Philip Larkin – The Trees
Commentary by Merve Hilal Taş
The Trees by Philip Larkin is a 3 stanza poem observing the rebirth of trees. The trees are used as a metaphor for life in general symbolizing our hopes that we try to achieve to be reborn before eventually dying. There’s also a message within the poem implying that even though we as humans observe the trees to be reborn, they actually grow older. This poem shows that growing old and changing is inevitable. It also has a rhyming scheme of a-b-b-a where it is not noticed right away while reading. This conveys and image of delicate leaves in the wind along with the last words of the poem; afresh, afresh, afresh which portrays a sound of trees getting in contact with the wind. Each stanza contains the same amount of lines and the same rhyming scheme which displays the cycle of trees and cycle of life.
The first stanza is very relaxing and lively. It contains the words “greenness” and “coming into leaf” which suggests the trees coming into bloom in spring. “Greenness” refers to purity and naivety where they look almost flawless during spring. However the narrator associates the greenness with grief because this greenness will only be temporary and they will eventually fall down. It is sorrowful that the trees can live for thousands of years while leaves are very ephemeral. “Leaf” symbolizes life having a positive connotation suggesting ‘coming into life’ or ‘being born’. The sibilance “relax and spread” suggest the rustling of the leaves which comforts the reader. In this stanza, the tree itself is used as a personification for life itself and the leaves suggest people holding onto life from when they are born (leaves coming out, flawless and green) until they die (leaves turn yellow and fall down). The changes in leaves due to seasons suggests generations in human life.
In the second stanza, Larkin questions himself the rebirth of trees. Being sure of himself he claims that the trees die too showing...
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