Unseen Passage

For Class 4 to Class 12

The Laburnum Top Class 11 English Notes

Please refer to The Laburnum Top Class 11 English Notes and summary provided below. The following summary and solved questions have been designed as per the latest syllabus and books issued by CBSE, NCERT, and KVS. By going through and learning the below notes for Class 11 English you will be able to understand the entire chapter and easily solve questions in your exams. Also, refer to the Class 11 English Chapter Summary for all chapters in your textbooks.

Class 11 English The Laburnum Top Summary and Questions

The following The Laburnum Top Class 11 English Notes and questions answers will help you to easily learn the entire chapter. You will be able to solve all questions in upcoming Class 11 English exams and score better marks


This short poem just depicts a scene in the wilderness. Laburnum tree stands there, silent and still. It has a nest built on it. The little mother bird goldfinch arrives to meet and feed her young ones. Sitting at one end of a branch, it gives a signal sound. The young ones recognise their mother’s voice and start chirping together like some engine. The bird, alert and swift, makes her way to the nest. When the purpose of her visit to meet and feed the little ones is accomplished, she flies away. This is how the cycle of life and multiplication goes on in nature. It is all instinctive. The mother bird makes her nest amongst the thick leaves of a tree. It brings up her chicks until they are strong enough to fly and find their food on their own.


This poem is all about poet’s experience of observing a ‘Laburnum Tree’ whereon he finds dead silence in the month of September on a pleasant day with a few of its leave turning yellow and all the seeds fallen on the ground.

Later on, he gets to see a bird (Goldfinch) coming and sitting on the branch-end and entering the thickness of the tree like a lizard. Thereafter, a lot of twitter is heard by him made by the young goldfinches that seem to be very excited and joyous on the arrival of their mother.

According to the poet, Goldfinch comes and brings a lot of food in her beak and quenches the hunger of her young ones. Having observed the bird, the poet says that she acts as a machine and engine for her family. Finally, after feeding her young ones, she launches her to the sky to bring more food for them. In this way, the poet describes the hardships of life through the depiction of the poem ‘The Laburnum Top’.

Short Questions

Question. ‘The whole tree trembles and thrills’. Explain the poetic device used by the poet.
Answer: The poetic device used is ‘alliteration’. Tree trembles and thrills signify that the arrival of the goldfinch on the laburnum top is responsible for the movement and the activities on the tree. The tree has suddenly sprung to life and there is shaking and thrilling movement on it. Personification is also used as a poetic device in ‘Tree trembles’.

Question. ‘It is the engine of her family, she strokes it full.’ Explain the significance of these lines.
Answer: The goldfinch has been called the engine of her family. Just as the engine starts up the machine, her arrival in the nest has suddenly started up the silent machine i.e. the young ones have started chittering and making noise. The expression ‘She stokes itfull’ means that she has fed the young ones who now have the energy to become active and make noise.

Question. She launches away, towards the infinite’. Explain the given line.
Answer: ‘She’ stands for the goldfinch whose arrival on the tree has suddenly transformed it into a noisy place. After having fed her young ones and having made the tree active and full of life, the goldfinch flies away towards the infinitely vast sky.

Question. Why is the image of the engine evoked by the poet?
Answer: The poet creates the imagery of a machine starting up when the goldfinch arrives in the tree. The sudden noise and movements produced by the young ones are like the starting of a machine. The stoking of the engine is actually the act of feeding the young ones and imparting energy and life into them.

Question. Why has the poem been named ‘The Laburnum Top’?
Answer: The poem has been named ‘The Laburnum Top’ because the top of the tree has been described in detail by the poet and the second part is a vivid description of the transformation that the tree undergoes. The entire scenario revolves around the tree.

Question. Explain the first three lines of the poem ‘The Laburnum Top’.
Answer: The laburnum is the tree whose top part is silent due to lack of movement. There is no breeze and hence there is no rustling of leaves. The time of the day is afternoon. The month is September, and the season is autumn season. The leaves of the tree have started decaying and turning yellow as they are about to fall. The seeds of the laburnum fruit have also fallen.

Question. What do you notice about the beginning and the ending of the poem?
Answer: The beginning of the poem describes a silent laburnum tree which has no noise, movement or life. The ending is also similar where the goldfinch flies away into the vast sky. But the middle part of the poem shows us a totally transformed tree with noise of the young ones compared to a machine.

Question. Why did the goldfinch enter the thickness of the laburnum tree? Quote the line or words that support your answer.
Answer: The goldfinch entered the thickness of the laburnum tree because it had to reach its nest where its young ones were waiting to be fed by her. The lines that support the answer are ‘a machine starts up’, ‘of chitterings and a tremor of wings and trillings’

Question. How is the tree transformed during the bird’s visit? Write the line that shows this transformation.
Answer: The tree suddenly starts trembling and moving as if a machine has started up. This is due to the arrival of the goldfinch in her nest in order to feed her young ones. The young ones start their chitterings. There is a tremor of wings. The line that shows the transformation is ‘a machine starts up, of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings- the whole tree trembles and thrills.

Question. To what is the movement of the goldfinch compared? What is the basis for the comparison?
Answer: The goldfinch’s movement is compared to that of a lizard. The basis of the comparison is the sleek, abrupt and alert movements of a lizard. The same kinds of movements are observed when the goldfinch arrives on the laburnum tree.

Question. Describe the laburnum top.
Answer: The leaves of the laburnum top are turning yellow due to the autumn. Its seeds have fallen and there is a silence prevailing over the tree. There is no movement at all.

Question. What happened when the goldfinch came to the laburnum tree?
Answer: The arrival of the goldfinch brought about a sudden change in the tree. The young ones started twittering and there was a lot of noise, commotion and movement on the tree.

Question. What does the phrase ‘her barred face identity mask’ means?
Answer: This is an example of the poetic device – transferred epithet. The laburnum tree has flowers that fall like bars and when the bird sits behind the flowers the shadow on her face looks like she is wearing a mask that has bars on it. So, barred – is actually an adjective for the flowers and has been transferred from there and applied to the bird.

Question. Explain the line ‘And the laburnum subsides to empty’.
Answer: This is the last line of the poem depicting the sudden silence which falls over the laburnum tree when the goldfinch flies away after feeding its young ones. It had been on the tree for sometime and the tree had suddenly become lively and noisy but after its departure, the tree becomes silent again.

Question. ‘Then sleek as a lizard and alert and abrupt, she enters the thickness’. Explain the given lines.
Answer: The lizard is a quick moving animal. It is also very alert and its movements are jerky and abrupt. In the same manner, the goldfinch enters in the thickness of the branches of the tree and feeds her young ones.


“The Laburnum Top is silent, quite still
in the afternoon yellow September sunlight,
A few leaves yellowing, all its seeds fallen.

Question. How does the laburnum ensure security for the nestlings?
Answer: Apart from the popular belief that the laburnum seeds and even its bark and leaves are poisonous, the laburnum top, rather than its bottom, is a safe area for the nestlings. With the yellow flowers and the yellowing leaves and a yellow breed of goldfinches, the babies are safer than elsewhere.

Question. Why is the laburnum top silent?
Answer: The top of the laburnum tree is silent because the goldfinch nestling(s) in the nest is/are anxiously awaiting its/their mother’s return with food.

Question. What is the significance of ‘yellow’ in the poem?
Answer: As the poem highlights the high security that the mother bird ensures for her babies, yellow has great implications in the poem. Both the laburnum tree and the goldfinch’s feathers yellow in color, the babies escape being noticed by any predator with the camouflaging effect.

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-

Question. What happens to the laburnum when the goldfinch mother returns?
Answer: On the mother’s return, a sudden movement stirs the tree. Her little ones are excited over her arrival and they start chirruping.

Question. What is the machine that starts up with the mother’s entry?
Answer: The machine in the poem is the combined effect of the love for mother and for food born by the nestlings in the nest along with the excited chirrups that they create to welcome their mother and their food.

Question. Why is the goldfinch stealing into her nest?
Answer: The cautious mother goldfinch enters the tree with great care that no predator would spot her babies securely housed in the nest.

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.

Question. Why does the bird flirt out to a branch end showing her barred face identity mask?
Answer: The mother bird is over cautious about safety but at the same time it is eager to reveal her identity to her babies. A barred mark behind the neck is her mark of recognition. By showing them this identity mark, the mother bird is calling their attention to her, reminding them that she is their mother.

Question. What is the engine of the machine? What is its fuel?
Answer: The nest is the engine of the goldfinch family. With the little ones inside, chirruping and eating and playing with each other, the mother bird gets her life of it. As fuel to an engine, the goldfinch family’s fuel is not just the food that the mother brings, it is the mother’s love as well.

The Laburnum Top Class 11 English Notes

Related Posts

error: Content is protected !!