Laburnum – Poem Analysis and Summary

'The Laburnum' by Meera Uberoi Poem Analysis

Laburnum Poem Analysis Summary

The Laburnum is written by Meera Uberoi (1952-2012), one of India’s best known children’s writer. Before beginning with the summary and detailed analysis, it is advised that you read the text of the poem once. Read poem.


The poem is about the laburnum tree. The poet describes the tree as unremarkable and ordinary, only to accentuate its beauty and individuality. The poet compares the yellow laburnum with gold, topaz and sunshine. The poem is a celebration of nature and its beauty, and also a reflection of the poet’s own feelings and emotions. The poet shows her love and appreciation for the laburnum tree, which brightens everyone’s day and fills hearts with joy. The poem tries to establish the idea that each and every creation of God is unique in itself and has a different beauty, be it crows or laburnum. It also encourages the readers to find beauty in and appreciate the nature.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Indian Laburnum/Amaltaas
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Line by Line Explanation and Analysis

Just down the road from where I live
a lone laburnum grows.
It does not advertise itself,
unlike the cawing crows.

But like the cawing crows, you’d say,
there’s nothing to this tree –
its height is unremarkable,
its leaves so ordinary.

The poet introduces the laburnum tree which grows near her home, as a solitary plant. The phrase ‘lone laburnum’ not only tells about its being the only tree there, but also highlights that people pass without paying much attention to it. She compares and contrasts the laburnum tree with crows, saying that while both are ordinary, the crow caws to make feel its presence but the laburnum, being humble and modest, not even does that. Even its height is unremarkable to grab anyone’s eyes towards it. Thus, the lines highlight the indifference of people towards the laburnum tree. She uses the words “unremarkable” and “ordinary” to show that the laburnum tree does not stand out or impress anyone.

But comes the summer, golden light
is trapped within the tree.
In May, the crystallized sunbeams
break out for all to see.

The thundery grey sky casts its gloom
on everything in sight,
But the little tree is quite untouched –
it burns with topaz light.

The poet shifts the tone and mood of the poem from the previous stanzas.

She introduces the summer season, to highlight how the tree undergoes a transformation. The poet says that the golden light of the sun is captured by the tree, implying that the tree has a hidden potential and beauty. She specifies the month of May, when the laburnum tree blooms with yellow flowers. Further, she describes the yellow flowers as ‘crystallized sunbeams’, suggesting that they are bright and sparkling. She says that the flowers break out for all to see, meaning that they are visible and attractive to everyone. This line completely overturns the previous description of laburnum as unremarkable and ordinary.

Further, the poet contrasts the laburnum tree with the sky. She says that the sky casts its gloom on everything in sight, implying that the weather is depressing and dull. But, the laburnum tree, this time, stands out in a positive way. She says that the little tree is quite untouched, meaning that it is unaffected and resilient to the gloomy atmosphere. It burns with topaz light, that is, it shines with a bright and warm yellow color, against the grey sky. She uses the word “topaz” to refer to a precious gemstone, indicating that the laburnum tree is valuable and beautiful.

Flowers of sunshine cloak the tree
and dazzle every eye
and every puff of a wayward breeze
drops gold on passersby.

Even the beggar down the street
smiles when he sees this tree.
And for some moments he can feel
a joy that comes for free.

The poet describes the yellow flowers as ‘flowers of sunshine’, to imply that the laburnum flowers are so beautiful and bright, they appear to be personified sunshine, which dazzle every eye, just like the sunshine does. The next lines describe how even a light breeze makes the flowers fall. The poet says that it appears as if the gracious tree is gifting gold to passersby. The ‘gold’ here is used not only to describe the yellow colour of the flower, it also implies that the laburnum flowers give the same happiness to everyone as finding a gold treasure would do.

The next line adds weight to this point by describing how a beggar smiles on seeing the tree. He feels a joy while looking at the laburnum tree, similar to the one he would have felt on getting money. The poet thus implies that the laburnum tree is a source of happiness and joy for everyone, regardless of their social status or situation.

Laburnum Poem Analysis Summary

Structure and Form

The poem has six stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABCB in each stanza. The language is simple and descriptive, to create vivid images of the laburnum tree and its surroundings. The poet also uses some poetic devices, such as personification, simile, metaphor, and alliteration, to enhance the beauty and meaning of the poem.

The poem follows a chronological order, starting from the winter season, when the laburnum tree is bare and silent, to the summer season, when the laburnum tree is full of yellow flowers and joy. The poem uses contrast and comparison to highlight the changes in the laburnum tree and its surroundings. For example, the poet contrasts the laburnum tree with the crows and the sky.

Laburnum Poem Analysis Summary

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