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Updated: Jul 30, 2020


Gieve Patel was born in 18th August 1940 in Mumbai is an important person in the history of modern Indian poetry in English. He is an Indian Parsi-poet, playwright and painter, as well as a practicing physician. He has imaged the sensitive and acute awareness of the human condition throughout 40 years of his painting practices; he has held several exhibitions of his paintings in India and aboard. He has written three books of poetry Poems, first launched by Nissim Ezeikel, followed by How Do You Withstand (1966), Body (1976) and Mirrored Mirroring (1991)and three plays Princes, Savaksa and Mr. Behram. His works articulate a mature, restrained balance between figuration rooted in realistic naturalism and the freedom of painterly abstraction. He belongs to a group of writers who have subscribed themselves to the ‘Green Movement’ which is involved in an effort to protect the environment. His poems speak of deep concerns for nature and expose man’s cruelty to it. He has been translating poems from the 17th century Gujarati poet Akho into English.


This poem has been taken from Poems published by Nissim Ezeikel in 1966. As a human being we need to protect our natural environment, but we are permanently removing trees to make rooms. We need trees for variety of reasons, not least that they absorb only the carbon-di-oxide that we exhale, but also the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that human activities emit. Cutting trees can results in the loss of habitat for animal species, which can harm ecosystems. At such times we forget that it is also a living thing which helps us to live in this earth. It is our responsibility to look after nature who serve us in many ways. By doing so we are not doing any favor to them but to ourselves. This poem satirically portrays the human behavior towards plants and trees.


It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown Slowly consuming the earth, Rising out of it, feeding Upon its crust, absorbing Years of sunlight, air, water, And out of its leperous hide Sprouting leaves. So hack and chop But this alone wont do it. Not so much pain will do it. The bleeding bark will heal And from close to the ground Will rise curled green twigs, Miniature boughs Which if unchecked will expand again To former size. No, The root is to be pulled out - Out of the anchoring earth; It is to be roped, tied, And pulled out - snapped out Or pulled out entirely, Out from the earth-cave, And the strength of the tree exposed, The source, white and wet, The most sensitive, hidden For years inside the earth. Then the matter Of scorching and choking In sun and air, Browning, hardening, Twisting, withering, And then it is done.


A Tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. It is just like other living being which breathe, feed, grown etc… so it is not easy to take life of one tree within a short span of time using some knives or tools. Because it is not grown immediately it takes much of time and process, that human failed to witness. As plants are autotroph, they produce their own food by the process of photosynthesis. By gradually drawing nourishment from the earth, the sun, the air and water it grows up to be very strong over a period of time. From the thick main stem of tree, branches and leaves are grown. It cannot be destroyed by chopping with short strong blows which is painful to them. The sap oozing out of bark of a hacked tree trunk will heal and if we failed to check them it will rise as thin branch of tree to large branch and again gets it's form.

To kill a tree, it must be pulled out with its root as it serves as a strong support for the upper ground portion. Roots were strongly anchored on earth directly surrounding the trunk. Pulling a root is not a simple thing it needs so much effort. It must be tied with rope and ripped up by forceful pulling as a whole. The roots are most sensitive to heat and light thus it remains concealed under the surface of the earth for many years were now out by snapping it. It is left exposed to dry up in sun and air which withers and hardens it. Life drains out of it and the tree is finally killed. With cruelty and ruthlessness, a significant act of murder has happened.

“Trees lives matter”

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