THE TREES
BY Philip Larkin
The Trees
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
-Philip Larkin
General Ideas
*a twelve-line poem
*compare the life and cycles of a tree to human
experience
*use of personification of leaves, buds, and bark as
spoken words, grief, and many other abstract
items
*relating the anatomy and activity of a tree to the
emotions and philosophy of a human closing and
opening various chapters in his or her life.
Technical Matters
*the twelve lines of the poem are arranged into
four-line stanzas.
*In each stanza, the first and fourth line rhyme
with one another in a true rhyme pattern
*the second and third lines work in an
additional true rhyme
*In complete, this rhyme scheme appears in the
following pattern: A B B A - C D D C - E F F E
Lines worth a mention
Line 7, 8
*Literal meaning: the growth pattern of a tree,
the growing part of the tree is at the outer
edges, under the bark. The cross-section of
the trunk reveals the pattern of alternating
thick and thin circles( the tree’s growth ring ).
Although a tree appears to be reborn and new
each spring, its age and processes are shown
on the inside.
Lines worth a mention
Line 9-12
*select words are presented to the reader almost as
sound effects (thresh, afresh). These words, when
spoken aloud, sounds like the leaves of trees
would when being rustled by the wind. As this
poem comments on the passage of time and a
cycle of death and rebirth, could these winds
perhaps be the winds of change?
On a more figurative level
many perspectives can be taken from these lines
*the understanding that although human beings
begin new experiences and new chapters in their
lives, their old experiences will always be with
them. It is an individual's experiences, after all,
that make up who they are. Much like a tree, a
person will never fully lose the years that have
passed them by, and the valuable experience will
collect inside them like rings of grain.
The 3 D's
deceit, disguise, and denial
*It’s the idea that although the tree itself does its best to
hide the layers of death and destruction resulting from
its natural cycle, there are always other means of
judging its age.
*For instance
-the pure size of a tree
-presence of or lack of vegetation surrounding its base.
*Similarly, many human beings choose to partake in agedefying treatments such as botox, cosmetic surgery, or
chemical creams.
The Poet
Philip Larkin
1922–1985
• Philip Larkin, an eminent writer in postwar Great Britain, was commonly referred
to as "England's other Poet Laureate" until his death in 1985. Indeed, when the
position of laureate became vacant in 1984, many poets and critics favored
Larkin's appointment, but the shy, provincial author preferred to avoid the
limelight. An "artist of the first rank" in the words of Southern Review contributor
John Press, Larkin achieved acclaim on the strength of an extremely small body of
work—just over one hundred pages of poetry in four slender volumes that
appeared at almost decade-long intervals. These collections, especially The Less
Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, and High Windows, present "a poetry from
which even people who distrust poetry, most people, can take comfort and
delight," according to X. J. Kennedy in the New Criterion. Larkin employed the
traditional tools of poetry—rhyme, stanza, and meter—to explore the often
uncomfortable or terrifying experiences thrust upon common people in the
modern age. As Alan Brownjohn notes in Philip Larkin, the poet produced without
fanfare "the most technically brilliant and resonantly beautiful, profoundly
disturbing yet appealing and approachable, body of verse of any English poet in
the last twenty-five years."
Additional Helps
For a line to line analysis go to :
http://mindfulpleasures.blogspot.com/2010/05/
trees-by-philip-larkin.html
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