forthcoming walks of life.


Works Cited