1 Misho

The Laburnum Top Analysis Essay

The Laburnum Top

The Laburnum Top :

The Laburnum Top is silent, quite still

in the afternoon yellow September sunlight,

A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen

Till the goldfinch comes, with a twitching chirrup

A suddeness, 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 chitterings, and of tremor of wings,and trillings -

The whole tree trembles and thrills

It is the engine of her family.

She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch-end

Showing her barred face identity mask

Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings

She launches away, towards the infinite

And the laburnum subsides to empty

By Ted Hughes

Important Words :

Laburnum : The Golden Chain tree - A commonly found tree with golden flowers that hang in bunches

Laburnum Top : The top of the laburnum tree - its highest branches

Goldfinch : Wild canary - A small, yellow bird - The male of the species has black markings across the face, on the wings and tail.

Twitch : Small, often involuntary movement of a body part

Chirrup : An onomatopoeic word capturing the sound made by a bird

Startlement : Amazement - a sudden unexpected action which causes surprise

Sleek : Smooth - In the context of the poem, it could imply a quick movement without much disruption.

Abrupt : Sudden or unexpected

Chittering : An onomatopoeic word capturing bird sounds

Tremor : Shiver - shake

Trillings : Singing repeatedly - In the context of the poem, an onomatopoeic word, capturing bird sounds

Stokes : Adds fuel - In the context of the poem, the goldfinch feeds its family, providing the fuel (nutrition) that the machine (the bird's family) needs to be energetic

Flirts : In the context of the poem, move abruptly or jerkily with light steps

Eerie : Strange in a frightening or mysterious way

Infinite : In the context of the poem, the sky

Launches : In the context of the poem, flies

Subsides : Returns, reduces in intensity

The Laburnum Top

Your first paragraph ...


c) There is a comparison of the goldfinch with an animal. Which animal is that?

The goldfinch has been compared to a lizard, sleek and abrupt in its movements.

Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperingsShe launches away, towards the infiniteAnd the laburnum subsides to empty.a) Who has been described in the first line?

The goldfinch has been described in the first line.

b) What impression is created by the description?

The chirruping of the birds is delicate, soft and gentle like whispering. The referenceis to the sounds that the bird makes.

c) What effect does the last line create?

The last line shows the contrast between the liveliness of the tree and the silent tree.The tree becomes silent and empty when the bird flies away.

Then sleek as a lizard, and alert and abrupt,She enters the thickness, and a machine starts upOf chitterings and a tremor of wings, and trillingThe whole tree trembles and thrills.a) Who is ‘she’ in the first line? Where does she enter?

‘She’ is the goldfinch and she enters the thickness of the trees.


What is the ‘machine’ referred to in line 2?

The ‘machine’ refers to the young ones of the goldfinch. They suddenly starttwittering and chirruping as their mother comes to the nest to feed them.


Explain the meaning of the last line.

The tree was silent earlier but as the mother goldfinch comes to her nest, there is a lotof noise made by her young ones. The movement and the sounds produced are incontrast to the silence. The tree comes to life now.

The laburnum top is silent, quite stillIn the afternoon yellow September sunlight,A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen.a)

Name the poem and the poet.

The name of the poem is ‘The Laburnum Top’ and the poet is Ted Hughes.


Describe the laburnum tree.

The tree is silent and still. It has leaves that are yellowing and seeds have fallen.


What is the mood in these lines?

The mood is of peace, calm, quiet and silence. There is absolute stillness and peace.


Pick out the words that create the mood.

The words that create the mood are ‘silent’, ‘still’, ‘yellowing leaves’ and ‘fallenseeds’.

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