The poem, Felling of the Banyan Tree, talks about the poet Dilip Chitre’s compassion and love for trees and nature. He is sad about trees being cut down from his house and compares it with the murder of humans.
Felling of the Banyan Tree Summary
The port says that his father asked all the tenants to leave their house so that they could proceed with its demolition. All the houses except for the one in which the poet’s family resided and a banyan tree considered holy by his grandmother were demolished. The trees were cut down, including several medicinal and sacred ones. However, the cutting of the enormous banyan tree that was so tall and had deep roots was a big problem. Still, the father gave the order to cut the tree.
The tree was thrice the size of the poet’s house, and its truck had a circumference of about fifty feet. Its aerial roots were thirty feet long and touched the ground. They started by shredding the branches, which caused the insects and birds to leave the tree. Fifty men had to constantly chop its trunk. Everyone saw the tree’s ring that showed its age of about two hundred years. The people witnessed this slaughter with fear and fascination. The poet expresses that soon after that, they moved to Mumbai from Baroda, where they could not see many trees. If they could see some trees, it was in their dreams only, as they looked forward to turning into reality and touching the ground, changing into a concrete building.
Felling of the Banyan Tree Analysis
With this poem, the poet delves into an exploration of a particular time in his life when his family roots were torn out, and they had to change their old way of life. At the start, the reader knows that the decision was made by the patriarch, the father. Contrary to the masculine approach, the antithetical is the feminine grandmother who speaks for nature and attaches a sacred aura to the trees. She adds a religious element and says that according to traditions, harming the trees is a crime. The poet names the trees that his father massacred. When the poet talks about the tree’s shape, he represents the centuries of living and the connection between heaven and earth.
Further, the poet talks about the helplessness of the tree, for it cannot resist being hacked by dozens of men. It gives the idea of a battle and foretells the environmental struggles. The two emotions that the speaker experiences are terror and fascination. The former is caused by fear of the future, and the latter because of the enormous tree crashing down, showing its rings and antiquity.
The family moves to a city, which hits the speaker hard because he can only see trees in his subconscious. The tree is angry because of how the move happened, and one does not know if its roots will find what they need.
Felling of the Banyan Tree Theme
The poem is based on uprootedness, the idea of leaving behind a family home. It also highlights the ecosystems and the massive destruction it is subjected to, particularly the felling of trees for profit under the garb of progress.
In the poem, the speaker moving and the tree being cut down are inextricably linked. The two are coinciding and fused.
Felling of the Banyan Tree Central Idea
The poem, Felling of the Banyan Tree, is focused on a specific time in the family’s history when an important decision had to be made by the father, which involved demolishing the house on the hills and cutting down a huge tree that had stood there for ages. In this autobiographical poem, the poet Dilip Chitre explores the time when he was uprooted from Baroda and sent to Mumbai. The tree is the metaphor he used for his life and the upheaval moving to a different place caused.
Felling of the Banyan Tree: Figures of Speech
The poet uses imagery and metaphors throughout the poem. He personified the tree and used it to depict his own household decision, where they were uprooted from their home in Baroda and moved to Mumbai.
Updated by Anjali Roongta on 12th April 2023.
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