Who Needs an Old Tree Summary and Analysis: Raja Changez Sultan

Read our complete notes below on the poem Who Needs an Old Tree by Raja Changez Sultan. Our notes cover Who Needs an Old Tree summary, themes, and analysis.

Who Needs an Old Tree: The Poem

Down with her trunk,
Out with her roots,
Replace this old one
With new saplings
From the nursery,
The land owner stated,
The gardener contemplated.

Year after year
She bears no fruit,
I cannot afford it,
Off with her branches,
Use them for firewood,
Bury her leaves
In fertilizer pits.

Who needs an old tree
That bears no fruit!
The sparrows will rest
On younger branches,
The parrots will pick
On bursting fruit
And I shall be rich.

The land owner stated,
The gardener contemplated,
Then dropped his pick,
Packed his belongings
Emptied his house,
Made off into nowhere,
Leaving nothing behind.

Who Needs an Old Tree Introduction:

Let’s begin with a brief introduction of the poem, “Who needs an old tree”. The poem is written by Raja Changez Sultan. Raja Changez Sultan is a famous Pakistani poet and painter recognized internationally by all those who have germinated the seeds of art and literature. He is a graduate of Columbia University, New York.  He starts aiming at a career of writing poems and painting at a very early age; his main pursuit behind this was to write 10 good poems and paint 10 good paintings in his lifetime. The DIVIDED SELF and the HIMALAYAN ODYSSEY are the two principal themes he paints. These can be seen in his poems as well where he tries to go deep into human psyche to dig out the actual causes of human difference that are human-made and the sufferings as a repercussions of those human-made differences.

Who Needs an Old Tree Summary:

The poem, Who needs an old tree, is a dramatic monologue in which two characters can be observed: landowner and gardener. The landowner directs the gardener to replace the old tree because it gives no food and other benefit. The landowner seems to be utilitarian seeking financial gains in every move. He wants the gardener to replace the tree with a new sapling from the nursery.

In the first stanza (line 1-7) the landowner gives the reasons to the gardener for replacing the tree. He states that the old tree in getting down being food for nothing even the roots are no out which means the roots and the stem have lost the affiliation and control of the earth. Due to this reason the landowner wants the gardener to replace it with the sapling from the nursery; to which the gardener- subjugate, contemplates.

The second stanza (line 8-19) deals with the reasons why the landowner wants the gardener to replace the old tree. He states in an orderly manner that the tree is unable to bear any fruit for years. He clearly tells the gardener that he cannot afford the tree to live in his farm occupying space and utilizing the resources under the earth, anymore.  He wants the demolishing branches and leaves to be used as fertilizer to suck the gain out of the dead tree to the last bit. In the very next line, he day dreams and says when this old tree will be replaced, the new branches will be the host the parrots which in turn will make him rich. What parrots and bursting fruit symbolize here will be discussed in the analysis section.

The last stanza (line 20-26) is a mood changing stanza. This stanza reveals the actual motive behind orders of landowner. When the landowner is done with saying, the gardener understands the implied meaning of his owner. He once again contemplates to the orders of his landowner. The gardener leaves off his pick, empties the houses given by landowner and leaves for an unknown destination.

Who Needs an Old Tree Themes:

Modesty:

The poem, Who needs an old tree, has a very strong message for the subjects of today`s society to be moderate. The poem demands to adjust the personality and overall outlook according to the whirling winds of the time. The time is always in a flow and it stops for none. It is imperative for every individual living in this global village to act accordingly because staying behind the layers of time is like going deep into stagnant water moving towards nothing and ultimately getting trapped into the jaws of death. The old tree which bears no fruit is left behind and same is the case with the gardener.

Hegemony:

The poem shows the impact of Hegemony: hegemony simply means power. Though the poet has showed the evil side of hegemony but it, in deed, is very realistic that one cannot have any sort of authority unless he is a hegemonic power. We see in the poem, the landowner controls not only the gardener but exercises whatever he wishes to do.

Modernism:

Modernism is another theme of this poem. This poem is more inclined towards the modernist perspective. The poem preaches to recognize the identity and strive for the identity. Identity is not in the old traditional value it is hidden somewhere around us in the technological perspective. What is identity? Identity is to realize one ‘self in the trend changing world. The differences between “to be moderate” and “modernism” is that the first demands to be in compliance with the winds of time while the latter asks to demolish the authority of tradionality and conventionality acting rationally.

Who Needs an Old Tree Analysis:

This poem has so many dimensions to ponder about. In this section not only the poem but the very title is analyzed through different lenses. The “old tree” in the title is used as metaphor that stands for many things in a number of aspects and dimensions. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the poem, Who needs an old tree.

  • As the wave of modernism has struck far and wide of this world. The tree can be a metaphor for traditional values. The author abhors the traditions and conventions as they bear no fruit and are good for nothing. It seems that the writer wants us to go for modernistic approach in our lives because past identity which is stuck to old customs and norms cannot adjust itself in this fast trending world where new and mind striking ideas float every second. The first two lines clearly depict the miserable condition of the old customs and norms which are losing their traditional and bigoted authority. The new sapling from nursery means the fresh wave of modernism from the lap of science. We might understand that the author is trying to follow the notion of rationality. This picture gets more developed and elaborated when the landowner wants the gardener to use the leaves and worn out branches in ‘fertilizers pit’ which usually gives the glimpses of mechanized world.
  • The old tree can be taken as metaphor for ‘religion.’ This is an established thought that modernism has shaken the very roots of religion as was the case of Darwinian Theory where the laid foundations of religion and its authority were dragged to scratches. This ultimately led people into the world of chaos and meaninglessness. In this poem, it might be seen from this perspective that religions, which are now old enough, have nothing significant for the future generations. The religions are now outdated mythologies. New world is a world of science and technology. Everything has its reality in the very roots of science.
  • This poem can also be seen from the lens of Post-Colonial Criticism. The poem truly depicts the very relationship of colonizer and colonized; the relationship of domination and exploitation. The landowner is a colonizer while the gardener is a colonized subjugate. The landowner colonizer has subjugated the colonized gardener by different means. The colonizer shows that he provides the shelter and food to the uncivilized gardener and this ploy gives him the position of domination from where he can easily exploit the subjugated subject in whatever way he wants to. The colonizer demands more and more work from the colonized. Like old tree, when the colonized is unable to perform beneficial tasks for the colonizer, the colonizer wants to replace him. This is the whole phenomenon of the colonial system- domination and exploitation. The colonized are sucked out, all the resources lying in the territory of the colonized are used for the benefits of ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Empire’. Once the colonized are left with nothing, they are left in the region of meaninglessness. The colonizer comes with the narratives of civilizing mission for the colonized but in reality they do nothing on the part of civilizing rather they loot and plunder the colonized territory and subjects. In the end it is very evidently shown that the gardener who faithfully contemplates to all the orders of the landowner is even indirectly told to leave away.
  • This poem can be seen from Marxist perspective of class differences. The upper class and the lower class; the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The bourgeoisie has the means and control of proletariat. The bourgeoisie enjoys everything because of proletariats but they are deprived of their basic rights, even. Marx states that in capitalist’s society, everything is shaped by money. We see that the very setting of this poem is in Capitalism and the landowner is a capitalist. The landowner is looking only for financial gains for him anything else means nothing. He does not even the leaves and branches unused. He wants to use them in order to get the material benefits. When he talks about the new branches, sparrows and parrots, his view is that new trees will bear fruit and this will attract the investors and potential buyers which will make him rich. His only aim is to accumulate money. In the end, we see that the whole set is staged for the gardener because he is not beneficial to him anymore and has to leave so does he.