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“On Killing a Tree” is a sensitive poem. The poet persuades the reader not to destroy trees and equates it with “killing” a human being. He says that a plant takes sunlight, water, air, and nutrients from the soil to gradually become a huge tree. It develops a strong trunk and gets numerous leaves.
Merely cutting the trunk of the tree does not kill it. When a tree is cut, the sap flows out just like a wounded man bleeds. Once the wound heals, new branches and tiny leaves grow from there which grow into trees.
In order to destroy a tree, it has to be uprooted. The roots which are white in colour and are damp due to the moisture that they get from the soil are hidden in a pit in the Earth. These roots are the most sensitive part of the tree as they bind it to the earth. In order to kill the tree, these roots have to be detached from the soil.
Once the roots are detached, the tree starts dying, It withers, dries up with the action of heat and wind, twists, hardens and finally, dies.