The Trees
Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
 Born 1922 – died 1985 of throat cancer
 Had a stammer as a young child.
 Graduated from Oxford university in 1943 and became a
 He was offered, but declined the position of Poet
Laureate in 1984.
 Known for having “glum-accuracy” in his poetry, and
often including ideas of death and fatalism.
Overview of The Trees
Relates the life of trees to human experience.
Trees dying and coming into leaf every year parallels the
idea of humans overcoming their mistakes and starting new
chapters of their life.
But that like in rings of grain in trees, the marks of past
experiences still remain as memories.
Shows that each chapter contains it own trials and
Hiding age
Beginning of new life
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
Message is so clear to the speaker that
The trees seem almost human
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Recent-new and not yet solidified
Trees are communicating,
making a statement
Releasing tension of
old memories
Grieving the loss of a past life
Is it that they are born again
Old age? Or death of
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Possessive – belongs to the
trees. ‘Trick’ is inaccessible
to humans.
Deception. Only appear to be young,
link with the human tendency to pretend
to be okay.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Recorded forever, previous
lives leave marks.
Humans - a habit of hiding
their emotions but they are
still there.
A cycle/pattern.
Happens again and
Shows the speaker is about to change the tone in
this stanza.
Ongoing, more emphasis
Majestic, everlasting.
on the second syllable.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh –
In fullgrown thickness every May.
9 syllables
Springtime –
new life
Gone, over, done with
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
Onomatopoeia – afresh,
repetition of ‘ss’ and ‘sh’
 A-B-B-A rhyme scheme – reflects the idea of life
beginning over again.
 8 syllables per line excluding line 9 which has 9
 8 is traditionally a symbol of infinity, which
connects to the theme of an on going cycle of life.
 Written in 3rd Person,
shows how people are
detached from the
natural world. Or that
the trees are keeping
secrets and we are
excluded. “Their yearly
trick of looking new”
 Personification of the
trees – by personifying
the trees, people can
relate the experience of
the trees back to their
own experiences.
 Repetition of “afresh”
echoes the idea of a
cycle. (note:
 Overcoming all obstacles, moving forward, not grieving for the
past, loss, ageing.
 Teaching us a lesson, of how to learn from trees and their ability
to lose their leaves and begin anew. “afresh”
 “their yearly trick of looking new”- idea of hiding their pain.
 3rd stanza – first line has 9 syllables shows a change in tone, from
loss to acceptance.
 One Art – Elizabeth
 From The Triumph of
Time – A.C.Swinburne
 A Dream – William
 The Trees are Down –
Charlotte Mew

The Trees - Wikispaces