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Our Casuarina Tree|
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Toru Dutt (1856–77)|
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LIKE a huge Python, winding round and round| |
  The rugged trunk, indented deep with scars,| |
  Up to its very summit near the stars,| |
A creeper climbs, in whose embraces bound| |
  No other tree could live. But gallantly|         5| The giant wears the scarf, and flowers are hung| |
In crimson clusters all the boughs among,| |
  Whereon all day are gathered bird and bee;| |
And oft at nights the garden overflows| |
With one sweet song that seems to have no close,|         10| Sung darkling from our tree, while men repose.| |
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When first my casement is wide open thrown| |
  At dawn, my eyes delighted on it rest;| |
  Sometimes, and most in winter,—on its crest| |
A gray baboon sits statue-like alone|         15|   Watching the sunrise; while on lower boughs| |
His puny offspring leap about and play;| |
And far and near kokilas hail the day;| |
  And to their pastures wend our sleepy cows;| |
And in the shadow, on the broad tank cast|         20| By that hoar tree, so beautiful and vast,| |
The water-lilies spring, like snow enmassed.| |
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But not because of its magnificence| |
  Dear is the Casuarina to my soul:| |
  Beneath it we have played; though years may roll,|         25| O sweet companions, loved with love intense,| |
  For your sakes, shall the tree be ever dear.| |
Blent with your images, it shall arise| |
In memory, till the hot tears blind mine eyes!| |
  What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear|         30| Like the sea breaking on a shingle-beach?| |
It is the tree’s lament, an eerie speech,| |
That haply to the unknown land may reach.| |
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Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of faith!| |
  Ah, I have heard that wail far, far away|         35|   In distant lands, by many a sheltered bay,| |
When slumbered in his cave the water-wraith| |
  And the waves gently kissed the classic shore| |
Of France or Italy, beneath the moon,| |
When earth lay trancèd in a dreamless swoon:|         40|   And every time the music rose,—before| |
Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,| |
Thy form, O Tree, as in my happy prime| |
I saw thee, in my own loved native clime.| |
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Therefore I fain would consecrate a lay|         45|   Unto thy honor, Tree, beloved of those| |
  Who now in blessed sleep for aye repose,—| |
Dearer than life to me, alas, were they!| |
  Mayst thou be numbered when my days are done| |
With deathless trees—like those in Borrowdale,|         50| Under whose awful branches lingered pale| |
  “Fear, trembling Hope, and Death, the skeleton,| |
And Time the shadow;” and though weak the verse| |
That would thy beauty fain, oh, fain rehearse,| |
May Love defend thee from Oblivion’s curse.|         55|  | |
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Casuarina Tree
Introduction

The tree in Toru Dutt's "Our Casuarina Tree" stands for the motherland with its giant stature. It is indented with scars that has been inflicted by the past trials and tribulations. The rugged' trunk hints at the antiquity of the culture. The tree reaches for the stars and represents the aspirations of millions. The python-like creeper stands for the cultural invasion that the country has faced. The symbol of the Python represents an objective outlook as foreigners have always viewed India as the land of snakes and magicians. It gallantly wears the culture with dignity. It accepts the invasion of the creeper and utilizes it as an embellishment (scarf) that enhances its appearance. The "gathered bird and bee" emblematize communal activity in India, as it is a conglomeration of various cultures and religions.

A creeper climbs, in whose embraces bound
No other tree could live.

By these lines, the poetess signifies that no other country could have absorbed these...
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