Poetic devices used in the poem "On Killing a Tree" by Dr. Gieve Patel:
I. Metaphor:
A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristicsMetaphors are used to dramatize thoughts to emphasize and elevate the expression to a higher intensity.
1. Jack was fishing for compliments - In the real sense, Jack cannot be casting a lure to catch compliments from a river! It just means he was looking for compliments.
2. John was so hungry that he could eat a horse - In the real sense, it means he was extremely hungry and he could eat a lot of food, but not a whole horse!
3. The sun is a golden ball - In the real sense, one cannot throw and play with the golden ball that the sun is!
Metaphors used in the poem "On Killing a Tree":
  • Leprous hide - Leprous is used to define scaly skin caused by an infectious disease. The poet here means that the skin of the tree looks leprous, meaning rough and scaly.
  • Bleeding bark - The poet means the sap or the fluid in a tree, which oozes out when a tree is cut down. He compares the sap to the human blood here.
II. Alliteration:
Alliteration is the occurrence of the same letter at the starting of two or more words in a single line, in a poem.
1. The slender smiling girl...
2. The song of sweet birds...
3. Black bug bit a bear...
4. Practise the piano...
What are the uses of alliteration?
1. It creates a rhythm, similar to rhyming words.
2. It emphasizes the importance of phrases.
3. Mostly used in tongue-twisters.
Alliteration used in the poem "On Killing a Tree":
  • It takes much time to kill a tree
  • The bleeding bark will heal
  • Which if unchecked will expand again
  • The source, white and wet
III. Personification:
Personification is a figure of speech, a poetic device in which human attributes are given to plants, animals, non-living things or ideas. The objects speak/behave like humans, with human emotions in such cases.
1. Personifying animals:
a. The cat asked the mouse for a dinner treat.
b. The dog asked his master to let him inside.

2. Personifying ideas:
a. Love is blind.
b. His anger oozed out in his words.

3. Personifying non-living things:
a. The popcorn popped out of the bowl immediately in the oven.
b. The sun shined and smiled upon us, early in the morning.
Uses of personification:
1. When human qualities are given to objects, the writer/poet can convey the meaning easily.
2. The understanding of the idea is made easier when objects are personified.
3. It helps to build a character around the object.
4. Makes the text/poetry more interesting and fun to read.
5. Literal meanings are to be ignored in such cases.
Personification used in the poem "On Killing a Tree":
  • On "Killing" a Tree - the tree has been personified from the title till the end of the poem.
  • "has grown"
  • "Slowly consuming the earth"
  • "The bleeding bark will heal"
IV. Repetition:
In any poem, repetition is repeating words, phrases, lines, or stanzas. Repetition is used to highlight a feeling or idea, and to create rhythm.
American poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem famous for its repetition. "The Bells" uses repetition to imitate the continual ringing of bells:

'To the swinging and the ringing
of the bells, bells, bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!'

As you can see, the word 'bells' is repeated throughout the poem to increase enthusiasm and to create a memorable rhythm.
Repetition used in the poem "On Killing a Tree":
  • "Pulled out" - This phrase has been repeatedly used to emphasize that the roots are very strong that we need to uproot the whole tree by pulling it out entirely.
             The root is to be pulled out
             One of the anchoring earth;
             It is to be roped, tied,
             And pulled out – snapped out
             Or pulled out entirely,
             Out from the earth-cave
V. Enjambment:
Enjambment is a style of poetry in which there is a continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, or a stanza. In simple words, when one sentence continues into two or more lines, without a break.
In the poem "The Waste Land" written by  T. S. Eliot, enjambment can be seen in the lines, which run continuously to more than 3 sentences:
"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."
Enjambment in the poem "On Killing a Tree":
  • The whole poem has been written in enjambment style where the lines run into more than one sentence.
  • It may also be noted that the poem is in free verse style (there are no rhyming words or rhyme scheme)
  • Note a single sentence has run into 6 lines in the poem:
         Then the matter
         Of scorching and choking
         In sun and air,
         Browning, hardening,
         Twisting, withering,
         And then it is done.
Summary of all the poetic devices used in the poem:
Poetic device
Examples from the poem
1. Leprous hide
2. Bleeding bark
1. It takes much time to kill a tree
2. The bleeding bark will heal
3. Which if unchecked will expand again
4. The source, white and wet
1. On "Killing" a Tree - the tree has been personified from the title till the end of the poem.
2. "has grown"
3. "Slowly consuming the earth"
4. "The bleeding bark will heal"
4RepetitionPulled out
5 EnjambmentThen the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.