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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Laburnum Top - Meaning and Interpretation

The Poem "The Laburnum Top" is a beautiful poem by Ted Hughes.

In this poem, the poet has used the Laburnum tree and goldfinches as a symbol of life and its fluctuations.

He describes the visiting of goldfinches on the Laburnum tree and how she has made a nest on it.

When the goldfinches have chicks, it brings alive the tree as the chicks start to rustle and chirp.

Hughes is trying to convey the message that life is a process of  exchange and transformation.

People are alive because they undergo exchange of energy.

The goldfinches transform the tree and make it alive, without the goldfinches and the chicks the laburnum is just another tree.

The poem examines and articulates the inter relationship between soul and body through common symbols of bird and tree.

Though the body and the soul can be separate entities, they are absolutely complementary to each other-one without the other is incomplete.

It is in the interaction between the two lies the beauty, vigour and perfection of existence.

Thus the poem shows the states of existence both in the separation of the body and soul (beginning and end of the poem) and the (middle of the poem) union Which unmistakably and unambiguously provides the body-the tree- the vigour and the vitality mandatory for its life and its fulfillment.

There is an imagery of life and sustenance which is transported through the mother goldfinch to her young ones. She visits her young ones to feed them and assure them that she is there. It portends a yellow colour in the background of the laburnum leaves which speaks of warm but fading sunlight. It also indicates that the mother goldfinch has to fly far away at the close of autumn season. She also has to ensure a warm and secure winter for her young ones.

The laburnum tree symbolizes the pattern of our life in general. Life is seemingly dull and inanimate but it is the attitude of a person towards life that makes it meaningful and worth living. The goldfinch brings cheer, happiness and mirth to the simple and inanimate surroundings . Its happiness is infectious and all encompassing.


  1. Very picturesque description.message and central idea of the poem can be clearly visualised