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A Poison Tree Poem Questions and Answers, Notes, Summary
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I. Answer the following questions briefly.
What happened when the speaker expressed his anger?
The anger ended when the speaker expressed his anger.
What happened when the speaker suppressed his anger?
When the speaker suppressed his anger, it only grew.
How are the results differ in the two instances?
Expression of anger in the first instance relieves the person of all ill-feeling, whereas suppression of anger in the second instance poisons him all the more because it grows.
When the poet is thinking about his anger, the picture of a tree comes to his mind. Which word in the first stanza suggests a tree?
‘grow’. The pronoun, ‘it’ implies that the poet is talking about a tree. The line Till it bore an apple bright;’ supports this answer.
The speaker helped his anger to grow. The second stanza mentions the different ways in which he helped his anger grow. What are the different ways?
The speaker watered it in fears, night and morning with his tears and sunned it with smiles.
“Water’d it in fears” suggests that
a. the speaker did not have the courage to express his anger
b. the speaker was afraid of the consequences
c. the speaker didn’t want to displease his enemy
(b) the speaker was afraid of the consequences.
The word ‘tears’ suggests that
a. the speaker too suffered for suppressing his anger
b. the enemy suffered
c. the speaker had to go through a lot of anxiety
(c) the speaker had to go through a lot of anxiety.
“sunned it with smiles” suggests that
a. the speaker cunningly hid his anger with bright smiles
b. the speaker pretended that he was not angry
c. the speaker let his anger grow secretly
(a) the speaker cunningly hid his anger with bright smiles.
Which line tells you that the speaker is a scheminfl&and cunning friend?
- And I sunnedii with smiles
- And with soft deceitful wiles.
The second stanza continues the image (picture) of a tree suggested in the first stanza. Which words in the second stanza refer to a growing
The poet, ‘so far, has been talking about
a. his suppressed anger
b. a growing tree
(a) his suppressed anger.
What kind of a tree and fruit (here apple) can grow when they are nurtured by fears, tears, hypocritical smiles and deceitful wiles?
A poison tree with poisonous fruits.
The word ‘it’ occurs in all the four lines of the 3rd stanza. What does ‘it’ refer to in each line?
‘It’ in the first line of the 3rd stanza refers to the speaker’s suppressed anger. In the 2nd line, it refers to a poison tree, In the third and fourth lines, it refers to a bright poisonous apple.
“Apple” in the poem refers to
a. the forbidden but tempting apple in the garden of Eden (in The Bible)
b. the consequence of suppressing anger
c. the fruit of his enmity
(b) the consequence of suppressing anger.
The apple is ‘bright’ because
a. it is intended to attract the foe
b. it is intended to tempt the foe
c. it is cunningly devised to hide the bitterness
(c) it is cunningly devised to hide the bitterness.
Who “stole” into the speaker’s garden?
The word “stole” means
a. that the enemy stole the apple
b. that the enemy entered the speaker’s garden stealthily
(b) that the enemy entered the speaker’s garden stealthily.
What does the speaker see in the morning?
The speaker sees his enemy dead under the apple tree in the morning.
Why, do you think, “dies” at the end? Is it only the enemy? Does the speaker also die? What kind of death ‘ does he die?
The enemy is physically and truly dead. But the speaker also suffers a lot of guilt for having caused this death. Though he is alive physically, he is emotionally dead.
“A Poison Tree” could refer to
a. the tree of hatred and enmity grew by the seed of suppressed anger
b. the destructive effect of being hypocritical and deceitful
c. the spiritual death of a person for nurturing base passions
All of the above.
II. Close Study:
Read the following extracts .carefully. Discuss in pairs and then write the answers to the questions given below them:
“And into my garden stole/when the night had veiled the pole”.
a) Who stole into the garden?
The speaker’s enemy stole into the garden.
b) Why did he steal into the garden?
He came stealthily to steal the apple from the speaker’s apple tree.
c) Explain the phrase ‘veiled the pole’.
Veil’d’ means ‘covers’. It can also mean ‘deliberately hide in order to fool someone.’
And I sunned it with smiles And with soft deceitful wiles
a) What does the word “sunned’ suggest?
As long as the speaker smiles hypocritically, his anger with his foe continues to grow. Thus, his smiles are acting upon his anger like sunshine, helping it to grow.
b) Explain the phrase “deceitful wiles”
‘Deceitful’ means ‘deliberately done in order to fool someone’. The speaker pretends to be friendly with his enemy by behaving in a very sweet manner.
c) Why had the speaker “sunned” it?
The speaker was afraid to express his anger with his enemy. Hence he pretended to be friendly and happy with him. This pretence only made his anger grow.
III. Paragraph Writing
Discuss, in pairs or groups of 4 each, the answers to the following questions. Note down the important points and then develop them into a paragraph.
How does the poet use the image of a tree to bring out the destructive effect of suppressed anger?
- The speaker waters his suppressed anger with fears and tears.
- He ‘suns’ it with smiles and deceitful wiles.
- The tree grows both day and night, and bears a bright apple.
- When the foe eats the apple, he dies.
Paragraph: The speaker does not tell his friend that he is angry with him. As a result, his anger grows. His growing anger is traced through the growth of a tree. Just as a tree is watered and provided with sunlight for its growth so does the speaker nurture his anger with fears, tears, fake smiles and wicked tricks. The tree of anger bears an apple that shines bright like the apple in the garden of Eden. It attracts the friend and he
steals it by night when the speaker was not looking. The result, the apple from the poisonous tree killed the friend. The speaker too dies spiritually for allowing anger to grow and for rejoicing in the death of his friend.
Discuss the following in groups of 4 each. One in each group notes down the important points. Share the group’s findings with the neighbouring group.
Do you think the speaker was right in being ‘glad’ at his foe’s death? Why? Why not?
All along the speaker had been afraid of his enemy and hence had not been able to express his anger. But he was not able to forget his anger too. Therefore he had nurtured it with fears, hypocritical smiles and deceitful wiles. When the enemy ate the poisonous apple and died, the speaker realized that he did not have to fear anyone or pretend anymore. So he was glad at his death. Considering the circumstances in which the speaker lived while the enemy was alive, it was natural on his part to feel ‘glad’ at the enemy’s death. If he had expressed sorrow, it would have been insincerity and pretence on his part.
What has happened to his own garden now with a poison tree? Was he happy in growing a poison tree?
The speaker’s own life will definitely not be happy with a poison tree in his garden. His own life has been wasted thinking about the enemy and plotting against him all the time. He has surely not found satisfaction or achieved pride in growing a poison tree which can destroy the enemy. After the enemy’s death, the speaker will be tortured by guilt and shame.
How could he have avoided planting a poisonous tree?
The speaker could have expressed his anger with the enemy. He could have talked about the hurt he felt, and asked the enemy for an explanation. This would have given an outlet to his emotions and rendered his mind clear.
Read the 4 rhyming words of stanza 3. Which vowel sound is repeated?
The four rhyming words of the stanza are -‘night’, ‘bright’, ‘shine’, ‘mine’. The vowel sound ‘ai’ is repeated.
A Poison Tree Poem Summary in English
The poet says that he was angry with his friend but he explained the reason of his anger and so he was satisfied and continued his friendship. He was also angry with his enemy but he did not tell him as much. His anger against his enemy increased day by day.
He allowed the enmity to grow with fear. He shed tears day and night for not being able to express his feelings to his enemy. He appeared to be happy in the external world and he used to smile to cover his anger.
The tree of enmity began to grow as he nourished it day and night with fears and tears. It bore a fruit which the enemy saw with eager eyes. Knowing that it was my fruit, he stole one night into my garden.
In the morning I was happy to see – my enemy lying dead under the tree. Because it was a Poison Tree.
A Poison Tree Poem Summary in Kannada
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