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“Musee des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden : Questions and Summary

“Musee des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden


martyrdom – suffering of death for one’s beliefs

forsaken – renounced

Note: To fully appreciate the poem, students should be shown a reproduction of “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” by artist Pieter Brueghel. The poem is essential to interpreting the poem’s second stanza.

1. What is the poem suggesting about the nature of cruelty?

The poem suggests that cruelty is a natural part of all our lives, and that suffering affects everyone.

2. Who in the poem cares about human suffering?

The speaker of the poem infers that the ones who care about human suffering are the children. The suggestion is that children are too young to have experienced suffering themselves, and so the witness of it affects them more.

3. What is the theme of the poem? Choose one image from the poem and explain how it reinforces this message.

The theme of the poem is about the universality of human suffering. The poem’s images suggest how suffering is constantly taking place, though not to everyone at the same time.

Students’ responses to the second part of the question will vary, but should reinforce the above mentioned theme.

4. Why do you think the poet chose Peter Bruegel’s “Icarus” to illustrate his theme of the world’s indifference to human suffering ?

Answers may vary. Example: The village folk in the poem would have been aware of Icarus’ failure, but they continue to move on with their work. The images suggest that suffering does not move people to act any differently than they normally do because it is experienced by all.

5. Some critics have argued that this poem hints at Auden’s decision to turn back toChristianity. What signs do you find in this poem that signal this may be true?

In line seven, Auden mentions the “miraculous birth,” probably a reference to Christ’s birth. The theme of tragedy is also reminiscent of Christ and his tragic end.

Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas : Questions and Summary

“Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

1. What is the tone of the poem?

The poem’s tone is one of anger and persuasion. The speaker is urging readers to not succumb to death.

2. What is the “dying of the light”?

The dying of the night is a metaphor for death.

3. As the note above the poem suggests, it is an example of a villanelle. A villanelle is a poem consisting of 19 lines, but only two rhymes. It also repeats two lines throughout the poem. Why do you think Thomas has chosen to write his poem following the traditional form of a villanelle?

Answers may vary. Example: Thomas writes a villanelle to show the constrictions placed on men by death. By writing his poem about rebellion in a constricting form, its theme is reinforced.

4. According to the first stanza, what does the speaker seem to be asking? Put your response in your own words.

Answers may vary. Example: The speaker is saying that you should fight against dying and that old age should not be a reason to give in to death.

5. What kind of men should rage against the dying of the light? What four types of men does Thomas address?

Thomas addresses “wise men,” “good men,” “Wild men,” and “grave men.”

6. Consider the punctuation used in the first two lines of the poem’s last stanza. What do the caesurae (commas) suggest about the speaker’s feelings toward his father?

The commas separate the speaker’s ideas and add a feeling of spontaneity to the words. The second line, “Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray” does not suggest that the speaker wants to be cursed and blessed by his father, but rather that he has cursed, blessed, and prayed for his father. The speaker, the son, is forced to live with the pain of the dead father: “me now with your fierce tears.”

Ode on a Grecian Urn Summary, Themes and Question Answers

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats

Introduction: Ode on a Grecian Urn is undoubtedly the most renowned ode in the history of English literature. This is a perfectly written, an irregular ode

so though the rhyme been has used throughout, but not in a strict way as in other is done in other forms of ode. John Keats has tried to praise the features of classical Greek art through his ode. Consequently, there cannot be another poetic form is as appropriate as this ode which is a true illustration of classical Greek art itself.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Ode on a Grecian Urn

Summary of Ode on a Grecian Urn

John Keats is one of the greatest poets. His poems are monuments of meticulous craftsmanship and supreme aestheticism. A victim of frustrated love, he is concerned with themes of love in much of his poetry. So he’s known as the love poet. Some of his poems demonstrate his capacity to create an imaginary world out of the common experience. Ode On a Grecian Urn is a good example of this.

In this Keat’s was influenced by the experience of the Greek sculpture. He was a fantastic Greek art admirer. The poem is a philosophical reflection on the connection between art and life, immortality and human death, and the Platonic concept of Truth and Beauty. To the poet, art is the product of intellect, which is inspired by nature. It produces an ideal world far above than common world of life where people are suffering from illness, sadness, pain, starvation, poverty, and death.

The sight of the sculptured images on the Grecian Urn inspires a sense of wonder in the poet. He calls the Urn as a bride wedded to quietness and remaining a virgin. She is the foster child of Time and Silence. Time, the great destroyer has preserved its beauty. It is a timeless thing. Since it represents life, it is a product of time. At the same time, it is immortal. The Urn is a ‘silver historian’ because it gives us a history of the pastoral life of the ancient world. The beautiful woodland scene engraved on it tells us a story far more sweetly than any poem. The poet wonder if the figures are humans or gods. It could be both. He sees the maidens being pursued by their lovers and musicians playing pipes and timbrels. Their ecstasy becomes his.

The poet is inspired and feels a sense of wonder by the sight of marvelous images sculptured on the Urn. He addresses the Urn as a bride wedded to quietness and remaining a virgin. She’s a foster kid of Time and Silence Time the great destroyer has maintained its beauty. It’s something timeless. It is a product of time because it constitutes life. It’s immortal at the same time. The Urn is a ‘silver historian’ as it provides us a history of the ancient world’s pastoral life. The lovely woodland scene engraved on it informs us a tale much sweeter than any poem. The poet wonders if people or gods are the figures. It might be both. He sees the maidens being pursued by their lovers and musicians playing pipes and timbrels. Their ecstasy becomes his.

Keats takes up the themes engraved on Urn one by ine. Firstly, he sees a musician playing his pipe under a tree. The poet is unable to hear the “unheard melodies.” So he imagines that “unheard melodies” are much sweeter than melodies that have been heard. The musical instruments on the Urn are not playing to the “sensual ear,” but they are playing to the soul in us. The tree is immortal as well. It is never going to shed its leaves. Therefore, nature and human beings in the Urn are glad and happy.

A courageous lover attempting to kiss his beloved is another scene. In fact, he never kisses her, but he doesn’t have to worry about it because his sweetheart will never grow old and his love for her will never die. They love one another forever, and they are young and lovely forever. The images like. tree, piper, and lover depict nature, art, and life. All these pictures in the marble urn inform us about the nature-life relationship. In Art, the imperfections of life are dissolved.

Then the poet defines an engraved scene of pagan sacrifice on the urn. A priest is seen leading a heifer to a decorated altar and a big crowd following the priest to attend the ritual. The small town by the sea or river is eternally emptied because the people have gone to attend the sacrifice. These roads are forever going to stay silent. In contrast to the previous scenes, this scene is solemn and severe, which are happier than others. Keats utilizes this image to suggest the concept that even when dealing with tragic and solemn stuff, art provides pleasure.

Addressing the Grecian Urn once again, the poet recognizes the importance of his message to mankind. The images engraved on Grecian Urn quietly laugh at mankind because we are mortals and suffer from disease, pain, and sadness. Our life is even shorter than the lightening life itself. The Grecian urn images are immortal, telling us that “Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth. Beauty and truth are the same. Keats pays glorious homage to art’s immortality in this poem. Beauty is about to die, but Arts make it immortal.

Art is fantastic because it is not affected by the sorrow and wretchedness of the world of reality. Keats demonstrates us in this poem that art can capture and immortalize from real-life one fleeting moment of beauty. Human life and happiness are short, but art enshrines them with a perfect beauty that bestows them eternity Any beauty that is not truthful and any reality that is not lovely is irrelevant to mankind.

Word Meanings

citadel – fortress
dales – vales
timbrels – small hand drums
pious – devout
brede –embroidery

Questions and Answers

1. The poem opens with a series of comparisons between the urn and random types of people. The comparison between the non-living urn and the very much alive people is known as what?
Ans. The comparisons come in the form of metaphors, but the attribution of living qualities to the urn is known as personification.

2. What is the first picture that the speaker sees on the urn?

Ans. The speaker sees a picture of men chasing women and asks what the reason could be.

3. Why are the melodies played by the piper in the urn’s second picture superior to those played by actual, living pipers?

Ans. The melodies played in the picture, though silent, are unaffected by time and are unconstrained in meaning.

4. Why, according to the speaker, will the town of the fourth stanza be silent “evermore”?

Ans. The town will be silent because its citizens, as depicted in the picture on the urn, have fled it and are frozen in time in the picture.

5. How does the speaker engage, interact, or react to each picture on the urn? Do his responses change? Why?

Ans. The speaker tries to ask questions of the urn with the first picture, but seeing how the urn cannot answer him, he abandons the line of questioning. With the second picture, the speaker tries to imagine what the experience of the characters on the urn must be like, trying hard to identify with them. His attempts, though, remind him of his own life and how he is tied to his experiences, so he abandons this line of interaction. Finally, with the third picture, the speaker tries to think about the characters as though they are experiencing time. His theory gives the picture an origin and destination; but then, unable to know if the journey is completed, he becomes captivated by the static nature of the urn. His responses show a progression in his identification with art.

6. Who speaks the poem’s final line, “that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”?

Answers may vary. This question has been debated by critics since the poem’s first publication. If the speaker is the speaker of the poem, the line signifies that he understands the limits of art. If the speaker is the urn, then perhaps art shows that there is no limitation to life. The speaker may also be directly addressing the urn itself or the reader.

7. What is the meaning of “unravished bride”?
Ans. “Unravished bride” implies a bride not spoiled by man’s hand. Her chastity is still maintained. The sentence not only stresses the untouched beauty of the urn but also takes us to the point that the urn is spiritually lovely. No one can comprehend the secret of its marvelous beauty.

Best Attitude Status And Attitude Quotes In English For Success 1

Best Attitude Status And Attitude Quotes In English For Success

Best Attitude Status And Attitude Quotes

It’s often questioned if a person’s attitude is predisposed or if it can be developed. Without question, attitudes are developed. Your attitude is a strong instrument for meaningful action. It’s inherently interwoven with everything you do. It’s your most precious possession. William James, the excellent psychologist cum philosopher, said,
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that people can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”
One of the biggest understanding of our time, I can say, is that everyone has the ability to enhance the quality of their personal and professional life; however, they must first be prepared to obtain the abilities that will guide them to a place of self-discovery where they can tap into the strength of their positive attitude. You may not be able to alter your height or sort of body, but you may be able to modify your attitude. Each of us has the authority to create and sustain a positive attitude that works for us, enhancing the quality of our lives and enabling us to achieve our goals in life. Your attitude should be an indication of where you want to go in life and not a reflection of what you have been through. Change your attitude and you can alter your life!
Regardless of how old you are, your present position or station in life, gender, or marital status, a positive attitude can create an incredible difference in your life and other people’s lives. You will find out in the post that follows what attitude is, the strength of attitude, and how you reflect your attitude. You will learn to recognize that you can regulate your destiny by learning the stuff you need to do to remain positive even in the most challenging times. After reading this post, it will be easy for you to turn attitude into action and focus on the fundamental principles of self-development and personal growth.

Attitude Status in English

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”
-John C. Maxwell

Attitude Status in English

“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure.”


A = 1

T = 20

I = 9

D = 4

E = 5

T = 20

T = 20

U = 21

No matter what you do in life, if you have a positive attitude, you’ll always be 100 percent. According to our alphabet system, if you assign a numerical value to each letter (1–26), attitude will equal 100 percent.

What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.
— Alexander Graham Bell

A Definition Of Attitude

Think of your attitude as the mental filter through which you experience the world. Some people see the world through the filter of optimism (the glass being half full) while others see life through a filter of pessimism (the glass being half empty). Let me give you some examples to explain the difference between a positive attitude and a negative attitude.

Think of your attitude as the mental filter you experience the world through. Some individuals see the world through the optimism filter (the glass is half complete) while others see life through a pessimism filter (the glass is half empty). Let me give you examples of the distinction between a positive attitude and a negative attitude.

  • The person with the negative attitude believes that “I CAN’T.”
  • The person with the positive attitude thinks that “I CAN.”
  • The person with the negative attitude dwells on problems.
  • The person with the positive attitude concentrates on solutions.
  • The person with the negative attitude finds fault with others.
  • The person with the positive attitude looks for the good in others.
  • The person with the negative attitude focuses on what’s missing.
  • The person with the positive attitude counts his or her blessings.
  • The person with the negative attitude sees limitations.
  • The person with the positive attitude sees possibilities.
  • I could go on and on with examples, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Attitude Status

Attitude Image

Your attitude is your window to the world.

A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.

— Hugh Downs

The key to having a good attitude is the willingness to change.

Attitude . . .

  • It is the “advance man” of our true selves.
  • Its roots are inward but its fruit is outward.
  • It is our best friend or our worst enemy.
  • It is more honest and more consistent than our words.
  • It is an outward look based on past experiences.
  • It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them.
  • It is never content until it is expressed.
  • It is the librarian of our past.
  • It is the speaker of our present.
  • It is the prophet of our future.

Attitude is really about how a person is that overflows into how he acts.

When confronted with a difficult situation, a person with an outstanding attitude makes the best of it while he gets the worst of it.

Identify through self-awareness the attitudes that hold you back or propel you forward.

There are two great moments in a person’s life. The first is when you are born. The second is when you discover why you were born.


Best Attitude Status And Attitude Quotes In English For Success 2

Why settle for so little in life when you can have so much, just by daring to be different in your thinking.
— C A T H E R I N E P O N D E R

You have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.


What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Only the limits of our mind-set can determine the boundaries of our future.


Remember that your real wealth is measured not by what you have, not by where you are, but by the spirit that lives within you.


“If you know what you want, you are more apt to recognize it when you see it. When you read a book, for example, you will recognize opportunities to help you get what you want.”


Don’t forget, the best coach with the strongest power over your performance is the coach that lives within you.


The people you allow to embrace your life ultimately have the greatest impact on your attitude.


You are successful when you remember that somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a gift. That gift is what started you in the right direction. Remember that you are blessed when you pass that gift on to help someone else.


Fear cannot scare a person who is at peace with God. There is no room, opportunity, or place for fear in such a person. Remember, you must have faith.


The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

—William James


You are not what you think you are.
But what you think YOU ARE!


Never underestimate your power to change yourself.

—H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


Think, act and talk with enthusiasm and you ‘ll attract positive results.

—Michael LeBoeuf


Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.

— Dr. Joyce Brothers


Your Attitude Is Your Window to the World.


Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.

— George Bernard Shaw


Attitudes are a secret power working 24 hours a day, for good or bad.

— Unknown


Nurture your mind with great thoughts.

— Benjamin Disraeli


You must first clearly see a thing in your mind before you can do it.

— Alex Morrison


Imagination is more important than knowledge.

— Albert Einstein


Vision is the art of seeing things invisible to others.

— Jonathan Swift


Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.

— Napoleon Hill


The things which hurt, instruct.

— Benjamin Frankli


Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you.

— Tom Hopkins


Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turn.

— Unknown


A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.


Nothing happens by itself. It all will come your way once you understand that you have to make it come your way, by your own exertions.

— Ben Stein


A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.

—The Living Bible, Proverbs 27


Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson


Failure is only the opportunity to more intelligently begin again.

— Henry Ford


You can get everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.

—Zig Ziglar


To change your circumstances, first, start thinking differently.

—Norman Vincent Peale N


A positive attitude is a person’s passport to a better tomorrow.



Major premise: We can control our thoughts.

Minor premise: Our feelings come from our thoughts.

Conclusion: We can control our feelings by learning to change how we think.

The following steps will assist you in changing bad habits into good ones:

Step #1: List your bad habits.

Step #2: What was the original cause?

Step #3: What are the supporting causes?

Step #4: Determine a positive habit to replace the bad one.

Step #5: Think about the good habit, its benefits, and results.

Step #6: Take action to develop this habit.

Step #7: Daily act upon this habit for reinforcement.

Step #8: Reward yourself by noting one of the benefits from your good habit.




Every successful person is someone who failed, yet never regarded himself as a failure.

Success is . . .

Knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others.


Leaders have to give up to go up.


Attitude Tune-Up

• Count your blessings daily, and give thanks.

• Get proper rest and exercise, and start eating healthier.

• Do not let petty office or school politics have power over your personal or professional success. Monitor what you hear, what you read, and what you say.

• Set aside personal time with family and close friends.

• Help someone less fortunate. It brings out your true spirit.

• Feed your spirit daily; read and listen to motivational books and tapes.

• Discover the motives that motivate you, and remember, motivation is not permanent.

• Reflect on your victories—things you’ve forgotten that were special. Rekindle the fire that helps you turn your attitude into action.

• Watch Your Words. They are powerful. Practice WOW by speaking encouraging, life-affirming words to others.

• Create an upbeat, positive greeting that builds enthusiasm for you and everyone around you.

• Develop a clear vision, lock into your purpose and passion, and set goals with deadlines.

The key to success is working persistently toward specific objectives under your own power. When necessary, you prove that you can count on nobody but yourself. Success means progressing from what is acceptable to what is excellent. It seldom comes easy.

Excellence is usually the result of a long, tough apprenticeship. To increase the odds that hard work achieves your goals, these personal attributes are essential:

Self-esteem. Unless you regard yourself as a valuable individual, a worthy and capable human being, there’s little chance you’ll be able to change or control the conditions and opportunities presented.

Responsibility. You hold yourself strictly accountable for what happens in your life. You willingly assume full responsibility for the events that result in either success or failure.

Optimism. To be successful, you must understand clearly that there are situations beyond the scope of your capabilities—but not expect defeat. Those who are successful feel good about themselves, have confidence in the future and work productively in the present.

Steady Progress. Measure success step by step. Success-oriented individuals keep their goals before them constantly. Not only do goals measure progress, but they also serve to motivate and direct future behavior.

Imagination. Without imagination, you can’t visualize what it might be like to experience exciting new and beneficial ventures before they occur. Successful people use their imaginations constantly and creatively, testing ideas in the light of possibilities.

Awareness. You must always be aware of what is going on around you. People succeed because they are curious. Their eyes are always open to new opportunities.

Creativity. Loosen up. Think out of the box. Successful people make a habit of looking at problems, situations, and opportunities from different vantage points. They constantly ask, “Why is this so? What makes it different? When did it happen? Who will benefit most from change or a new direction?”

Attitude Quotes

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”


A positive attitude also ignites the drive to excel in yourself and those around you. You can stimulate this drive to grow and accomplish when you:

• Implement ideas, whether your own or ideas from others, by harnessing them in practical ways.

• Accept responsibility.

• Make critical decisions with minimal personal agony.

• Emphasize facts over opinions. You should always first gather the facts, and then interpret them when you are solving a problem or seizing an opportunity.

• Be a master of communication. Others will feel free to talk with you because they know that when they have something to say to you, you will be receptive.

• Confirm that others’ jobs and ideas are important.


Let’s look for a moment at how a positive attitude influences successful leaders.

• They have high frustration tolerance.

• They encourage participation by others.

• They continually question themselves.

• They are cleanly competitive.

• They control impulses to get even.

• They win without exulting.

• They lose without moping.

• They recognize legal, ethical, and moral restrictions.

• They are conscious of group loyalties.

• They have realistic goals.

There will be times when you must come to the realization that you, yourself, are the problem. When this happens, these tips will help:

1. Put your negative attitudes in focus. “If I keep this up, where will it lead?”

2. Laugh. There’s no question that laughter is good medicine.

3. Accept setbacks and failures as part of life, but keep in mind that a positive attitude may lessen the length and severity of problems.

4. Talk calmly to yourself when you are upset. This can greatly lower your stress level. Take time to unwind. Have lunch away from your work on a stressful day to recharge.

5. Talk positively to yourself when you feel down.

6. Examine your priorities and goals. Are they yours or the expectations of others?

7. Simplify everything you can.

8. Don’t let small problems get bigger.

9. Get more involved with family and friends. Keep close ties with people who enhance life’s good times and to buffer the bad. Try to put as much thought and energy into making your relationships work as you put into your job.

10. Brainstorm positive alternatives with others. What could have been said or done to indicate a more positive or constructive approach?


“Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities.”


Unfortunately, we overlook the relationship between attitude and effectiveness. Your effectiveness, especially if you are a supervisor or manager or in any kind of a leadership position, is judged in large part by how your attitude has influenced the results achieved. Here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

• What is the factual evidence that you really want people who report to you to succeed?

• What is the evidence that you allocate an adequate amount of time to plan with them? To think ahead? Provide needed resources?

• What is the evidence that you’ll be calm in a crisis or emergency when others are behaving irrationally? Losing your cool or having a temper tantrum will affect how they react to you.

• What is the evidence that you encourage calculated risk, but avoid shooting the messengers of bad news? If that’s the way you consistently behave, it’s going to be pretty tough to find people willing to be messengers.

• What is the evidence that you can disagree without being disagreeable?

• What is the evidence that you do not flaunt the symbols of status and power and privilege, which may yield fear, isolation, and suspicion?

• What is the evidence that you negotiate objectives to make them stretching, yet realistic and attainable? Can you negotiate rather than order? Can you coach rather than direct?

• What is the evidence that you are rarely surprised, and can quickly find out what you need to know? It’s not important that you know everything that you need to know exactly when it’s needed, but it’s absolutely essential that surprises be minimized and you know where to get pertinent information.

• What is the evidence that you can simplify rather than complicate issues? Are you usually understood?

How often do people come back to you and say,

“I didn’t understand that. What did you really mean?”

• What is the evidence that you will encourage dissenting points of view to arrive at a better decision? It is said that when Alfred Sloan, the legendary chairman of the General Motors board of directors, counted a unanimous vote on a subject he would say, “I’m uneasy with that conclusion. We will adjourn and reconvene in the morning. There must be more to this than we currently see.”

Best Attitude Status And Attitude Quotes In English For Success 3

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1. Attitude Is Everything

10 Life-Changing Steps

to Turning Attitude into Action




Roger Fritz

3. Attitude 101
Dr. Maxwell

A PHOTOGRAPH BY SHIRLEY TOULSON: Summary, Explanation, Analysis and Solved Questions 4

A PHOTOGRAPH BY SHIRLEY TOULSON: Summary, Explanation, Analysis and Solved Questions


Introduction: When you look at an old photograph it brings back memories of past events, experiences, joys, sorrows, etc. People become older with the passage of time, they might become unrecognisable due to wrinkles, posture or greying hair. You may laugh at the photograph nostalgically, remembering the past events. You may remember the smile on the loved person’s face and may laugh with a tinge of sadness that past cannot be re-lived. The memories may produce great sadness in you. You may have an acute sense of loss. But the reality is that time is a great healer. Although the sense of loss (on the death of one’s near and dear, ages ago) may never go away completely but with time one has to accept the eventuality, mortality and lack of permanence of human life. You have to come to terms with the loss of your dear departed ones, and you have to accept the inevitable. The past memories can leave you silent, dazed as the silence in the photograph. But nature will always be there and remain unaltered with the passage of time. Nature is immortal and eternal. The sea will be there where it is, the mountain will be there where it is. Nature symbolises permanence, immortality and eternity. Human life will be ephemeral in nature and temporary and nothing can erase this naked fact.

Summary of A Photograph

The poem, “A Photograph” is written in free verse. The title photograph is very much appropriate as it reminds the poet of her mother. A photograph is something that captures a certain snapshot of someone’s life. The person may change in course of time however the recollections connected with the photograph are endless. In this poem, the poet’s mother is no more but the photograph brings back her memories of her.
The mother’s sweet face or her cousins vigorously dressed up for the beach have all changed with time but the minutes captured in the photograph still offers satisfaction to the poet’s mother when she sees it thirty to forty years after later.
The poet looks at cardboard on which there is a photographic of three girls. The bigger and oldest one in the middle and two younger and shorter ones at each side of her. The girl in the middle is the mother of the poet, and the poet speculates that when the picture was taken, her mother must have been about twelve years old. The other two girls are two cousins from her mother.
All three of them stood still shoulder to shoulder to smile at the camera through their long wet hair, the picture of which was taken by the uncle holding it. The mother had a sweet and pleasant smile before her child(the poet) was born into this world. The sea in which they were paddling; which did not seem to have changed; washed their terribly transient wet feet.
After twenty to thirty years later, the mother took out the photograph and laughed nostalgically at the snapshot. Betty and Dolly were the two cousin sisters. She found it so hilarious that they had dressed up heavily for the beach. The sea holiday was her past for the mother while it was a laughter for the speaker.
Both mother and daughter wry; created by a distortion or lopsidedness of facial characteristics: bitterly or disdainfully ironic or funny; in the laborious ease of loss. But now, for the past few years, the mother has been dead just as one of those cousin sisters’ lives. There’s nothing else remaining to say about all these conditions. The matter is closed and its fate has been sealed by silence.
The poet reminisces that the sea holiday was the past of her mother and for her, the laughter of her mother is past now. Both the moments of life have been permanently etched in the poet’s mind with a feeling of eternal loss.

Death now has overpowered the innocence of these moments and the pleasure they treasured. The poet concludes the poem on a melancholy note with the comment that there is nothing to say or comment upon this sad event. The silence seems to silence all the other thoughts.



Lines 1 – 4:

The cardboard shows me how it was
When the two girl cousins went paddling
Each one holding one of my mother’s hands, And she the big girl – some twelve years or so.

The poet describes looking through a photo album in these lines, the pages of which appear to be made of cardboard. She looks at a specific photo. It is a picture of three girls the tallest and oldest one in the middle and two younger and shorter ones at each side of her. The girl in the middle is the mother of the poet, and the poet speculates that when the picture was taken, her mother must have been about twelve years old. The other two girls are two cousins from her mother. Each of the cousins holds on to one of the hands for support from the older girl. The photo was drawn on a beach on the day when the three girls had visited there for paddling.

Lines 5 – 9:

All three stood still to smile through their hair
At the uncle with the camera, A sweet face
My mother’s, that was before I was born and the sea, which appears to have changed less Washed their terribly transient feet.

The poet further discusses in these lines the circumstances under which her mother and her mother’s cousins were photographed. The poet claims the uncle of her mother was the one who took the photo. He had asked the three girls, and so they had, to pose for him. They had left their moist hair open and a portion of their faces were darkened by their hair. One could see that they were smiling into the camera through the hair film covering their mouths. One face in the picture, however, draws the attention of the poet to a greater extent than the other two faces. She’s focusing on the face of her mother, and she says the face was a sweet one.
The poet also claims the photo was taken long before she was born. Naturally, since the time the photograph was taken, the face of her mother had changed since then. By comparison, the ocean on the beach where the photo was taken had altered to a lower degree. That very ocean washed the poet’s mother’s feet and her two younger cousins the day the photo was taken. The poet calls those feet “terribly transient” as all the girls in that photograph stopped being so young and since then have grown up. Their childhood did not last long.

Lines 10 – 13:

Some twenty-thirty- years later
She’d laugh at the snapshot. “See Betty
And Dolly,” she’d say, “and look how they
Dressed us for the beach.” The sea holiday

The poet stops looking at the photo in these lines and recalls what her mother said about the photograph. Whether it was twenty years after the photograph was taken or thirty years after it, the poet is not sure, but she recalls her mother telling her to look at how the cousins, called Betty and Dolly, looked at that young age. The mother of the poet also told her to see how her parents dressed them up for a beach trip. Maybe there was the plan to take the photo all along.

Lines 14-15

was her past, mine is her laughter. Both wry With the laboured ease of loss.

The poet claims in these lines that her mother used to see the photograph as an inroad to the past she left behind. The poet herself, on the other side, saw her mother’s memory laughing as a relic of the past that she missed every day. The memories of the past made the two females contemplating them feel disappointed in both instances as they tried hard to come up with what they had lost.

Lines 16 – 19:

Now she has been dead nearly as many years
As that girl lived. And of this circumstance There is nothing to say at all, Its silence silences.

In these lines, the poet says that for the past twelve years her mother has been dead, that is, the same number of years that her mother’s age was in the photograph she had been looking at. The poet can believe in the death of her mother, but she has no words to explain how she has been influenced by death. She was also left speechless by the fact that death silenced her mother.


An oxymoron is a figure of speech that contradicts or appears to contradict itself. Examples often given are “gigantic shrimp” or “controlled chaos.” Some are literary effects intended to produce a paradox, while others are made for humor. The poem “A Photograph” contains the oxymoron “laboured ease,” which in the context of loss may mean avoiding the public display of grief.


1. Comment on the tone of the poem.
Ans. The tone of the poem is that of sorrow. The whole poem passes through the lament of the loss of something close and dear. Shirley Toulson looks at her mother’s old photograph and is reminded of her mother who is no longer. She recalls the time when her mother was twelve years old and looked nice and happy.

2. What is the significance of the ‘cardboard frame?’
Ans. The cardboard frame or picture shows the transience of human life. Although the sense of loss (on the death of one’s near and dear, ages ago) may never go away completely but with time one has to accept the eventuality, mortality and lack of permanence of human life. You have to come to terms with the loss of your dear departed ones, and you have to accept the inevitable. The past memories can leave you silent, dazed as the silence in the photograph. Hence, human life is ephemeral in nature and temporary and nothing can erase this naked fact.

3. What emotions does the poet’s mother have when she looks at the photograph?
Ans. The mother feels nostalgic looking at her bygone years. She laughs out loud and tells her daughter how her cousins had heavily dressed up for the beach. She recollects those days when she was innocent, youthful and playful.

4. What is silence and how has it silenced the poet?
Ans. There is nothing to say because the poet has lost her mother and her lovely smile forever. She is left without words. The poet’s mother’s death has silenced the poet.

5. ‘Each photograph is a memory.’ Justify the statement in light of the poem.

Ans. Photographs are memories for lifetime purposes that are captured and retained. “A Photograph” by Shirley Toulson captures one such time when her mother was young and she and her cousins had went on a beach holiday. Mother and her cousins are gone these days, but even after thirty years later the photograph succeeds in bringing those memories back. The mother’s laughter as she watched the photograph became a past incident. But the photograph enables the poet, through the picture captured thirty years ago, to recall and revive the laughter. Photographs are therefore memories of bygone days.

6. What does the word ‘cardboard’ denote in the poem? Why has this word been used?
Ans. The cardboard is a very hard and stuff paper. It is a part of a photo frame that keeps the picture intact. In her poem,’ The Photograph,’ the poet has ironically used it. This cardboard helps to keep the photograph of the 12-year-old girl safely intact who herself was of temporary nature.

7. What has the camera captured?

Ans. The camera had captured a phonograph of the three young ladies. One of them was the pretty face of the poet’s mother who was a young lady of twelve around that time. The other two were the smiling faces of the two cousins- Betty and Dolly. They hold the hands of the mother of the poet.

8. What has not changed over the years? Does this suggest something to you?
Ans. Nature has not changed over the years.It symbolizes eternity, immortality and permanence. Human life is temporary and ephemeral in nature, and nothing can erase this bare reality. In the poem we see only the sea has not changed. The pretty faces and the feet of the three young girls have greatly changed with time.

9. The poet’s mother laughed at the snapshot. What did this laugh indicate?
Ans. The poet’s mother laughed at the photo taken years earlier. She and her two little cousins stood holding each other’s hand in the photograph. She laughed at them all because she found it so hilarious that they had dressed up heavily for the beach. They might have looked funny to her. Their laughter showed the spirit of youth.

10. What is the meaning of the line “Both wry with the laboured ease of loss”
Ans. Both the mother and the poet experienced a great feeling of loss. The mother lost the innocence of her childhood and the youthful spirit captured by the photograph a few years ago. The poet, on the other side, has lost her mother’s smile, which has become a thing of the past. She also lost her mother later.

11. What does “this circumstance” refer to?
Ans. The’ circumstance’ here relates to the death of the poet’s mother. Her deceased mother’s photograph makes the poet nostalgic and brings sad emotions from the past. But the poet has nothing to say about the circumstance because death is inescapable.

12. The three stanzas depict three different phases. What are they?
Ans. The first stanza demonstrates the mother of the poet as a woman of twelve with a beautiful smiling face. Then she paddles on a beach with her two cousins girls. All of them have a happy youthful laugh. This is before the birth of the poet. The second phase depicts the middle-aged mother laughing at her own long-recorded snapshot. The third phase portrays her mother’s death silence on the poet’s face.

Short Questions


The cardboard shows me how it was
When the two girl cousins went paddling,
Each one holding one of my mother’s hands, And she the big girl- some twelve years or so.

a. What does the ‘cardboard’ show the poet?

Ans: The’ cardboard’ displays the scene with three women on the sea beach to the poet.
b. Why did the two girl cousins hold one of the poet’s mother’s hands?
Ans: As the poet’s mother was ‘the big girl,’ that is, the eldest of the three girls so the brothers of the two girls hold one of her hands.
c. How old was the oldest girl among the three cousins?
Ans: Among the three cousins, the oldest girl was some twelve years old.
d. How did the girls go to the sea beach?
Ans: The girls went to the sea beach ‘paddling’. It means walked barefooted in the shallow water.


Now she’s been dead nearly as many years As that girl lived. And of this circumstance T here is nothing to say at all. Its silence silences.

a. How long has the poet’s mother been dead?
Ans: The poet’s mother has been dead for about twelve years.

b. What is the meaning of the word ‘circumstance’ in the poem?

Ans: The word ‘circumstance’ in the poem means the death of the poet’s mother.
c. Why is there nothing to say at all?

Ans: The poet has lost her mother and her beautiful smile forever.Therefore there is nothing to say at all.
d. What silences the silence?
Ans: The silence of the death silences the silence.
Q. Write answers of the following questions in about 40 words each: (2 marks each)

a. Describe the three girls as they pose for the photograph?

Ans: The three girls came to the sea beach to be photographed by their uncle. The older cousins held the elder cousin’s hands. They smiled through their hair as they stood still for a photograph.

b. Why would the poet’s mother laugh at the snapshot?

Ans: The poet’s mother would laugh at the snapshot because she found it so hilarious that they had dressed up heavily for the beach. It revived her memories of bygone happy days on the sea beach and the amusing way in which they were dressed for the beach.

c. What are the losses of the poet’s mother and the poet?

Ans: The poet’s mother’s loss is of her old happy days on the sea beach while the loss of the poet is the beautiful smile of her mother as she is now dead.

d. The entire poem runs through the lament of loss of something near and dear. Which feeling is presented prominently here?

Ans: The nostalgic feeling is presented prominently the poem.

To The Night | Summary, Explanation, Analysis and Questions 5

To The Night | Summary, Explanation, Analysis and Questions

To The Night Summary

To The Night is a remarkable lyric by Shelley. It is full of the passion and the yearning so typical of much of Shelley’s poetry. The poem expresses Shelley’ intense desire for Night, which he has personified. The poem is a wonderful illustration of Shelley’s power of making his own myths. Not only has night been personified and made to live before us, but Day, Sleep, and Death are also treated in the same manner. Furthermore, relationships have been established between Night, Sleep and Death.

This poem expresses the writer’s intense love of Night and contains an invitation to her to come soon. The poem is a sort of address of welcome to Night. The poet asks Night to spread herself rapidly over the sky. The whole day, Night has been weaving dreams of joy and fear in her cave. These dreams are to be seen by human beings in their sleep. Those who see joyous dreams love Night, while those who see fearful dreams regard Night as terrible. The poet wants Night to come without delay. Let Night establish her supremacy over the world. Let her wrap herself in a gray cloak decorated with stars, and let her wipe out the light of the day with her darkness. Let her sleepy influence be felt over city, sea, and land. The poet then gives expression to his passionate delight in Night. When he arose and saw the dawn, he felt unhappy at the departure of Night. At all hours of the day he felt miserable because of the absence for Night and sighed for her coming. Death and Sleep offered to come to the poet but he rejected their offers because he did not feel attracted by them. Let Sleep and Death come to him when there is no more Night for him. But at present he is fascinated only by Night and appeals to her to come soon :

Swift be thine approaching flight,

Come soon, soon !

‘Hymn to the Spirit of Nature’s is a delightful lyric taken from Shelley’s poetic drama Prometheus Unbound (Act II, scene v). It is a song sung by a voice in the air and addressed to Asia who, in the play, represents Intellectual Beauty, or the Soul of the world, or as the title above indicates, the Spirit of Nature. Prometheus is the spirit of love in mankind, while Asia is the spirit of love in Nature. The union of Prometheus and Asia in Shelley’s play is the union of the spirit of love in man with the spirit of love in Nature. Their union marks the regeneration or redemption of the world of man and the world of Nature, and signifies the end of evil in the universe.

This song in praise of Asia is sung by an unknown voice in the air. Perhaps it is the voice of Prometheus who loves Asia. In any case, it is a glowing tribute to Asia. Asia is the Life (that is, the essence of life, or the source of life in Nature). Her lips brighten with their love, the breath passing between them. Her smiles, before they disappear, warm up the cold air. She ought to hide her smiles in her eyes which are so deep and so labyrinthine (that is, bewildering) that whoever looks into them will faint with intoxication. Asia is the child of light (that is, made of light or brightness). Her body seems to burn through her clothes in the same way as the brightness of the morning appears through the clouds. Wherever she may be, she is surrounded by a heavenly atmosphere. It is not possible to look at Asia because her beauty is dazzling and unbearable. Her voice is sweet and soft. It is like liquid splendour, and it screens her from view so that everybody can feel her presence but none can actually see her. Asia is the Lamp of Earth (because of her brightness). Wherever she goes, she sheds light and illumines the dark shapes of earth. The souls of those whom Asia loves can walk upon the winds till they fail as Prometheus is now failing and although he is feeling confused by Asia’s overwhelming beauty and although he seems lost because of his love for her, yet he does not complain or feel any regret.

Explanatory Notes of To The Night

Swiftly walk over the western wave.. thy flight ! (Stanza I).

The poet here makes an appeal to Night which has been personified. Night seems to the poet to be a living being, capable of acting in accordance with its own will and capable of listening to the poet. Shelley has, therefore, created a myth here. He appeals to Night to spread itself over the western sky where the sun sets. He imagines that Night spends the hours of daylight in some misty eastern cave, all alone, and that it keeps busy during that time, manufacturing or weaving dreams of joys and fear for human beings. These dreams are seen by human beings during their sleep. Sweet dreams, which human beings see, make Night dear to them; but the frightening dreams, which they see, make Night terrible to them. Thus human beings are in love with Night and yet, at the same time, they are afraid of Night. The poet is in love with Night without being afraid of it. He wants Night to come swiftly and without delay.

Wrap thy form in a mantle gray, star-inwrought. The poet calls upon Night to wrap itself in a gray coloured cloak which has stars woven in its texture. The dark sky is regarded here as the mantle of Night, and the stars that shine in the sky are supposed to be woven in the texture of that mantle.

Blind with thine hair … wearied out.

(Lines 10-11). Here Day is also personified. The poet asks Night to come and spread its black hair over the eyes of Day, so that Day may no longer be able to see. Then the poet asks Night to overwhelm Day with kisses. Let Day be kissed so vehemently and repeatedly that Day feels tired of these kisses and flees from the world. This is poetic fancy. What the poet means is that, with the coming of Night, Day withdraws from this world.

Touching all with thine opiate wand. We are to imagine that Night carries in its hand a magic staff which as the power of sending everyone, who is touched with it, to sleep. When Night comes, all creatures fall asleep.

And the wearied Day……. an unloved quest

(Lines 19-20). When Day was tired of its stay on the earth, it felt like resting. And yet Day stayed on for some time more, just as a guest might prolong his stay in a house where he is no longer welcome. (The simile is very appropriate).

Thy brother Death came……. No, not thee!

(Lines 22-28). The poet is interested neither in Death nor in Sleep. He looks upon Death as the brother of Night, and he calls Sleep a child of Night. Death is the brother of Night because Night stands for darkness, and Death takes human beings into the unknown dark regions. Sleep is the child of Night because it is during night that human beings are overcome by Sleep. Both Death and Sleep offer to come to him. Death is prepared to take him away from this world in case he is sick of life. Sleep, which makes the eyelids close, speaks to the poet very sweetly and softly like the murmuring of a bee at noon-time. Sleep offer to creep close to the poet and to send him into a state of temporary forgetfulness. But the poet rejects both these offers, because he is attracted only by Night.

(Sleep, the filmy-eyed – Sleep is called filmy-eyed because the eyes of person whe feels sleepy look dim or filmy).

Death will come when thou art dead – Death would come to the poet in its own time.

Soon, to soon – Death would not take long in coming to the poet. (Here is an unconscious prophecy of Shelley’s premature death. It was at the age of thirty that he was drowned in the sea).

Sleep will come when thou art fled – The poet does not accept the offer of Sleep, because Sleep can come to him when Night is gone. He would not like to waste his time in sleeping. He can sleep permanently after death.

Critical Appreciation of To The Night

In this poem Shelley expresses his deep love of Night. Night is personified here and regarded as a living entity, conscious of its own existence and of the existence of others. Night has a strange fascination for the poet who is attracted neither by dawn nor by day. Neither sleep nor death has any charm for the poet. He wants his beloved Night. He expresses his love for Night in such lines as the following : Swift be thy flight !” “Come, long-sought!” “Come soon, soon”.

There are a number of exquisite nature-pictures in the poem. Night is imagined as living in some lonely and misty eastern cave where, throughout the day, she weaves as wearing a gray cloak studded with stars. When Night appears, she blinds with her dark hair the eyes of Day and kisses Day till Day is exhausted and retires from the scene. The idea of Day giving place to Night has been conveyed to us through a beautiful picture : Wrap the form in a mantle gray,

Star – inwrought !

Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day;

Kiss her until she be wearied out, …..

Night is then depicted as wandering over city, sea and land, and producing a sleepy effect upon all living beings. More pictures follow in the poem. There is the picture of the sun riding high and the dew vanishing, and there is the picture of flowers and trees oppressed by the heavy weight of noon. The weary Day is depicted as lingering like an unloved guest, a most appropriate simile.

There is an atmosphere of melancholy in the poem which is also characterized by a note of longing. The poet yearns for Night. Several times in the course of the poem he says that he is sighing for Night, and several times he appeals to her to come soon. The music and melody of the poem lend a great charm to it. Here is a specimen of the poem’ss music :

Death will come when thou art dead,

Soon, too soon –

Sleep will come when thou art fled ;

Of neither would I ask the boon I ask of thee, beloved Night – Swift be thine approaching flight,

Come soon,soon!!

In short, this poem has all the qualities of Shelley’s lyricism. The poem is remarkable also for the simplicity of its language and ideas. There is nothing abstract or obscure, either, about language or about the theme. Most of us do not have Shelley’s love for Night, and yet somehow we are made to share the writer’s sentiments in this poem, which only means that, as we read through the poem, we fall under its spell. The music of the poem has certainly something to do with this spell.

Assessment Questions

(vi) What is the main idea of the poem To Night?
A. It tells us about Shelley’s intense love of Night and is an invitation to her to come soon.

(vii) How is the Day depicted in To Night?
A. The weary Day is depicted as lingering like an unloved guest.

(viii) What does the Night do to the Day?
A. The Night blinds with her dark hair the eyes of Day and kisses till day is exhausted and retires from the scene.

(b) Answer the following questions in 500 words each:

(i) Critically analyze the Poem To Night.

A. See Critical Appreciation.

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