What does he mean by the strength of the tree exposed?

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Hint: The above question is given from a sensitive poem “On Killing a Tree” by Gieve Patel from Class 9th NCERT English Textbook. The poem tells us the fact that a tree does not die by merely cutting it because it regrows from where it is cut. If it has to be demolished, then it has to be uprooted.

Complete answer:
The strength of the tree lies in its roots. The above phrase means that upon being uprooted, the keenest and necessary part of the tree i.e. the roots will no longer continue to be dark in the Earth. Thus, the phrase “the strength of the tree exposed” refers to the roots of the tree being exposed to sunlight and air after removing it from the ground. This would eventually lead the tree to die.

The roots are white and are damp due to the moisture that they get from the soil and are hidden in a pit on the Earth. These roots are the most important part of the tree as they bind it to the earth. To kill the tree, these roots have to be removed from the soil. Once the roots are separated, the tree starts to die. It fades, dries up due to the heat and wind, twists, hardens, and ultimately dies.

Note: The poet urges the readers not to ruin trees and also he compares it with “killing” a human being. He says that a plant takes sunlight, water, air, and nutrients from the soil to constantly turn into a huge tree.