The Mountain and the Squirrel

Outline of The Poem

“The Mountain and the Squirrel” is a poem in which the Squirrel and the Mountain fight each other to assert their superiority. Both the mountain and the squirrel boast about their superiority and, finally, accept each other’s significant role in God’s creation. The poem tells readers that every creature in this world has an important place in God’s creation.Though the squirrel is not as big as a mountain, it is energetic and can run around freely. The mountain has its own natural location. It holds up forests with trees that feed on a tiny squirrel.

The mountain and the squirrel


One day, there was a quarrel between the mountain and the squirrel. The gigantic mountain calls the tiny squirrel a little prig. The squirrel, whose name is Bun, says that while it is not as big as the mountain, the mountain is not as energetic as the squirrel. In order to make up a year and a sphere, all kinds of things and weather must be taken into account. The talents of both the mountain and the squirrel are very different. If the squirrel cannot carry the forest on its back, the mountain cannot crack a tiny nut.

Questions and Answers

a) Answer the following questions in 100 words each.

1. Which are the two voices (persona) that the poet uses to build up a dialogue?

Ans. The Mountain and the Squirrel

2. In the mountain justified/ right in calling the squirrel a ‘Little Prig’? Why? Why not?
Ans. The mountain is called the squirrel a little prig because the mountain wanted to tease the squirrel, the mountain is too big compared to the squirrel, but the squirrel had no inferiority complex for that. The mountain is not justified because, although the squirrel is small, it is still energetic and lively.

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3. What are the different arguments that the squirrel uses to counter the remark of the mountain?
Ans . The squirrel defends itself against the big mountain by saying that although it is small, it is more lively and energetic. If it cannot carry forests on its back, neither the mountain can crack a nut. They both have different talents.

Reference To context


The Mountain and the Squirrel had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter “Little Prig”;

Q. 1 Name the poem and the poet.
Ans. The poem is “The Mountain and the Squirrel” and the poet is Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Q. 2 Who had a quarrel and why?
Ans.The Mountain and the Squirrel had a quarrel to decide who was superior to the other.

Q.3 In the above lines, who is ‘former’ and who is ‘latter’?
Ans. ‘Former’ refers to the Mountain and the ‘latter’ refers to the Squirrel.

2 .

And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I am not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,

Q. 1. Who is the speaker of the above lines?
Ans. The Squirrel is the speaker.

Q. 2 . What message is the speaker trying to convey in these lines?
Ans. The Squirrel wants to say that being small or large has its own advantages and that there is nothing shameful in being small.

Q. 3 What is the meaning of “spry”? Why can’t the Mountain be spry?
Ans. “Spry” means agile or active. The mountain can not be spry because it is fixed at one place.

Answer these questions

Q. 1 What can the Squirrel do that the Mountain can not?
Ans .The Squirrel can crack a nut but the mountain can not.

Q. 2 Who do you think is cleverer? Why?
Ans . The Squirrel is cleverer because it knows that although it is smaller in size, but still it is not inferior to the mountain.

Q. 3 What is the message of the poem?
The message of the poem is that nobody in this world is inferior or superior. Everyone is different and has his own importance and place in this world.

2. Answer these questions.

a) How many times does the mountain speak in the poem?
Ans. The mountain spoke only once in the poem.

b) What two things does the squirrel acknowledge the mountain can do?

Ans. The two things does the squirrel acknowledge are:

  1. It can carry forest on its back.
  2. It makes a very pretty squirrel track.

c) How does the squirrel defend itself against the big mountain?
Ans. The squirrel defends itself against the great mountain by saying that although it is small, it is more lively and energetic. If the forest cannot be carried on its back, neither can the mountain crack a nut. They’ve both got different talents.

3. Choose the correct options.

a) ‘And I think it no disgrace / To occupy my place.’ These lines tell us that

i. wisdom always gets the better of strength.

ii. everything in this world has its own value.

iii. there is nothing that cannot be achieved without hard work.

iv. there is no shame in admitting that we are inferior to someone.

b) ‘All is well and wisely put.’ Which one of the four statements best explains this line?

i. God, in his unlimited wisdom, has made everything as it is for a reason.
ii. Nothing in this world can compete with God, who has made everything.

iii. All will be well between the mountain and the squirrel if they appreciate each other’s importance.

iv. Too much importance must not be given to our abilities as there is always someone better than we are.

c) The squirrel makes its case by trying not to offend the mountain. Which of these lines from the poem is an example of this tactful nature of the squirrel?

i. ‘And I think it no disgrace / To occupy my place.’
ii. ‘You are not so small as I / And not half so spry.’
iii. ‘I’ll not deny you make / A very pretty squirrel track;’
iv. ‘But all sorts of things and weather / Must be taken in together,’


1. A fable is a short imaginary tale that teaches a moral or a lesson usually by means of animal characters. The story can be in prose or in verse. Would you call this poem a fable? Give reasons for your answer.

Ans. I would call it a fable, because this poem teaches us that each person has his or her own individual talents, and that everyone/everything has its purpose, that no one in this world is superior or inferior. The squirrel in the poem showed his talent, saying that God had placed all creatures in their proper place, and they all had different talents. Consequently, on the basis of their size, we should not underestimate any creature.

2. In what ways do you think a small creature like a squirrel is important to a forest? How is a forest helpful to a squirrel?

Ans. Squirrels help the forest to renewal, helping to disperse the seeds. Squirrels gather nuts and store them in their burrows. Some of the seed left behind grows into a new plant. Similarly, the forest helps the squirrel by providing food, shelter, and a nice squirrel track.

C. Read to appreciate

1. Look at the last words of each line in the poem. Do you find any words that rhyme? Which are these?

And. The rhyme scheme is AABCBDDEEFFGHHIJKJK.

2. You will notice that this poem does not follow any regular arrangement of rhyming words at the end of the lines.

In other words, the poem lacks a definite H R E M Y C S M E H E. (Solve the anagram to find the answer.)

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