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CBSE Revision Notes for Class 10 English First Flight Chapter 8 The Trees

Central Idea of he Poem
The poem The Trees’ by Adrienne Rich shows the conflict between man and nature. With the growth and development of society, human beings have used nature for their own benefit and caused a lot of harm to it. In order to use natural resources like forests, minerals etc. men have forgotten the importance of nature. The poet wants to give the message that the presence of a few trees inside our homes does not become equal to nature, it is a very false idea of nature. Real nature is outside, in the forests that we have destroyed.
The trees in the speaker’s house want to break the walls of the house and move to the forest which has become empty. The birds can sit again on their branches, the insects can hide there and the sun rays can disappear under the shadow of the trees. The poem tells us how the trees want to break free from the walls that humans have put around them, and go out in the forest.

Stanza 1
The trees inside are moving out into the forest,
the forest that was empty all these days
where no bird could sit no insect hide
no sun bury its feet in shadow
the forest that was empty all these nights
will be full of trees by morning.

Empty – vacant, hollow, missing
Bury – cover something so that it is not visible

Exp – The speaker of the poem observes that the trees in his house are moving outside into the forest which has been empty for a long time. It is important to understand that the trees are not actually moving, but it has been used as an imagery by the poet to show the destroyed forests and the false nature that humans have tried to keep in their houses. Since the forest outside was empty, no birds could sit on the branches of trees, no insects could hide in the trees and sunlight could never disappear under the shadows of the trees. The speaker feels that the empty forest will be full of trees by the next morning.

Stanza 2
All night the roots work to
disengage themselves from the cracks
In the veranda floor.
The leaves strain toward the glass
small twigs stiff with exertion
long-cramped boughs shuffling under the roof
like newly discharged patients
half-dazed, moving to the clinic doors.

Disengage – get free
Veranda – the space right outside the house but attached to it
Strain – make a lot of effort
Twigs – the topmost part of branches
Stiff – hard
Exertion – pressure
Cramped – shrunk
Boughs – larger branches of a tree
Shuffling – slow dragging motion without lifting feet
Half-dazed – half shocked/or half asleep

Exp – It seems like the trees work silently in the night in order to complete their mission of getting free from the boundaries of the house. Therefore, they work all night to free themselves through the cracks on the veranda floor. The leaves of the trees try very hard to put a lot of pressure on the glass so that they could break it. The small twigs have become very hard due to applying so much pressure to free themselves. The larger branches of the trees that have shrunk because of being inside the walls and under the roof, where they cannot grow much. They try to move slowly from there and look like newly discharged patients from a hospital, who become half-shocked on coming to the outside world.

Stanza 3
I sit inside, doors open to the veranda
writing long letters
in which I scarcely mention the departure
of the forest from the house.
The night is fresh, the whole moon shines
in a sky still open
the smell of leaves and lichen
still reaches like a voice into the rooms.

Scarcely – hardly
Departure – leaving
Lichen – crusty patches on tree trunks

Exp – The speaker, who could be the poet herself, sits in her house, writing long letters, the doors of which open to the veranda. She hardly mentions in her letters about the trees that are moving out to the empty forest. It is a full moon night where the moon is shining in the open sky and the night is very fresh. The poet can smell the leaves and lichens coming from the trees that reach her like a voice.

Stanza 4
My head is full of whispers which tomorrow will be silent.
Listen. The glass is breaking.
The trees are stumbling forward
into the night. Winds rush to meet them.
The moon is broken like a mirror, its pieces flash now in the crown of the tallest oak.

Whishpers – low hushing voices
Silent – quite
Stumbling – walk unsteadily
Rush – hurry
Flash – shine
Oak – The name of a tree

Exp – The speaker listens to the sounds coming from the leaves and lichens of the trees. These sounds will not be there in the morning as the trees will move out to the forest in the night and will not be in the house by morning. Now, the speaker can hear the glass breaking due to the efforts of the twigs. As the glass breaks, the trees hurry outside and in doing so, they fall on each other and get struck at different places. As the trees go in the open, it seems like the wind is moving fast towards them to meet them. The tail trees can finally stand straight as they are free. They are so tall that they have broken the moon into pieces like a broken mirror. The moon now sits like the crowns on the heads of the tall oak trees. Again, the use of moon is an imagery to show that between the ground and the sky stands the trees; and one can only look at parts of the moon, and not the full moon, from under the trees’.

Poetic Devices
(i) Like newly discharged patients
(ii) Still reaches like a voice into the rooms.
(iii) The moon is broken like a mirror.
(i) Its pieces flash now in the crown of the tallest oak.
Rhyme scheme
There is no rhyme. The Poem is in free verse.

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