When Great Trees Fall Summary


ICSE Class 10 English When Great Trees Fall Summary and Poem Explanation with difficult word meanings

When Great Trees Fall – Are you looking for Summary and Explanation for ICSE Class 10 English Poem When Great Trees Fall from Treasure Chest (A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories) book. Get notes, summary of the poem followed by line by line explanation of the lesson along with the meanings of difficult words.

  • When Great Trees Fall Introduction
  • Theme of the Lesson
  • Video Explanation of When Great Trees Fall
  • When Great Trees Fall Summary
  • When Great Trees Fall Summary in Hindi
  • When Great Trees Fall Explanation
  • Figures of Speech
  • Also See : ICSE Class 10 English When Great Trees Fall Question Answers


    When Great Trees Fall ICSE Class 10 English 

    By Maya Angelou


    When Great Trees Fall Introduction

    The poem ‘When Great trees Fall’ is emotional as it raises a similarity between nature and humans. The poet equates great trees with great men and wants to say that the loss of great men from the earth is significant just like the destruction of an old tree destabilizes equilibrium of the forest. The poem ends on a positive and comforting note that one can console oneself that once such great men existed around them. We can get inspiration from their lives and aim to be great like them.


    Theme of the Poem

    The poem highlights the inevitable feeling of sadness accompanied with the loss of great men. Gradually we overcome the loss and recover just like nature recovers from the loss of great trees. A positive outlook and an aim towards a better persona can be set as targets which are inspired by such great lives. 

    See Video of When Great Trees Fall


    Also See: ICSE Class 10 English Language and Literature Syllabus 2024-25

    When Great Trees Fall Summary

    The poet says that when an old, big tree uproots and falls, the Earth trembles and causes even the massive rocks to shudder. The fearless animals like the lions also hide behind the tall grass. Even the mighty elephants run in search for safer places. The smaller animals and insects hide and remain quiet. Their sense organs stop working due to the intense fear.
    Then she talks of the death of great men. When such souls depart, it becomes difficult for us to breathe. Our senses cannot work. Our vision is unclear and we realize the pain of such loss. We are reminded of the kindness of these souls, the unfulfilled promises which we will not be able to fulfil.
    The part of our life which is attached to these souls also ends. Our soul which was nurtured by them shrinks and our mind which was formed of their shining qualities falls apart. This does not make us mad with anger. However, it is so grave as if we are all alone in a dark cave of sadness.
    After this initial period of intense sadness and pain, there is peace. It comes slowly and gradually. There is a kind of electric vibration of tranquility. It energizes our senses which have an inner talk with us and say that the great souls once existed and now, we can also achieve that greatness. We can be great like them because once, they too existed.


    When Great Trees Fall Summary in Hindi

    कवि कहते हैं कि जब कोई पुराना, बड़ा पेड़ उखड़कर गिर जाता है, तो पृथ्वी कांपने लगती है और बड़ी-बड़ी चट्टानें भी कांपने लगती हैं। शेर जैसे निडर जानवर भी लंबी घास के पीछे छुपे रहते हैं। यहाँ तक कि शक्तिशाली हाथी भी सुरक्षित स्थानों की तलाश में भागते हैं। छोटे जानवर और कीड़े छिप जाते हैं और शांत रहते हैं। तीव्र भय के कारण उनकी इंद्रियाँ काम करना बंद कर देती हैं।
    फिर वह महापुरुषों की मृत्यु की बात करती है। जब ऐसी आत्माएं चली जाती हैं तो हमारे लिए सांस लेना मुश्किल हो जाता है। हमारी इंद्रियाँ काम नहीं कर सकतीं। हमारी दृष्टि अस्पष्ट है और हमें इस तरह के नुकसान के दर्द का एहसास है। हमें इन आत्माओं की दयालुता, अधूरे वादे याद दिलाए जाते हैं जिन्हें हम पूरा नहीं कर पाएंगे।
    हमारे जीवन का वह भाग भी समाप्त हो जाता है जो इन आत्माओं से जुड़ा होता है। हमारी आत्मा जो उनसे पोषित हुई थी वह सिकुड़ जाती है और हमारा मन जो उनके उज्ज्वल गुणों से बना था वह बिखर जाता है। इससे हम क्रोध से पागल नहीं हो जाते। हालाँकि, यह इतना गंभीर है मानो हम दुःख की अंधेरी गुफा में बिल्कुल अकेले हैं।
    तीव्र दुःख और दर्द की इस प्रारंभिक अवधि के बाद, शांति है। यह धीरे-धीरे आती है। शांति का एक प्रकार का विद्युत कंपन है। यह हमारी इंद्रियों को सक्रिय करता है जो हमारे साथ आंतरिक बातचीत करती हैं और कहती हैं कि महान आत्माएं एक समय अस्तित्व में थीं और अब, हम भी उस महानता को प्राप्त कर सकते हैं। हम उनके जैसे महान हो सकते हैं क्योंकि एक समय उनका भी अस्तित्व था।


    When Great Trees Fall Poem Explanation


    When great trees fall,
    rocks on distant hills shudder,
    lions hunker down
    in tall grasses,
    and even elephants
    lumber after safety.

    Word meanings:
    Shudder: tremble
    Hunker: squat
    Lumber: move slowly and awkwardly

    The poet says that in the forests, when big old trees fall down, the earth trembles which causes the huge rocks to tremble. This scares lions and elephants too, which are considered the most fearless animals. The lions hide behind tall grasses and the elephants move to safer places because the shivering indicates that a dangerous calamity is approaching.

    When great trees fall
    in forests,
    small things recoil into silence,
    their senses
    eroded beyond fear.

    Word meanings:
    Recoil: shrink
    Eroded: worn out

    She adds that when great trees fall down in the forests, the smaller animals and insects are fear stricken. They stop moving and become silent. Their faculties of sight, hear, etc stop working due to the intense fear.

    When great souls die,
    the air around us becomes
    light, rare, sterile.
    We breathe, briefly.
    Our eyes, briefly,
    see with
    a hurtful clarity.
    Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
    gnaws on kind words
    promised walks
    never taken.

    Word meanings:
    Rare: here, not in adequate quantity
    Sterile: here, not good to breathe
    Hurtful clarity: understanding which is painful
    Gnaws on: continues to remind us painfully
    Unsaid: words which remain unspoken

    Now in this stanza she talks of great men who die. The people who are left behind are grief sticken, unable to breathe. They feel that the air is polluted because they are not able to breathe because the heart is heavy with pain. They take small breaths and can hardly see because all the senses don’t work due to the intense pain. The eyes realise the pain of losing a loved one and this causes a lot of hurt. We are reminded of the kindness of those great souls who never spoke to them but their acts indicated their kind heart. We are reminded of the promises we had made perhaps, of going for a walk which could not be fulfilled for they have left forever.

    Great souls die and
    our reality, bound to
    them, takes leave of us.
    Our souls,
    dependent upon their
    now shrink, wizened.
    Our minds, formed
    and informed by their
    radiance, fall away.
    We are not so much maddened
    as reduced to the unutterable ignorance of
    dark, cold

    Word meanings:
    Bound: attached
    Nurture: care and encouragement
    Radiance: bright qualities
    Wizened: shrivelled
    Fall away: sag, slacken
    Dark cold caves: dark caves of despair

    She adds that when such great souls leave us, the part of our life that was attached to them also ends. Our soul which got their care also gets shrunk due to lack of that care. Our mind which was made up of their shining qualities also starts to fall apart. It is not that we are angry that they have left us but it is much more. She says that it is like we are alone in a dark cave which is full of sadness and hopelessness.

    And when great souls die,
    after a period peace blooms,
    slowly and always
    irregularly. Spaces fill
    with a kind of
    soothing electric vibration.
    Our senses, restored, never
    to be the same, whisper to us.
    They existed. They existed.
    We can be. Be and be
    better. For they existed

    Word meanings:
    Soothing: comforting
    Restored: brought back

    Then she adds that when a great soul dies, after a gap, one experiences peace. It is a slow and gradual process.There is a kind of electric vibration which surrounds us and soothes us. The senses start working again but they are not the same as before. They impact of the loss changes them. There is an inner talk which inspires us that the great men existed in the past and similarly, even we can become great. It motivates us to be better and great like those great souls which once existed.


    Figures of Speech

    1. Extended metaphor – When an indirect comparison between the quality of two things is seen throughout a poem.
    Trees have been compared to men.

    2. Enjambment – when the same sentence continues to the next line without the use of punctuation mark at the end of the line

    3. Alliteration – the repetition of a consonant sound at the start of two or more consecutive words.
    Breathe, briefly
    Much maddened

    4. Repetition – the repeated use of a sentence or a word to emphasize on it
    When great trees fall
    When great souls die
    They existed, they existed
    Be and be

    Also See: 

    ICSE Class 10 English Summary, Explanation



    ICSE Class 10 English Important Question Answers