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Comparing Gieve Patel and K.V. Raghupati Poems

A Comparative Study between
Gieve Patel’s “On Killing A Tree” and K.V. Raghupathi’s “Felled Tree”

This paper focuses on the comparative study between Gieve Patel’s “On killing a Tree” and K.V. Raghupathi’s “Felled Tree”. Both the poems are similarly attuned so far as the theme, locale and setting are concerned. While Gieve Patel contrasts between a tree in the process of growth and a tree in the process of death, Raghupathi presents the detailed description of a felled tree called the neem tree in its most unsympathetic destruction.

Both the poets amply demonstrate that the conscience of the contemporary world is stifled by the guilt of destruction of the environment for selfish aggrandizement. The poems are symbolically representative of the exploitation of Nature by man with his limitless desire for power and wealth.

The perception and treatment of Nature in Gieve Patel’s ‘On Killing A Tree’ is typically influenced by his medical profession which is not only the source of writing but also enables him to deal the poetic element with clinical accuracy whereas it has acquired a characteristic treatment in Raghupathi’s “Felled Tree” for vivid imagery and subtle comparisons. The poem in Gieve Patel is generalized for killing any tree while the poem in Raghupathi is particularized for killing a tree called the neem tree.

Both the poems exemplify the universal truth that destroying any form of Nature is absolutely suicidal and they leave behind a stark reminder that nobody has a right to destroy what he/she is not capable of reproducing. Both the poets have employed the language with action words that convey the sound and sense in an elegant style. They link sound to meaning. We find the same implements used to destroy a tree in both the poems. Also, we find the human concerns in both the poems. Almost, we find parallel meaningful lines composed in these poems. i.e., Nature’s reproductive capacity.

Wilted leaves and twigs turning to the paling evening sun
as if asking for resurrection – (KV Raghupathi’s ‘Felled Tree’)

The bleeding bark will heal
and from close to the ground
will rise curled green twigs (Gieve Patel’s “On Killing a Tree”)

Man is the subject of selfish actions. He is the killer who resorts to killing trees without rationality. It is an unkind human world that the two poets largely dealt with. The intensity and severity of chopping a tree echoes strongly in both the poems.

The wind blows no longer and sings in the leaves
but moans in silence
the earth quivers but is stoic
shall I lift you up and graft your broken trunk
to the roots? – (K.V. Raghupathi’s ‘Felled Tree’)

The root is to be pulled out
out of the anchoring earth
and pulled out-snapped out
or pulled out entirely
out from the earth-cave – (Gieve Patel’s “On Killing a Tree”)

Hacking, chopping and axing are the images of instruments used in cutting down a tree. The poetic description runs parallel in both the poems.

Do you know who killed you?
do you really know who severed you from the womb?
what sin have you committed
to reap the cruel man’s axe? – (K.V. Raghupathi’s ‘Felled Tree’)

So hack and chop
but this alone wait do it
then, the matter of scorching and choking
in sun and air
browning and hardening
twisting, withering
and then it is done.– (Gieve ‘Patel’s ‘On Killing A Tree’)

Both the poets describe the poetic processes of growth and destruction of a tree in the uncared cruel human world.

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 leprous hide
sprouting leaves – (Gieve Patel’s ‘On Killing A Tree’)

Urchins dancing round yelling in joy
--- a kind of fire dance
chopping limbs and hands
for making firer at home
while the blessed hacked tree submits meekly – (K.V. Raghupathi’s ‘Felled Tree’)

In conclusion, I firmly hold that both Gieve Patel and K.V. Raghupathi have come quite close to portraying the themes of ecological concerns. Nature is, indeed, a subject to reckon with in both the poems. Both the poets have pleaded for the protection of Nature which is the abundant source of life for any living-being. They have registered their anxiety, protest and bitterness with the readers and strongly advocated a campaign for the protection of trees. Though the poems deal externally with the axing of trees, they internally convey a lasting message to safeguard Nature from total destruction and pave the way for pollution-free world.

Works Cited

Raghupathi, K.V. Small Reflections, Kolkata: Writers Workshop, 2000 : 47. Print.
Patel, Gieve. Poetry for pleasure, Maruthi Book Depot, Guntur: 2002 : 36-37. Print.


More by :  Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad

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