LA’s Notes: Critical Appreciation

Toru Dutt was one of the famous writers of her time. ‘Our Casuarina Tree’ is the finest specimen of her poetic craftsmanship. The poem is not merely a poem, but also an attempt by the poet to recapture her past and immortalize it. The tree is presented both as a symbol and as an object of nature and in it, the poet projects both time and eternity.

The major part of the poem is filled with memories of the past and happy childhood days. She remembers her companions, how much she loved them and was loved in return. The sensitivity of the poet made her pay attention to every detail. The vivid description reveals her sharp power of observation. For example, the giant creeper is compared with a huge Python. Water-lilies are compared with enmassed snow.

In the second stanza, the poet describes the lasting impressions that the tree has left on her mind. She describes the baboon sitting like a statue on the top of the tree while its young ones play on the lower branches. She also describes the sleepy cows moving slowly to their pastures.

In the third stanza, she links up the tree with the memories of her deceased brother, Abju and her deceased sister, Aru. She feels great pain when she remembers the happy time that she had with them. The Casuarina tree connects her past with her present. Thus, the poet heard ‘that wail far, far away in distant lands.’

In the last stanza, the poet immortalizes the tree. She would like to dedicate a lay in the honor of the tree because it is ‘beloved of those who now in blessed sleep for aye repose’. Though her verse may be weak, her love will confer immortality on the Casuarina tree.

The poet has made abundant use of similes, metaphors, personification and allusion. In the first stanza, she compares the creeper winding round the trunk of the Casuarina tree to a huge python. She also, metaphorically, refers to the creeper as a scarf and also calls the tree a giant. She goes on to compare the water-lilies in the tank to snow. She personifies fear, time, death, and hope to intensify her feeling of loss. She also makes an allusion to the yew trees of Borrowdale made famous by William Wordsworth. She wants her Casuarina tree too, to be immortalized by her verse.

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