The Axe in the Wood Poem Summary and Line by Line Explanation in English Class 8th


Clifford Henry Dymemt is the poet of the poem, ‘The Axe in The Wood’. The poem is about the negative consequences of poaching, uncontrolled and reckless cutting of trees. As we are aware of the importance of trees and forests in our lives, this poem expresses a crucial viewpoint.

About the poet

Clifford Henry Dyment was born in Derbyshire, England, and went to Loughborough Grammar School. He went on to work as a professional writer. He worked as a freelance literary journalist and critic, then as a screenplay writer/director for documentaries and military training films, and also as a freelance writer and broadcaster.


The poem conveys that, trees are a beautiful creation of nature that should not be chopped down and removed from the environment, no matter how old they grow or how helpful they may be for something.


‘The Axe in The Wood’ is a descriptive poem. It describes an important issue like felling of trees. The poem is divided into 4 stanzas. The first 3 stanzas consist of quatrains (4 lines each) and the last. i.e., 4th stanza consists of 2 lines. The poem is written in free verse. There are no rhyming words, and hence, no rhyme scheme.

Stanza 1

I stopped to watch a man strike at the trunk,
Of a tree grown strong through many centuries.
His quick axe sharp and glittering, struck deep,
And yellow chips went spinning in the air.

In this poem, the poet Clifford Henry Dyment, describes a day when he was strolling and stopped to see a man chopping down a tree. That tree was a century old, large, and extremely ancient. The pointed axe was sparkling as he struck it, and it hit deep through the bark, sending yellow wooden pieces flying into the air.

Stanza 2

And I remember how I liked the sight
Of poise and rhythm as the bright axe swung.
A man who fells a tree makes people watch,
for glory seems to crowd upon the axe.

The wood cutter’s poised posture and motions of his sparkling axe as he swung it, appealed to the poet. A man felling a tree is a captivating sight, and people feel inclined towards watch him cutting it. In the process of cutting the tree, a melodious sound was heard as the person struck an axe and paused as he removed it.

Stanza 3

I know the answer to the chance reproach:
How old the tree was, and how dangerous,
How it might fall, how timber in a stack
Had more good in it than a growing tree

People ask certain questions about things that will happen. The poet believes he has the answers to such challenges. People cut trees for a variety of reasons, according to the poet. It was centuries old and would fall, yet it had more value than a growing tree. Some people believe that this tree is quite beneficial since it produces a stack of wood. That would be more preferable than allowing the tree to grow. Those were the questions that drew the attention of the observers. 

Stanza 4

But I saw death cut down a thousand men 
In that tall lovely legacy of wood.
Henry then compares the tree's death to the deaths of thousands of men.


The poem’s message is that nature’s beauty should be protected and appreciated. In this way, the poet ironically critiques the assault on nature.