Solution Answers to the textbook exercise questions of the poem ‘The Trees’ are given here. The answers are comprehensive and to the point.
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Textbook Exercise Solutions
THINKING ABOUT THE POEM
(i) Find in the first stanza, three things that cannot happen in a treeless forest.
(ii) What picture do these words create in your mind? “….. sun bury its feet in shadow …..”? What could the poet mean by the sun’s ‘feet’?
(i) The three things area:
(a) No Birds – The birds could not sit on trees.
(b) No Insects – No insect can hide in them.
(c) No Shade – There will be no shadow in a treeless forest.
(ii) The picture that these words create is bare stretch of land burning under the sun in the absence of trees. By Sun’s ‘feet’ the poet means the movement of the sun across the sky. The sun has been personified here, having feet like a person. As the sun moves across the sky the light of the sun is concealed, as it were, in the leaves and branches of the trees, causing no shadow on the earth. But now there will not be any shadow as there are no trees in the forest.
These words create a picture of sun light coming through the thick forests. The poet calls the beam of sunlight feet of the sun.
(i) Where are trees in the poem? What do their roots, their leaves and their twigs do?
(ii) What does the poet compare the branches to?
Ans. (i) The trees are in the poet’s house. The roots try to disengage themselves from the cracks in the verandah. Their leaves strain towards the glass. Their twigs have become stiff with exertion.
(ii) The poet compares the branches to the newly discharged patients coming out of the clinic in a half-dazed state of mind.
(i) How does the poet describe the moon: (a) at the beginning of the third stanza, and (b) at its end? What causes this change?
(ii) What happens to the house when the trees move out of it?
(iii) Why do you think the poet does not mention “The departure of the forest from the house” in the letters?
(i) In the beginning of the stanza, it is a full moon but at the end it is like a broken mirror. This change is caused by the trees. In the beginning there were no trees in the forest, so the poet could see the full moon. Now the trees have moved into the forest. So, when the poet sees the moon through the leaves and branches of trees it appears broken into pieces.
(ii) There is complete silence in the house after the trees move out of it.
(iii) The poet does not mention the departure of the trees in her letters because till now they were imprisoned. But their departure from the house was like a hard-won freedom. This is both an important and unexpected happening. Perhaps the mention of their departure might have caused some embarrassment to the poet.
4. Now that you have read the poem in detail, we can begin to ask what the poem might mean. Here are two suggestions. Can you think of others?
(i) Does the poem present a conflict between man and nature? Compare it with A Tiger in the Zoo. Is the poet suggesting that plants and trees, used for ‘interior decoration’ in cities while forests are cut down, are ‘imprisoned’, and need to ‘break out’?
(ii) On the other hand, Adrienne Rich has been known to use trees as a metaphor for human beings; this is a recurrent image in her poetry. What new meanings emerge from the poem if you take its trees to be symbolic of this particular meaning?
(i) Yes, the poet presents a conflict between man and nature. Plants and trees are used for interior decoration in cities. They seemed to be imprisoned and long for freedom. That is why the trees in the poet’s house moved out of the house into the forest, which is their natural habitat.
The poem is about the conflict of man and nature. Man has cut down the forests. Plants and trees are no more seen in forest as they are replaced by colonies and buildings. Plants are seen only stuffed in houses where they cannot be fully developed. In the poem ‘A Tiger in the Zoo’ the same conflict is highlighted. Forests are the natural habitat of wild animals but they are also stuffed in the zoo and their natura house of forests are destroyed.
(ii) If the poem is taken to be symbolic then we can say that the house is a symbol of human society in which men and women live together. But this is a society which is dominated by man. Trees may be symbols of woman. Just as the trees are struggling to move out of the house, similarly women are struggling for freedom by raising their voice against male domination. They are supposed to live within the four walls of the house. They are nothing more than decorative pieces for men just as plants and trees are kept in houses for interior decoration. The forest then is a symbol of the world outside the four walls of the house where women also want to go and enjoy full freedom like men.
We may draw symbolic meaning that trees have revolted against human beings. They have started to back to the jungle to regain their original place.
5. You may read the poem ‘On Killing a Tree’ by Gieve Patel (Beehive – Textbook in English for Class IX, NCERT). Compare and contrast it with the poem you have just read
In the poem ‘On Killing a Tree’ by Gieve Patel, trees are metamorphically described as human beings. A tree struggles a lot before dying. The poet describes the destruction of nature at the hands of man. In both the poems. trees are shown personified.
They give us a moral lesson that trees should not be cut down as they are valuable for our existence.