Through the poem, the laburnum top the poet wants us to explain a bond between the Laburnum Top tree and the Goldfinch Bird. the tree is yellow and silent like it is dead but very soon it comes alive by the entry of the bird and her young ones. The little yellow bird in her shelter feeds her young ones but as soon she left the tree, it again becomes silent and death-like again.
The Laburnum Top Summary: About The Poet
Ted Hughes, also known by the name of Edward J. Hughes born in England. He was an English poet who was famous for using animals in his poems. He also found in Anthropology and folklore. Some of his works include The Hawk In The Rain, Lupercal, etc. he also someway in the middle of his career stopped writing poems following Plath’s Suicide.
Through this poem, The Laburnum Top he tries to convey to the readers that with the entry of the Goldfinch bird the top of The laburnum tree comes to life, and after she launches away, the tree again becomes still and silent like death.
The Laburnum Top Summary: Central Idea
The poet starts the poem with the introduction of the Laburnum Top tree who is still and silent. Its leaves have turned yellowish and had started to fall off the tree in the month of September, the tree looks like death and is very quiet.
Then the poet said that the tree becomes alive when a Goldfinch bird came there to feed her young ones in the thickness of the branch. She comes thereby chirping and moves to the other side of the branch. She with a rapid motion goes deep into the branch to her young ones. Her movement is compared with a lizard. As soon she enters, her young ones start their movement like a machine and flap their wings.
The tree got its motion and life when the bird enters and as soon as the bird flies away the tree again becomes lifeless.
Let’s get started with this beautiful poem and get into the world of imagination about nature.
The Laburnum top is silent, quite still In the afternoon yellow September sunlight, A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen.
The above lines of the first stanza say that the poet has seen a Laburnum Top whose leaves were yellowish and pale. The top of the tree was still and silent like it remains in the month of September. The poem is set in A autumn season and all the tree has shed its seeds and leaves. The poet has used the word ‘ yellow’ for the leaves and the sunshine. Yellow here in the poem also signifies silence, death, and beauty. He describes the poem and the scene by using the colors of nature.
- Laburnum – a short tree with hanging branches, yellow flowers, and poisonous seeds
Till the goldfinch comes, with a twitching chirrup A suddenness, a startlement, at a branch end. Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt, She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up Of chitterlings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings — The whole tree trembles and thrills.
A goldfinch bird comes and sets the tree alive by chirping and its motion. The bird with its rapid movement sits at one end of the branch. And as she moved to the other end her young ones start to chirp and make the tree alive . they all make a sound like a moving machine with their flapping wings. The bird’s movement is compared to a lizard.
Because of these movements, the tree got its movements, and it shakes thrills and trembles. The poet by this meant that being a death-like figure the Laburnum Top has given life and shelter to nurture the little ones.
- Goldfinch – a small singing birds with yellow feathers on its wings
- Twitching – sudden jerk movement
- Chirrup – a bird making repeated high pitched sounds
- Startlement – feeling or showing sudden shock
- Abrupt – sudden
- Chitterings – to make a chattering sound
- Tremor of wings – involuntary vibration of the wings
- Trillings – to produce a chirruping sound
- Trembles – to shake
- Thrills – a vibratory movement; a sudden feeling of excitement
It is the engine of her family. She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch-end Showing her barred face identity mask
The tree and the Goldfinch bird is the engine of her family and provides food to their little ones as she moves from one branch to the other. Her dark-colored body with the stripped face is not visible. Her body is also yellow in color and hides behind the branches but her movements make the tree alive and trembles and thrills it.
- Flirts out – lead on to
- Stokes – to add fuel to the engine
- Barred – stripy
Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings She launches away, towards the infinite And the laburnum subsides to empty.
After reaching the end of the branch of the tree, the bird makes a very sweet chirping sound and it feels like she is whispering and flies away very far from the tree. Leaving the tree again death-like silent and still.
- Eerie – weird and strange
- Whistle-chirrup – a gentle whisper
- Subsides – diminishes; vanishes
Literary devices used in the poem
- Alliteration – September sunlight; tree trembles
- Simile – Sleek as a lizard
- Metaphor – “She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up” – the noise created by the movement of the birds as compared to the machine’s noise “It is the engine of her family.” “Showing her barred face identity mask”
- Personification – The whole tree trembles and thrills.
- Transferred Epithet – her barred face identity mask
NCERT Solutions For Class 11 Poem The Laburnum Top
Q1. What laburnum is called in your language?
(Answers will vary)
Q2. Which local bird is like the goldfinch?
Birds that sing very sweetly and in a melodious tone. In India, the local bird-like goldfinch is the House Sparrow, the Bulbul, the Himalayan Cuckoo, the Asian Koel, etc.
The Laburnum Top Think it out
Q1. What do you notice about the beginning and the ending of the poem?
The poem begins with silence and stillness as the laburnum top was still and lifeless. The ending is different as again the top of the laburnum tree is still and quiet.
Q2. To what is the bird’s movement compared? What is the basis for the comparison?
The bird’s movement is compared with that of a reptile-like lizard as the bird also slithers and its sleek movement is just like a lizard.
Q3.Why is the image of the engine evoked by the poet?
The poet compares the goldfinch bird to that of an engine because as soon as it enters the tree in her nest, the tree becomes alive with the chirruping of the little ones. Their tremor of wings and twittering instills life into the lifeless tree.
Q4. What do you like most about the poem?
I actually like that the poet has beautifully described the tree and the movement of the little bird with his usage of words and metaphors. The poem begins with silence and stillness and ends also the same way when the bird left the tree.
Q5. What does the phrase “her barred face identity mask” mean?
The goldfinch was covered with fur of different colors which looks like it has worn a mask.
- the sound words
Chirrup, the machine starts up, chitterlings, whistle-chirrup whisperings, trillings, engine, stokes it fully, subsides to empty.
- the movement words
Seeds fallen, sleek as a lizard, enter the thickness, tremor of wings, tree trembles, and thrills, flirts out to a branch-end, she launches away.
- the dominant color in the poem.
The Laburnum tree has yellowing leaves, sitting still in the afternoon yellow sunlight. The goldfinch, a bird full of yellow feathers flies onto its branches to sit and sing. The dominant color in all the descriptions in the poem is yellow.
The Laburnum Top List the following
Q1. Words that describe ‘sleek’, ‘alert’, and ‘abrupt’.
Sleek – Smooth, Polished, Effortless
Alert – Watchful, Careful, Brisk, Active
Abrupt – Hasty, Quick, Sudden, Rushed
Q2. Words with the sound ‘ch’ as in ‘chart’ and ‘tr’ as in ‘trembles’ in the poem.
Words with ‘Ch’ – Chirrup, Chitterlings, Whistle-Chirrup
Words with ‘Tr’ – Tremor, Trillings, Tree, Trembles, Thrills
Q3. Other sounds occur frequently in the poem.
‘St’ – Still, Startlement, Starts up
‘-ings’ – Chitterlings, Wings, Trillings, Whisperings
Conclusion of The Laburnum Top Summary
The poem ‘The Laburnum Top’ is written by Ted Hughes and the poet wants to convey a symbiotic relationship between the Tre and the bird. The tree, as usual, is silent and a death-like figure but as soon the bird comes it gets its life.
The tree provides the bird and her young ones food and shelter and in return, the bird along with her little ones sets the tree in motion by twitching and flapping its wings. As soon as the bird launches away the tree again becomes a still and death-like figure.