Page No 100:
in the first stanza, three things that cannot happen in a treeless
picture do these words create in your mind: “… sun bury its
feet in shadow…”? What could the poet mean by the sun’s
The three things that cannot happen in a treeless forest are the
sitting of a bird on trees, the hiding of insects and the sun burying
its feet in the shadow of the forest.
The sun radiates heat and the given words create a picture of the
hot, radiating sun cooling its feet in the cool shadow of the forest.
The sun’s ‘feet’ refers to its rays that reach the
Page No 100:
are the trees in the poem? What do their roots, their leaves and
their twigs do?
does the poet compare their branches to?
In the poem, the trees are in the poet’s house. Their roots
work all night to disengage themselves from the cracks in the veranda
floor. The leaves make efforts to move towards the glass, while the
small twigs get stiff with exertion.
The poet compares the ‘long-cramped’ branches that have
been shuffling under the roof to newly discharged patients who look
half-dazed as they move towards the hospital doors after long
illnesses and wait to get out of the hospital. The branches also have
cramped under the roof and want to get out into the open to spread
themselves in fresh air.
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does the poet describe the moon: (a) at the beginning of the third
stanza, and (b) at its end? What causes this change?
happens to the house when the trees move out of it?
do you think the poet does not mention “the departure of the
forest from the house” in her letters? (Could it be that we are
often silent about important happenings that are so unexpected that
they embarrass us? Think about this again when you answer the next
set of questions)
In the beginning of the third stanza, the poet says that the whole
moon is shining in the open sky in the fresh night. However, at the
end of the stanza, she describes the moon as broken into many pieces
such as a shattered mirror. This change is caused by the trees that
have made their way from her home to outside. Their branches have
risen into the sky, blocking the moon, which is why the moon seems to
be broken into many pieces. These pieces can be seen flashing at the
top of the tallest oak tree.
When the trees move out of the house, the glass gets broken and the
smell of the leaves and lichens still reaches the rooms of the house.
Page No 101:
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?
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
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?
Yes, the poem presents a conflict between man and nature. While
nature is more free and unbounded, man prefers to live in bounded
spaces and also wants to curb nature. He uses plants for interior
decoration of houses, cuts trees to make a house for himself, kills
animals for food or other purposes and cages them in zoos. In all
these ways, man curbs nature and denies plants and animals the
freedom in which they should live. The poem shows that trees and
plants are rebelling against man as they strive to work their way out
into the open. For instance, in the poem A Tiger in the Zoo,
the poet presents the fact that animals feel bounded by cages. They
can only take a few steps inside the cage, whereas they really want
to run and leap into the open. This signifies the fact that plants
and animals feel caged by humans and want to break out from the
imprisonment at the hands of humans.
If trees are symbolic of human beings, then it could be said that
humans too want to break away from the shackles of the busy and
selfish lives they lead. They also want to go out into the nature and
be free. They work all day and sometimes all night to try and achieve
something though they do not have the time to enjoy it. They keep
striving hard in their routines as they feel cramped under the roofs
of their homes and offices. Even they want to break free and go out
into the peaceful nature.
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