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A Frog Screams
The poem is a narrative poem. The poet narrates an incident. It is about the release of a frog from a serpent. He describes how he rescued the frog. In the latter part of this poem, he cites his own reaction and the reaction of God to his remark.
When a poet was standing near a mountain stream, he heard a strange sound like a sound of creaking of a branch in the wind. A frog was screaming. It was in the jaws of a green snake. He took two sharp sticks and made the snake take the frog out of its jaws. The frog moved away on a floating log. He was happy. Then he released the snake. He wondered whether he felt like God. God said that the poet felt like the English and that he (God) would have let the snake finish his lunch.
Detailed Summary / Analysis
The poet was standing near a stream in a mountain. At that time, he heard a sound which was like the sound of creaking of a branch in the wind. The poet happened to see a frog in the jaws of a long green snake. The poet could not tolerate that cry. He took two sharp sticks and with these sticks, he rescued the frog. The frog that was full of life and spirit hopped out of the snake’s mouth and sailed away on a log that was floating on the surface of water.
After that, the poet released the green grass-snake. The poet was happy with the result. He cried, “Is this what it feels like to be God?”. It is clear that the poet had a sense of satisfaction. It is suggested that he felt like God who gives life to others. The poet saved the life of a frog. That way, he did the work of God.
As a response to the poet’s exclamation, God said, “Only what it’s like to be English”. God wanted to suggest that the English people might feel like that. It is an ironical statement. The British who ruled over the major part of the world talked and behaved like God. So, it is a sarcastic comment on the arrogance of the British. God further says, “I would have let the snake finish his lunch.” It is suggested that God has a broader vision. He cannot just think of a frog; he has to think of the serpent also. A frog is a serpent’s food and God cannot take it away from him. So, God is God. The poet has limited vision and he cannot think like God.
It is a short poem in which the focus is on the happening and a reaction to it.
Following is a sequence of this happening.
First stanza: The poet happens to see a frog in the jaws of a snake.
Second stanza: The poet releases the frog.
Third stanza: The poet gives an outlet to his joyous feelings.
Fourth stanza: God makes an ironic comment.
In the poem, the poet just describes what happened. He just quotes what he said and what God said. He does not explain the comments. So, it is left to the readers to muse over the comments. The readers are expected to read between the lines and guess what the poet and God intend to say.
The poet has made use of appropriate words such as creaking (sound), screaming (frog), twisting (snake), hideous (cry), floating (log). The use of these words produce an audio-visual effect. Creaking is a word which conveys the sound of a crying frog. ‘Green’ is an epithet, applied to a snake, suggesting that the snake is poisonous, hence dangerous.
Just in the first stanza, the poet has made use of a simile in the following line :
I heard a sound like the creaking
of a branch in the wind.
The poet compares a cry of a frog to the sound of the creaking of a branch in the wind. It is suggested that it was a pitiable cry of a frog that was being eaten by a snake.
Questions and Answers
Complete the following sentences in choosing the correct alternative :
1. The poet was standing near ———–
a) a stream b) a river, c) a mountain stream, d) a dam
2. The frog was screaming in the jaws of ___________
a) a wolf b) a dog c) a cat d) a snake.
3. The frog sailed away on ___________
a) a floating log b) a floating leaf
c) a floating piece of paper d) a floating carcass.
4. The poet ___________ the grass-snake.
a) released b) injured c) killed d) attacked
5. The poet’s feelings were like those of __________
a) a saint b) God c) a human being d) a demon
6. God spoke in __________ language.
a) English b) Italian c) French, d) Spanish
1) a mountain stream, 2) a snake 3) a floating log 4) released 5) God
Answer the following questions in 4-5 sentences
1. What did the poet hear and see?
Ans. The poet was standing near a mountain stream. At that time, he heard a sound like the sound of creaking of a branch in the wind. A frog was screaming. He saw the frog in the jaws of a snake.
2. How did the poet rescue the frog?
Ans. The poet happened to see a frog in the jaws of a snake. It was screaming. The poet could not tolerate the cry. He took two sharp sticks and with
these, he made the snake remit the frog. In this way, the poet rescued the frog.
3. Explain the irony in God’s statement.
Ans. God’s statement was that the poet felt like an Englishman. He further said that he would have let the snake finish his lunch. God’s statement is
ironical. He ironically suggests that the poet is not God. It is also suggested that God thinks of all living objects, and not of a particular living object.
Write short notes :
1. The release of the frog and the poet’s attitude.
2. God’s reaction to the poet’s statement.
1. The release of the frog and the poet’s attitude :
The poet heard a frog’s cry. He saw the frog that was in the jaws of a snake. He could not bear the cry. He took two sharp sticks and forced the snake to let out the frog. He rescued the frog. He was very happy as he had saved the life of a frog. After rescuing the frog, he also released the snake. He had a great feeling. He exclaimed, “Is this what it feels like to be God”. He compared himself with God. He felt that he felt like God. He was, no doubt proud of himself.
2. God’s reaction to the poet’s statement
The poet expressed happiness over his act of saving a frog. He was proud of himself. He had a feeling of God. God’s reaction to his comment was not supportive to him. He said, “Only what it’s like to be English”. God ironically suggests that these are the feelings of an Englishman and not of God. Here, God sarcastically comments on the English tendency of dominating over others and boasting about it. God adds that he would have let the snake eat the frog. He suggests that God has to think of all living objects and their food. It is important to note that God speaks in French and not in English, perhaps because he looks for an alternative – a better one.