The Old Poplar

: Fables For Children, Stories For Children, Natural Science Stori

For five years our garden was neglected. I hired labourers with axes and

shovels, and myself began to work with them in the garden. We cut out

and chopped out all the dry branches and wild shoots, and the

superfluous trees and bushes. The poplars and bird-cherries grew ranker

than the rest and choked the other trees. A poplar grows out from the

roots, and it cannot be dug out, but the roots have to be chopped out


Beyond the pond there stood an enormous poplar, two men's embraces in

circumference. About it there was a clearing, and this was all overgrown

with poplar shoots. I ordered them to be cut out: I wanted the spot to

look more cheerful, but, above all, I wanted to make it easier for the

old poplar, because I thought that all those young trees came from its

roots, and were draining it of its sap. When we cut out these young

poplars, I felt sorry as I saw them chop out the sap-filled roots

underground, and as all four of us pulled at the poplar that had been

cut down, and could not pull it out. It held on with all its might, and

did not wish to die. I thought that, no doubt, they had to live, since

they clung so much to life. But it was necessary to cut them down, and

so I did it. Only later, when nothing could be done, I learned that they

ought not to have been cut down.

I thought that the shoots were taking the sap away from the old poplar,

but it turned out quite differently. When I was cutting them down, the

old poplar was already dying. When the leaves came out, I saw (it grew

from two boughs) that one bough was bare; and that same summer it dried

up completely. The tree had been dying for quite awhile, and the tree

knew it, so it tried to give its life to the shoots.

That was the reason why they grew so fast. I wanted to make it easier

for the tree, and only killed all its children.