Our Casuarina Tree Summary by Toru Dutt

The poem is an ode to the Casuarina tree that the poetess had in her garden back in her motherland. The memory of the tree is the only link she has left with her past and the cheerfulness of her formative years.

The first stanza describes the tree having rough skin and being garlanded by a vine having flowers. It rings around the trunk like a snake. This describes the strength and courage of the tree which is still standing tall.

The tree seems to symbolize vitality which is transmitted to the flowers which attract bees and birds to the tree. The whole scene is of a harmonious whole with each part being inextricably linked to the tree.

In the second stanza, new animals like baboon and birds are introduced that extol the beauty and nourishing nature of the tree. Even the tree’s shadow provides refuge to the lazy cattle around and flowering lilies in the water tank.

The next stanza builds on the importance of the tree as new relationships are established. The poetess’ siblings are brought in the scene where she remembers the playful and cheerful moments that the three shared under the same tree.

This realization is quickly stunted with the news of their death (siblings) which is described as a form of sleep. However, she has faith that they all be reunited after the brief spell of the false sleep of death. They all will enjoy the same fun and games in the garden of Eden in Paradise.

But the poem does not limit itself to the world of unseen and turns back to the living world. The poetess describes the lingering image that the tree has that she senses it even in distant places like Europe. She wants the tree to be admired in this world for generations to come. She wants the tree to continuously shine as a beacon of joy, togetherness and tranquillity.

She envisages immortalizing the magic of the tree and its unforgettable memories in honour of her siblings. She even considers her own demise but with a ray of hope.

She is optimistic that the tree can live through generations much like the ‘Yew trees of Borrowdale’ in the words of William Wordsworth. She hopes the tree can outlive the forces of age and space and be cherished and celebrated long after she is gone. 

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