Heartwood Questions & Answers

Hi Everyone!! This article will share Heartwood Questions & Answers.

This poem is written by Robert Macfarlane. In my previous posts, I have shared the questions and answers of The Little Mechanic, A Sea Of Foliage and An Unknown Friend so, you can check these posts as well.

Heartwood Questions & Answers

Word Galaxy

  • Heartwood – the hard and dense inner part of a tree trunk
  • Hew – cut down with an axe
  • Mutter – words spoken in a low voice – especially to express a worry or complain – which may not be heard
  • Sap – the juice that flows inside a living plant
  • Brash – small pieces cut from hedges and trees

Question 1: Who is the speaker of the poem? Who is being addressed?

Answer: The speaker of the poem is a tree. The tree is addressing a woodcutter who has come to cut down the tree.

Question 2: Read and answer the questions:

Put an ear to my bark, cutter

(a) Why does the speaker ask the cutter to put his ear to the bark?

Answer: The speaker asks the cutter to put his ear to the bark so that he can try to hear the soft sound of the sap flowing inside the tree.

(b) What else does the speaker request the cutter to do?

Answer: The speaker also requests the cutter to listen to the flutter of the tree’s leaves and try to imagine the heartbeat of the tree.

(c) Which other question does the speaker ask right after this, in the third stanza?

Answer: In the third stanza, the speaker asks the cutter whether he would turn the living tree into timber – if he would reduce the tree to a heap of logs and a pile of brash.

Question 3: The word ‘open hearted’ means kind and honest. What could the word mean in this context.

Answer: In this context, the word ‘open hearted’ means wounded, hurt and open to pain and damage.

Question 4: The speaker compares herself to places. Name the three places the speaker identifies with and explain why she identifies with them.

Answer: In the fourth and fifth stanzas, the speaker calls herself a world, a city of butterflies and a country of creatures. She calls herself a world because as a big and strong tree, with her fruits, flowers, leaves, branches and the different creatures that live in the tree and depend on her, she is a world in herself. She is a city of butterflies as many butterflies must be visiting her, living near or in the tree. She is a country of creatures as different kinds of creatures live among her branches and roots, such as birds, squirrels and different kinds of insects.

Heartwood Questions & Answers

Question 5: Read and answer the questions:

Do you hear these words I utter?

(a) Why does the speaker ask this question? Why is it a very important question?

Answer: The speaker asks this question because she is not sure whether she has been able to communicate her thoughts and worries to the cutter. It is a very important question – it is important whether the cutter can or cannot hear the question – because only if he hears what the tree has to say can he decide to not cut down.

(b) How can the listener hear the words of the speaker? Would he have to listen very carefully o would he need something else?

Answer: To really hear the words of the speaker, that is, to understand the concerns and fears of the speaker, the cutter needs patience, kindness and imagination. He needs to stop and think about how beneficial the tree is to different creatures, he needs to see and imagine how strong and beautiful and important it is. Then only he realise the things that the tree is saying and decide to not cut the tree. He cannot actually hear the tree speak.

Question 6: Read the sixth stanza. How does the speaker show herself to be both mighty and vulnerable at the same time?

Answer: In the sixth stanza, the tree says that her world takes years to grow and seconds to destroy. She can be felled by an axe or a saw. The tree is mighty because she has grown big and strong over the years. At the same time, she is vulnerable as in spite of her size and strength, a saw or an axe can break her down in a very short time.

Question 7: Why does the speaker call herself a maker of life?

Answer: The speaker calls herself a maker of life because trees are beneficial to life. This is because trees are beneficial to life. Trees attract rainfall and roots help to break down big rocks. The roots of trees help the soil to absorb rainwater, a caster of shade because the tree provides shade, an eater of sun because a tree needs sunlight to grow. She is breath-giver because she provides us with oxygen which we breathe in.

So, these were Heartwood Questions & Answers.