Risks by Janet Rand

Janet Rand’s poem Risks is a motivational and inspirational piece. Each action undertaken by humans involves an element of risk: hope may turn to despair, and life may end in death. Risk is an inherent component of existence. We might remark that life is fraught with dangers and that overcoming fear requires courage. Success is contingent upon one’s willingness to take calculated risks.

The poet sends a message to all humans that they must take risks if they wish to accomplish anything. Without taking risks, there is a possibility of avoiding grief and terrible events in life; but, we will miss out on so much. We would not learn anything if we did not take chances.

Human life is fraught with risks. There is a risk associated with what we say and do. When we walk, we run the risk of falling. If we speak, we run the risk of offending someone. Thus, risk is an inherent component of our lives. For a time, risk-averse individuals may feel secure and comfortable. However, they are powerless to act or achieve anything out of dread of negative consequences. We require guts to conquer this fear. Without a risk to take risks, our abilities become ineffective. They are extinct. Without the development of his talents, man resembles an animal. A risk-taker is bold and possesses unmatched courage.

Stanza Wise Explanation

Stanza 1

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.


Reference – These lines are taken from Janet Rand’s poem ‘Risks.’

Context − The poet believes that there is risk in everything we do. Here he presents different examples of it.

Explanation−According to the poet, man is unaware that all of his actions are fraught with risks. People may call him a fool if he laughs. People may label him as emotional if he sobs. People may question his good intentions if he assists others. People will learn about our inner selves if we convey our thoughts and feelings. As a result, there is risk in what we do or say.

Stanza 2

To place ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk being called naive.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying,

Reference : These lines have been taken from the poem ‘Risks’ authored by Janet Rand.

Context: The poet illustrates in these motivating lines that we cannot accomplish anything without taking a risk. If we want to accomplish something, we must be willing to take a risk.

Explanation − In these lines the poet says that everything we do or say has a risk. If we share our thoughts and plans for our lives with others, they may label us as fools. They may argue that we lack life experience. If we love someone, we may not receive the same affection in return. Our lives are fraught with peril. Each step carries the risk of death.

Stanza 3

To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard
in life is to risk nothing.

Reference  − These lines have been taken from the poem ‘Risks’ written by Janet Rand.

Context − In these motivating lines, the poet shares his beliefs that though there is risk in every area of life, we must take risk.

Explanation − Every hope, according to the poet, does not come true. Many of our hopes in life are dashed. We try and try to achieve success in life, yet we also fail. We win and lose in life, and we succeed and fail. Even so, we take chances. Life would come to a halt if we did not take risks.

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Stanza 4.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they
cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Reference − These lines have been taken from the poem ‘Risks’ written by Janet Rand.

Context − These lines convey the truth that there is no achievement without taking risks.

Explanation − According to the poet, a man who does not take chances cannot achieve anything. Such a man will never be able to do anything in his life. In life, he will never be able to become anything. If somebody wants to do something, have something, or become anything, he must take chances.

The poet states that those who do not take risks can avoid life’s sufferings and tragedies. However, they are unable to learn anything. They are unable to experience any new sensations. They can not change themselves or the world. They are incapable of progressing in life. They are incapable of loving others. They can not even live their lives well. All of these things necessitate taking chances.

Stanza 5

Chained by their certitude, they are slaves; they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.

Reference − These lines form the last stanza of the poem ‘Risks’ authored by Janet Rand.

Context − People who avoid risk become dumb-driven animals. They live the life of a slave.

Explanation − People who do not take chances get enslaved by a sense of total certainty. They are enslaved by their own thinking. They lose their independence of thought and action because they are afraid to try new things. Finally, the poet claims that the individual who takes chances is truly free of all hazards. The poet inspires us to take risks and tackle challenging situations in life in the final phrase.

Questions and Answers

(A) Tick the correct alternative :

1. What does the line ‘To hope is to risk despair’ express ?
  (a) fear about failure
(b) fear about discouragement
(c) fear about some losses
(d) fear of being hopeless

2. Who composed the poem “Risks” ?
(a) Oliver Goldsmith
(b) Charles Mackay
(c) Janet Rand
(d) Alfred Tennyson

Ans. 1. (d), 2. (c).

(B) Answer the following questions not exceeding 30-40 words each :

1. What is success ?
Ans. Success is defined as obtaining what we seek. We must have the bravery to take risks if we are to attain success in our lives. People that take risks use all of their macho abilities to succeed.

2. Who is truly free ?
Ans. The person who is willing to take chances is truly free. The risk-averse individual becomes enslaved to his beliefs of safety. As a result, risk-takers are free to think and act in their own way.

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3. What is the greatest hazard in life ?
Ans. The greatest danger in life is putting nothing at risk. A person cannot achieve anything unless he is willing to take chances. Such a man will never be able to obtain anything in his life. He can not become anything until he takes risks.

4. When is a man filled with despair ?
Ans. When a man’s hope is not realised, he is filled with despair. To hope is to put oneself at risk of despair. When a man does not receive the intended outcome from his work, he feels depressed.

5. How can freedom be enjoyed ?
Ans. Life is full of obstacles (risks). Freedom can be obtained through taking risks or accepting these challenges. We should not be terrified of trials and tribulations. We must have the courage to express ourselves and behave freely.

(C) Answer the following questions not exceeding 60 words each :

1. Why should we take risk ?
Ans. All of our efforts will be futile unless we take risks. As a result, we must be prepared to take risks and face obstacles at every step of the way. One who does not take risks does not advance. He makes no advancement in his life.

2. What is  immediate advantage of avoiding risks ?
Ans. Life is full of risks. Every human action has some level of risk. People who avoid taking risks, on the other hand, enjoy an immediate benefit. The benefit is that they can gladly escape sufferings and sorrows for a while. But, in the end, they are losers because they are incapable of learning anything. They are unable to accomplish anything. They are unable to love others. They are unable to even live their lives freely.

3. “Chained by their certitude”. Explain this phrase.
Ans. People who are bound by their own sentiments of certainty and safety are referred to by this expression. They are terrified of taking any kind of risk in their lives. They are captives to their emotions. They have no concept of liberty. They are shackled to their easygoing existence. They are afraid to try anything new.

4. Write the main theme of the poem.
Ans. The poem’s main theme is that risk is an inevitable part of life. Even smiling, weeping, helping others, expressing our feelings, sharing our thoughts and ideas, loving others, living, hoping, doing something, and everything carry some risk. As a result, taking risks in life is essential. A person who avoids dangers may be spared from hardship and misery. A life without risks, on the other hand, is the biggest hazard in and of itself.

5. What is the importance of opposite images in the poem ?
Ans. In the poem, the poet uses numerous opposing images, such as laugh….fool, weep….sentimental, expose feelings….true-self, live….dying, hope….despair, try….failure, and so on. The significance of these opposing images is that they convey the potential hazards or outcomes of the relevant activity. These images depict the practical aspects of life as well as the genuine character of humans.

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Answer the following questions not exceeding 30–40 words each :

Q. 1. What is the fate of the man who risks nothing ?
Ans. A man who takes no risks can achieve nothing in life. He can not have anything. He has the potential to become nothing. He becomes unimportant in society. He eventually loses his independence in life.

Q. 2. What benefits does the man get who takes risks in life ?     Or
What is the advantage of taking risks in life ?
Ans. The man who takes risks learns new things, obtains new experiences, changes his position, grows into an influential person, and lives happily ever after. In a real sense, he is free.

Q. 3. What is the immediate advantage of avoiding risks ?
Ans. The immediate benefit of avoiding risks is that it saves a person from suffering and difficulties for a short period of time. He is not afraid of being hopeless or failed, or of being labelled a fool, emotional, or inexperienced, among other things.

Q. 4. What is the long-term disadvantage of risking nothing ?
Ans. The man who takes no risks will suffer many disadvantages in the long term. He lacks the ability to learn and feel. He is unable to grow and develop his personality. He is incapable of loving or living happily.

Q. 5. How are people restrained by their certitude ?
Ans. People avoid taking chances because they are afraid of failing. This fear of failure keeps individuals from taking risks. They do nothing and remain content. As a result, they are restrained by their certainty and become its slave.

Q. 6. Six verbs have been piled up in the line ‘cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.’ What does the poet emphasise using this device ?
Ans. The poet communicated the intensity of his sentiments on the huge loss one experiences by not taking risks in life by stacking six verbs in the line: ‘cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.’

Q. 7. The same pattern, ‘To laugh is….’, To weep is ….. ’, has been repeated nine times in the poem. What effect does this repetition create in the poem ?
Ans. This type of repetition has been employed to indicate strong feelings or firm beliefs. In this approach, the poet hopes to persuade the reader that no activity in the world is without risk, and where there is no risk, there is no benefit.

Q. 8. Why has the poet repeated the word ‘risk(s)’ fourteen times (including the title) and ‘nothing’ six times in the poem ?
Ans. The core theme of the poem is represented by the phrases ‘risk(s)’ and ‘nothing.’ The entire poem revolves around the idea that nothing is risk-free and that no gain is possible until risks are taken. That is why the poet has used these words several times.

Q. 9. What are the risks in simple activities of man ?
Ans. Man’s ordinary activities are fraught with risk. There is a risk of being labelled as a fool for laughing, an emotional for sobbing, a volunteer for assisting, and an inexperienced for revealing feelings and thoughts.

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