The Trees Summary

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About the Author

Adrienne Rich was a poet, essayist and feminist in America. She was born on 16th May 1929. Some of her popular works include ‘Woman Born’, ‘One Lies, Secrets and Silence’ and ‘When We Dead Awaken’. She was awarded the Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America in 1971.


The theme of the poem for Class 10 is that trees are not very happy with the activities of human beings. The crux of the poem is the conflict between man and nature. A plant is brought inside the house when it is a sapling but as it grows, it gets suffocated with the limited space available. So, it departs to feel free. The trees are thus moving out from the poet’s house to the forest to free themselves. Humans must understand that their actions are impacting negatively on nature and mend their ways before it's too late. 

Summary of ‘The Trees Poem’ for Class 10

The poem The Trees’ is about plants that we use for decorating our house. These plants are grown in small pots and pans to beautify houses. Human beings have confined nature within their four walls. They have uprooted trees from the large forests and kept them in artificial glasshouses. This poem portrays how humans have harmed nature for their selfish needs.

The poem, ‘The Trees’ written by Adrienne Rich is about decorative pants. These plants are grown within the four walls and in no way, they can help the birds and insects. Birds cannot sit on the branches and the insects cannot hide in them. They don’t give any shade. Their twigs are stiff. Their boughs are like a newly discharged patient. They are devoid of light. Their leaves rush towards the glass window for light because they feel suffocated in their small pots and pans. The poet is sitting inside her room. She is writing long letters. It is the nighttime and she can sense the smell of the leaves and lichen reaching inside her room. The poet has a strong feeling of desire that these trees should make all efforts to get light and air. 

‘The Trees’ is an extended metaphor--- the trees are indeed people, specifically, females who need healing or having been healed, are now ready for their true purpose, renewing the empty forest. 

Explanation by Stanzas

In the first stanza, the trees described are either decorative plants kept inside a house or they are shown only in a painting or picture. So, there is no place for birds to sit and insects have no place to hide because they are not real trees. Due to the absence of the forest, the sun has no shadow to cool its feet and so the trees are moving out to the forest. Now, as the plants in the house are moving out, the forest that was empty all these days will be full of trees the next morning. 

In the second stanza, the poet says that in the night, the roots work to free themselves from the cracks in the veranda floor so that they could move out. The leaves are making efforts to move towards the glass, perhaps in search of light. The twigs have become stiff as they try to pull themselves towards the light. The boughs of the trees are compared to newly discharged patients, who are anxious and depressed. As soon as they recover, they are eager to move out of the clinic doors. In the same way, the plants in the pot feel suffocated and they are eager to move out of the house in the hope of finding the light. 

In the third stanza, the poet says that she is sitting inside her house and writing long letters. In those letters, she does not mention how trees are struggling to come out of her house. She stares at the fresh night where the full moon was shining brightly in the sky. The poet further says that as a voice in the room, the smell of the leaves and fungus is still prevalent. 

In the last stanza, the poet says that there are many thoughts going on in the poet’s mind, which will be silenced by tomorrow morning. The poet can hear the sound of glass breaking and the trees moving out of the house at night, and the wind seems to welcome them. The poet says that the moon in the sky looks like a broken mirror because it is partially covered by the branches and the leaves. These broken pieces of the moon look as if they are crowning the oldest oak tree.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. Why are the Trees Moving Out into the Forest?

Ans. In the poem, the trees are represented as a metaphor for human beings. The poet says, the way humans want freedom, nature too wants to be free from the control of humans. The trees are brought to the artificial glasshouses but the natural habitat for them is the forest. The trees are desperate to come out of their artificial barriers. After a long and hard struggle, the trees are marching towards the forest, which is their natural habitat. 

Q2. How Does the Poet Describe the Night? How Does She Feel?

Ans. The poet describes the night to be fresh. In the open clear sky, the full moon is shining brightly. The poet can get the smell of leaves and lichen reaching inside the room. The poet says that her mind is full of many thoughts that will go away the next day along with the trees. 

Q3. Why Does the Poet use the Metaphor of Newly Discharged Patients?

Ans. The poet uses the metaphor of newly discharged patients because she is herself admitted in the hospital and is depressed. She is longing to get out of the hospital and she rushes towards the clinic doors just the way, the plants in the pots feel suffocated and they strive to move out to the forest. 

Q4. How Does the Poem ‘The Trees’ Make a Strong Plea Against Deforestation?

Ans. The poem ‘The Trees’ sends a strong message against deforestation. It highlights how trees are important to all living creatures. The poet says that if trees are cut, then there will be no shadow, no forest and no shelter for the birds and insects. The poet says that the natural habitat for the trees is forest but if they are controlled by humans, the trees will become desperate to get back to their habitat. The poet emphasizes that trees need to be kept alive in the forest and should not be imprisoned inside the house.