Felling of the Banyan Tree

Felling of the Banyan Tree :

My father told the tenants to leave

Who lived on the houses surrounding our house on the hill

One by one the structures were demolished

Only our own house remained and the trees

Trees are sacred my grandmother used to say

Felling them is a crime but he massacred them all

The sheoga, the oudumber, the neem were all cut down

But the huge banyan tree stood like a problem

Whose roots lay deeper than all our lives

My father ordered it to be removed

The banyan tree was three times as tall as our house

Its trunk had a circumference of fifty feet

Its scraggy aerial roots fell to the ground

From thirty feet or more so first they cut the branches

Sawing them off for seven days and the heap was huge

Insects and birds began to leave the tree

And then they came to its massive trunk

Fifty men with axes chopped and chopped

The great tree revealed its rings of two hundred years

We watched in terror and fascination this slaughter

As a raw mythology revealed to us its age

Soon afterwards we left Baroda for Bombay

Where there are no trees except the one

Which grows and seethes in one’s dreams, its aerial roots

Looking for the ground to strike.

Dilip Chitre (1938) was born in Baroda. He writes poetry both in Marathi and English. Travelling in a Cage, from which the poem selected here has been taken, was published in 1980. Apart from poetry, Chitre has also written short stories and critical essays. An Anthology of Marathi Poetry 1945–1965 is one of his most important works of translation. He sees poetry as an expression of the spirit. He lives and works in Mumbai.

The word POETRY originates from a Greek word meaning TO MAKE. A poet is thus a maker and the poem something that is made or created. No single definition of poetry is possible but some characteristic features of poetry may be mentioned. Poetry has a musical quality with rhythm, pitch, metre and it may use figures of speech such as simile and metaphor. While quite a few poems in this selection are in traditional forms, the unit also includes modern poems that are free from formal restrictions.

Felling of the Banyan Tree :

Felling of the Banyan Tree To HOME PAGE