What is immediately obvious to me in Charlotte Mew’s ‘The Trees are down’ is the powerful, detailed description of her thoughts and feelings towards barbaric men slaughtering “great plain trees”. Charlotte uses ‘sound’ words to illustrate the saw as it penetrates the bark of the trees, using words such as “grate” and “crack”. The poet tells of how the trees “whisper” to one another suggesting that they are alive and friends of hers, and by cutting down these trees, they are not only oppressing a whole community, but the men are also destroying her femininity as they are carting the “whispering loveliness” away.
My thoughts on the men’s attitudes towards the trees as they are cutting them down, is that they are very cheerful, as if they have no consideration towards the feelings of the trees as they are putting them to their death. The poet believes the workingmen are murderers as they have “carted the whole of the whispering loveliness away”.
I think she also blames the men for her emotional pain of hiding her lesbian identity as she lived in a male dominated society and she was not free to express or share her sexuality with the rest of the world. However she does not mention her lesbianism in this poem but encodes the mental pain of hiding her sexuality in dramatic monologues on themes of destruction and loss.
This poem is set in the present tense. However in the second stanza is a flashback in which she recalls, “finding a large dead rat in the mud of the drive”.
I think that this flashback is suggesting that if a dead rat can ‘unmake the spring, then how much more destruction will the felling of the trees make? I believe that this makes the poet feel angered towards the men as they are destroying beautiful creations, which were meant to live for many years to come.
When the trees have been felled and “Carted” away, the poet feels as if by removing healthy lush green trees “half the spring, for me, will have gone with them”. Charlotte uses rhyme to create a miserable atmosphere. She repeats how she will miss the tress and how “there was only as quiet rain when they were dying”, which is the last type of weather they will experience. The strong rhyme (Spring… thing)(drive…alive) adds yet further the images they create.
My opinion of why this event affected the poet so much is the quote from the book of revelation at the top of the poem. “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees” This revelation is taken from the last book of the bible, which is describing the end of the world, and how hurting gods creations is an act of sacrilege. I think Charlotte Mew is thinking, by cutting down the trees the men are helping toward the end of the world, they are being warned.
The first verse of ‘A piece of paper’ is describing an empty lone piece of paper in need of “someone to talk to”. The poet’s general voice in the poem is pitiful towards the paper, however at the end, Julia becomes angered toward the paper. The poet feels sadness towards the trees and the total destruction of them. She is ashamed that a member of the human race could do such a thing to living things. “And I felt ashamed”. But after some consideration about the information the piece of paper has shared with her, she felt angered because she “had problems enough // without // Guilt”. She blames herself for the papers misery.
The poet varies between quite long sentences and short, abrupt one-word sentences. She tends to use the longer sentences like “Who had felled the trees” to create a gloomy atmosphere and when she is pitying the paper, however she uses short snappy sentences (“without” and “Guilt”) to generate rage toward the paper. The decreasing line length in the poem is very significant as the poet is becoming increasingly angered, she becomes gradually weakened.
Poem 2 “A Piece of Paper” is mainly about how by the poet tearing up the piece of paper, she’s actually tearing up herself. “I tore up myself”, Where as Poem 1 ” The Trees are Down” is all about the destruction of tress and how, by the men taking away the trees, they are also taking away a piece of the poet. ” A Piece of Paper” mainly focuses on Biggs herself as she uses “I…myself” where as in “The Trees Are Down” Mew is telling the story about the trees “They…Trees” The poem I like the most is “The trees are down” because the poet gives a detailed description of every step of the destruction from the beginning (Felling of the trees) to the end (Carting them away). I find this much more effective as she gradually reveals what is happening rather than using Short, snappy sentences to build tension as she gradually becomes the paper.