The poem ‘On Killing a Tree’ was included in Poems, published by Nissim Ezekiel in 1966. In the poem, Gieve Patel gives a vivid description of the killing of a tree. The poem presents a vivid picture of man’s cruelty towards nature. The tree is a symbol of nature surrounding us. The poet shows how modern man destroys nature and its very spirit out of selfish greed. Trees are being tortured in every possible way. Economic value of a tree makes it a prey to modern consumerism and business. A tree brings money. So it is to be killed at any cost. This is the senseless motive that brings about destruction of nature. Through this poem, Gieve Patel raises his voice against indiscriminate felling of trees. It is not an easy task to kill a tree. A simple jab of the knife cannot kill a tree. Hacking and chopping, too, won’t kill a tree because the bleeding bark will naturally heal and fresh twigs will grow again. It may again grow to its former size. So man takes the up a series of activities leading to the killing of trees. The process includes all the steps from roping, tying and pulling out the roots entirely to the browning, hardening, twisting and final withering. Only then, the act of killing is completed. No doubt, ‘On Killing a Tree’ is a notable poem by Gieve Patel. It presents a realistic picture of man’s attitude towards trees. We should look upon trees as our greatest friend. But instead, we kill them. We do not understand the environmental and aesthetic value of a tree. The poem gives out a serious message. As an environment-friendly poet, Gieve Patel shows the destructive nature of men and their cruelty. The poem may be regarded as a moving commentary on one of the major environmental issues of the day.
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