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In The Trees Are Down poet Charlotte Mew seems to be using the trees to symbolize Natures being the price of human progress.

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Question: Write a critical analysis of The Trees Are Down by Charlotte Mew. In ?The Trees Are Down? poet Charlotte Mew seems to be using the trees to symbolize Nature?s being the price of human progress. The poem also seems to have been influenced by the Romantics, through Mew?s detailed description of the trees being cut down, and her personal reaction to this act ? she refers to mankind?s indifference towards Nature, and the sadness this causes her, in this poem, where her main focus is man versus Nature, and loss, or death. Mew begins with a carefully chosen, highly significant quote from the bible, with the angel calling out ?Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees ? ?, indicating that she believes the cutting down of trees is wrong, also hinting at what the rest of the poem is about. Mew also uses repetition to convey her viewpoint, by applying the last part of the quote in the last line of this poem, again. A sad, somber mood and tone have, thereby, been set, and prevail through the entire poem, underneath her vivid descriptions and the images aroused in the readers? minds. ...read more.


She takes on a bitter, yet wistful tone while describing the last, lonely tree, standing ?Green and high/And lonely against the sky,? saying that this sight ?unmade the Spring? for her. Again, Mew refers to the trees as ?great? ? these were old, time-worn trees, cut down by men who did not care about what they were doing, they only cared for the paycheck that awaited them once they finished, and her sadness, along with Nature?s beauty, are emphasized in the last line of the fourth stanza, when the men ?have carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away/Half the Spring, for me, will have gone with them.? Mew?s heartwarming choice of words effectively convey the sadness she feels ? ?my heart has been stuck? ? while the trees are being cut down, and after they have been taken away, carrying on into the fifth and final stanza, where she discusses the trees, themselves. She deeply appreciates these trees ? an appreciation which is the outcome of having these trees as a part of almost half of her life. She says, ?Half my life? with these, in the sun, in the rains?/In the great gales that came over to them?, explaining how these trees have weathered all kinds of storms, seen all kinds of ...read more.


Charlotte Mew seems to be one of the few people that Matthew Arnold, for example, mentioned through his poem Dover Beach, in which he, like many other Romantics, predicted a time when the destruction of glorious Nature would be a common practice, and there would be few left, who genuinely cared about Nature. It is interesting to note that that poem was written almost twenty years before Mew was born, and she addresses the same topic, theme-wise, in this poem, written almost fifty years after Dover Beach, further emphasizing the universal aspect of the theme and issue raised. In this five-stanza long poem, Charlotte Mew uses simple words to paint vivid images in her readers? minds, to show them what she is witnessing and to explain how she feels about it. We may say that her silently mourning the cutting down of the trees shows that she understands that such acts are needed in order for humankind to progress, but, in her simple, effective choice of words, she seems to beg the question to what extent, when God, Himself, has said not to hurt our environment unjustly, in this poem. It can almost be said that while lamenting this loss, she becomes one with Nature as she feels its pain and condemns the never-ending greed and hunger that resides in mankind, in this poem. ...read more.

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