On Killing a Tree
It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of the knife
Will do it. 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
So hack and chop
But this alone wont 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
No, 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,
And the strength of the tree exposed
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth
Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done
~Gieve Patel
About the poem:
'On Killing a Tree" is a poem by Dr. Gieve Patel. As an environmentalist, he opposes cutting trees and uses sarcasm to explain the same in his poetry. He describes in detail that killing a tree that has taken years of nurturing from the earth takes a lot of time and effort. A simple jab of the knife cannot kill a tree, nor can the hacking and chopping activity. The cut trees can heal by themselves and sprout miniature boughs again. If left unchecked, it can even grow back to its original size. To kill a tree, one must pull out its roots that are anchored to the earth. The roots are the most powerful part of the tree, which has been hidden inside the ground for many years - it has to be pulled out entirely. Then it is only a matter of scorching and choking in the sun and air. It starts browning, hardening and twisting - then it finally withers down, and the tree is eventually killed.
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. On Killing a Tree - Gieve Patel (pp. 110-112). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.