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The Trees

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For many people, the way trees change throughout the seasons is something they notice, and sometime that is connected to time passing in our own lives, as in this short poem. Look at what parts of the poem seem quite sad to you, but how the final line is so positive with its repetition of ‘afresh’. Your speaking of the poem could highlight this sadness and positivity– how could your pace or your tone of voice, or perhaps the volume help you do that in quite a subtle way? The simile in the first two lines is powerful, and you might want to slow line 2 down to allow the reader to grasp the idea of something ‘almost being said’. Where might you put a brief pause in line 2 to help get the power of that simile across? How will you speak the last line of the poem to convey that positivity and sense of a future?

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The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

The Trees

by Philip Larkin