Our Casuarina Tree is one of the notable poems of Toru Dutt. It was published in her collection of poems Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan in 1882. The tree is used as a symbolic representation of the poetess’s past memories. She wrote this poem when she was Abroad. The poem is written in an autobiographical tone.
About Toru Dutt
Toru Dutt was known as a great poetess, novelist, essayist, translator, and outstanding pioneer in the history of Indian English Literature. She is also the first Indian poetess, who write in French and English at that time when Indian writers were facing lots of criticism from English literature writers. Their work has not only been appreciated but has even been republished.
Many critics compared Toru Dutt with John Keats because his style of writing is just like John Keats’s. Among his world-famous poem included- Sita, Lotus, Baugmaree, The Tree Of Life, Ancient Ballads, and Legends of Hindustan. She also died at an early age at the age of 21.
About The title of “Our Casuarina Tree”
” The Casuarina tree” here is symbolic. It was the tree under which the poetess and her siblings and friends played in their childhood. Thus it holds a special place in the poetess’ heart. Even when all of them went their separate ways, the Casuarina tree stayed as it was. It became the symbol of their everlasting love for siblings and friends.
Structure of The poem
Our Casuarina tree poem consists of fifty lines which are divided into 5 Stanzas and there are 11 lines in each stanza. The Rhyme scheme of each stanza is ABBACDDCEEE.
Analysis Of “Our Casuarina Tree”
The first stanza of Our Casuarina Tree begins with the image of a tree. The poetess says that a creeper like a python is winding the tree. Its hold was too tight, so it had left a scar on the trunk. The poet further states that no other tree would have sustained this hold, for it is too strong, but her tree did.
Like a Giant, the tree has proudly worn those scars like a scarf, representing its strength. To further describe its beauty, the poetess says, it is filled with crimson flowers in every bough like a crown that invites birds and bees. Often at night, when the poetess could not sleep she used to listen to the music that filled her garden.
The second stanza of the poem starts with a morning view. When every morning, she opens her window, and her eyes rest on the delighted tree. Sometimes during other seasons and mostly during winter seasons, she has seen a baboon sitting on the top branch like a statue waiting to receive the first array of sunlight. Whereas, his ‘Puny of Spring’ plays around in the lower branch of the trees. Along with his scenic beauty, the poet also experienced Kokila’s welcoming notes. She has also observed the cows guided towards the pastures and the water lilies spring under the shadow of the hoar tree, like gathered snow.
In the third stanza, the poet comments on why the tree will remain dear to her always. Besides the morning bliss, the tree remains her of the time she played with her siblings. The tree blended with the memory of them gives her the images of the intense love they shared, leaving tears in the poetess’s eyes. The poetess mourns for those departed souls. She also imagines that the tree shares her loss which she hears as Dirge Like Murmur resembling the waves breaking on a pebble beach.
In the fourth stanza, the poet presents an in-depth connection with the tree. Through the image of waves, she takes us to a foreign land which is known as “Where the waves gently kissed the classic shore”. Whenever this music of the waves touching the waves rises it arouses the memory of the tree in front of the poetess’s eyes as she has seen in her youth.
In the final and last stanza, the speaker wants to erect something in honor of the Casuarina Tree. For those who were beloved, who are resting in peace, love it. She wants the tree to live long like those trees of “Borrowdale” making a reference to Wordsworth’s “Yew Tree”. Also, she makes an attempt to distinguish the trees of England from the Casuarina tree, connecting to her varying emotion. The Casuarina tree stands for nostalgia, longing, and memory whereas the trees of England reflect her isolation.
The final lines of the poem underscore the idea of a poem as a written memory. The poetess seeks Love to protect the tree and her poem from time’s ravage.
The poem, Our Casuarina Tree is a reminder of Toru Dutt’s childhood and the happiness she experienced with her siblings and friends, that childhood is not alive now.