Introducing the Author:
In the world of Children’s Literature, Ruskin Bond is one name whose simplicity of prose and ingenuity of imagination can fascinate the mind of any child reader. To begin with, his stories are as simple as the mind that reads it, his imagery sketching a vivid and colorful canvas as you turn the pages, his descriptions more like a picture in the storybook that at no point gets dull and similar. The beauty of reading Bond is that one doesn’t have to struggle at every line with its vocabulary and as the reading is quite unhindered one can enjoy the story rather than diverting the attention every now and then towards the dictionary, thus, unconsciously enhancing the vocabulary, literary and creative aptitude of the child.
The Cherry Tree
Eight year have passed
Since I placed my cherry seed in the grass.
“Must have a tree of my own,” I said,
And watered it once and went to bed
And forgot; but cherries have a way of growing,
Though no one’s caring very much or knowing.
And suddenly that summer near the end of May,
I found a tree had come to stay.
It was very small, five months child,
Lost in the tall grass running wild.
Goats ate the leaves, the grass cutter’s scythe
Split it apart and a monsoon blight
Shrivelled the slender stem…… Even so,
Next spring I watched three new shoots grow,
The young tree struggle, upward thrust
Its arms in a fresh fierce lust
For light and air and sun.
I could only wait, as one
Who watched, wandering, while Time and the rain
Made a miracle from green growing pain…….
I went away next year-
Spent a season in Kashmir—
Came back thinner, rather poor,
But richer by a cherry tree at my door.
Six feet high my own dark cherry,
And- I could scarcely believe it-a berry.
Ripended and jeweled in the sun,
Hung from a branch—just one!
And next year there were blossoms small
Pink, fragile, quick to fall
At the merest breath, the sleepiest breeze. …..
I lay on the grass, at ease,
Looking up through leaves at the blue
Blind sky, at the finches as they flew
And flitted through the dappled green.
While bees in an ecstasy drank
Of nector from each bloom and the sun sank
Swiftly, and the stars turned in the sky,
And moon-moths and singing crickets and I—
Yes, I!— praised Night and Stars and tree:
That small, the cherry, grown by me.
Cherry Tree is a poem about the ecstasy of the poet over a cherry plant which he has seeded eight years ago. In the poem, Bond expresses his wonder at the ways of nature and how it takes care of itself to survive against all odds. Eight year ago, the poet planted a cherry seed out of whim to have a plant of his own, ‘Must have a tree of my own’. The young poet watered it daily but was unaware of the fact that cherry plant needs other special care too to grow into a healthy tree. In spite of getting any special attention, by the end of May, the poet saw the small cherry sapling coming out of the ground. It was a very small plant, young and fragile, vulnerable to all kinds of external dangers. Tall wild grasses grew all around it and ‘the goats’ ate its ‘leaves’ and then one day the grass cutter’s blade mercilessly ‘split it apart’. Its tender stem also bravely fought the heavy monsoon and even after all these, the poet saw new shoots growing out of it as the young tree made its struggle against nature to survive and fiercely made an ‘upward thrust’ to get ‘light and air and sun’.
The poet could now just wait and watch while he took pleasure on seeing his small cherry plant blossoming into a tree as ‘Time and the rain’ nourished it and like a miracle the tree grew, too stubborn to give up. Then it was time for the poet to bid adieu to his beloved tree as he went to Kashmir to spend a season there. The poet returned after a few months poor in health and heart but was overjoyed to find a ‘six feet high’ dark cherry tree at his doorstep. To his disbelief, he saw a small berry fruit hanging from a branch, ‘Hung from a branch—just one!’, a small little pink and fragile berry that could fall at the single stir of wind.
In his ecstasy, the poet “lay on the grass” whole day at leisure to look up to the cherry tree as the “finches” flew past and birds flocked in and out of the tree and the bees drank nectar from each ‘bloom’. Soon it was dark and stars lit the whole night sky and the ‘moon-moths’ and crickets sang. As the poet enjoyed the rapture of nature and felt himself akin with it, he marveled at his own creation, the small cherry plant that has grown into a big tree over the span of eight years. In the ending couplet, the poet associates himself with the nature and creator, as he takes pride for being part of it, “Yes, I!- praised Night and Stars and tree:/ That small, the cherry, grown by me.” Cherry Tree, is therefore, the poet’s rumination about the ways of nature as it participate in the process of creation, the struggle of each living object for the ‘upward thrust’, to fight and survive despite all odds, the microcosm journey towards the macrocosm.
scythe – mowing and reaping tool with slightly long curved blade attached to a handle, blight – a plant disease, typically one caused by fungi such as mildews, rusts, and smuts, shrivelled – wrinkled or shrunken due to lack of moisture, slender – thin, struggle – making forceful against odds, thrust – to push with sudden impulse or force, fierce – displaying a violent urge, lust – strong desire, miracle – a welcoming or happy event developing by chance that cannot be explained with reason or science, scarcely – almost not, ripended (ripen) – become or make ripe, jeweled – adorned with jewels, blossoms – bloom, fragile – weak, finches – a small passorine bird, flitted – pass lightly, softly or rapidly, dappled – marked with rounded patches, ecstasy – a feeling of greatest happiness, nector – a sweet fluid secreted by plants, moon-moths – a large pale long green moth, crickets – an insect, characteristic for its musical chirping sound.
Source: Ruskin Bond’s Book of Verse