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Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold: Summary, Critical Analysis, Questions and Theme 1

Dover Beach By Matthew Arnold: Summary, Critical Analysis, Questions and Theme

Summary and Analysis of “Dover Beach” (1867)

Introduction to the Poem: The poem “Dover Beach” was published in 1867. The poet has expressed pessimism in this poem. The world is full of misery. Even the Greek poet Sophocles sang it. But in olden times men had faith and love for each other, but that they have now lost and instead fight with each other. The poet is reminded of it by ebb and flow of the sea at the Dover beach.

Summary of Dover Beach

One night, the speaker of “a Beach” sits with a woman inside a house, looking out over the English Channel near the town of Dover. On the coast of France, they see the lights just twenty miles away, and the ocean is calm and peaceful.

When the light over in France suddenly extinguishes, the speaker focuses on the English side, which remains tranquil. He trades visual imagery for aural imagery, describing the “grating roar” of the pebbles being pulled out by the waves. He finishes the first stanza by calling the music of the world an “eternal note of sadness.”

The next stanza flashes back to ancient Greece, where Sophocles heard this same sound on the Aegean Sea and was inspired by it to write his plays about human misery.

Stanza three presents the primary metaphor of the poem, with “The Sea of Faith / Was once too, at the full, and round earth’s shore.” The phrase indicates that faith fads from society just as the tide is from the shore. Through melancholy diction, the speaker laments this decrease of belief.

In the final stanza, the speaker directly addresses his beloved who sits next to him, asking that they always be true to one another and to the world that is laid out before them. He warns, however, that the world’s beauty is only an illusion, since it is, in fact, a battlefield full of people fighting in absolute darkness.

Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

Summary in Points

  • In the first stanza, the poet sees the calm sea in full tide at the Dover beach.
  • In the second stanza, the roar of the ebbing sea strikes a note of sadness in his mind.
  • In the third stanza, he says that Sophocles was reminded of human misery as he heard the roar of the sea-waves at the Greek coast.
  • In the fourth stanza, the poet talks, that once the sea of faith girdled this earth, but it is now retreating.

In the last stanza, he asks us to love each other as this world is really a joyless place.

Critical Appreciation

“Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold is a lyric poem set in the vicinity of a Dover, along the southeast bank of England, where Arnold and his new spouse spent their honeymoon in 1851. It is accepted that the poet composed the first draft of “Dover Beach” while here, experiencing the English Channel toward the coast of France, around twenty-six miles away. Arnold and his wife are frequently viewed as the models for the speaker and audience in the poem, albeit any young man and woman could represent the two figures in the story, caught in a moment of their initial lives.

“Dover Beach” is most often classified as a dramatic monologue, a poetic form that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and especially Robert Browning, found extremely attractive. The monologue, or poem spoken by a single voice, is made dramatic by the presence of a silent audience of one or more listeners, whose responses may be indicated by the speaker, or persona. In this way, the poet may be empowered to express views using another person’s voice, as William Shakespeare is known for doing.

This strategy may have been particularly attractive to Arnold, for the views of his speaker are diametrically opposed to his own education and upbringing. Matthew was six years old when he was moved into the Rugby School after his clergyman father Thomas Arnold became its headmaster or principal. As headmaster, Thomas Arnold gained a reputation for educational reform, based on his commitment to the high seriousness of making students aware of the moral as well as the social issues that would make them responsible citizens.

“Dover Beach” has often been read as a kind of seismological record of the shock waves in traditional religion brought about by the New Science in the mid-nineteenth century. The geology of Charles Lyell and others was forcing Europeans and Americans to rethink how life began on the planet. Lyell’s discoveries of fossils dating back more than one million years were making it increasingly difficult to accept the traditional notion in the book of Genesis that the world is the work of a creator a mere six or seven thousand years ago. By 1851, when “Dover Beach” was probably written, Charles Darwin, Alfred Russell Wallace, and other scientists had already theorized the essentials of evolution, but it would take Darwin another eight years to publish his findings. Even then, Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) only at the urging of his friends, who warned him that others would publish first if he did not set aside his concerns for the devastating moral and spiritual consequences of challenging the traditional story of how life began. It is probably no coincidence that Arnold himself postponed the publication of “Dover Beach” until 1867.
The poem begins with a naturalistic scene, clearly within the Romantic tradition established by William Wordsworth. Like Wordsworth, Arnold understands the elegance and power of simple language: “The sea is calm tonight./ The tide is full, the moon lies fair/ Upon the straits.” As often noted, the first stanza contains fourteen lines and the second and third stanzas have six and eight lines, respectively, suggesting the sonnet form, but without its more complicated meter and rhyme systems. From its initial visual images, the first stanza and the subsequent two stanzas move toward the dominance of auditory images. The shift is justified by the obviously limited opportunity to see, even with moonlight, but also by the strong impact of the waves breaking on the beach. By the first stanza’s end, the persona, or speaker, has established the poem’s central metaphor of the waves’ “tremulous cadence slow” to represent an “eternal note of sadness.” Additionally, a mere five lines into the poem, the voice has introduced a listener in the scene—telling the reader to “Come to the window”—setting up a tension: Who is the listener? What will be the effect of the melancholy poetic statement on that listener?

This “eternal note” draws the persona further from the directly visualized opening scene with its simple but strong language. The allusion to the ancient Greek tragic dramatist Sophocles offers a context for the speaker’s growing “sadness.” (Arnold was among one of the last generations for whom a classical education entailed learning ancient Greek and Latin to read the classics in their original languages.) The allusion also draws the poem into the more didactic strategy of a statement—asserting rather than implying meaning—and the deployment of something like allegory—a “Sea of Faith” once at its “flow” but now at its “ebb.” This third stanza also reveals evidence of the poet’s effort at elevating the language, producing the difficult opening lines in which that sea once “round earth’s shore/ Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled,” a choice of words guaranteed to confuse the modern reader. This “girdle” is appropriate to the classical context of Sophocles, but not to the modern world, where it denotes an article of intimate apparel. However, attempts of academics to clarify that meaning have distracted attention from the figurative logic of a sea as a “girdle,” or belt, as well as from the unfortunate combination of sounds in “girdle furled.” Another issue left unaddressed is the dominance of pessimism in the persona’s inability to attend to the logic of this “Sea of Faith”: Whatever ebbs will inevitably flow in the future.

The final stanza recalls the earlier reference to the listener—“Ah, love, let us be true/ To one another!”—to focus on the melancholy consequences of the weakening of faith. To the persona, and presumably the poet, the world truly is “a land of dreams,” pipe dreams with nothing to believe in, not just God and an afterlife but “joy,” “love,” and so on. This is Romantic love at its most radical. Without love between a man and a woman, the world is as confusing—and as lethal—as a night battle, fraught with friendly fire. In a sense, Arnold is announcing the big question for the modern world, intent on forcing love to bear the enormous weight of providing human lives with meaning: If love is all humans have, what do they do when they cannot find love, or keep it? It is a question that resonates through the novels, too, of Ernest Hemingway, such as in his A Farewell to Arms (1929), or in the contexts of wedding receptions, where some have to suppress the depressing thought, will this be one of every two marriages that end in divorce?

1. Theme :

Matthew Arnold’s ‘Dover Beach’ captures beautifully the poet’s deep dissatisfaction with his age and its loss of faith. He puts for the idea that the root cause of the miseries of men in the modern world is lack of faith. This is an idea prevalent in both the prose and verse of Arnold.

2. Expression :

The idea is expressed in the form of a beautiful metaphor. Humanity is presented as a sea-shore, faith as the sea. In the past ages, the heart of man was full of faith like a beach covered with sea-water at the time of the flow of the tide. Today the human heart is dry, like a beach at ebb-tide. Only the dry and soulless religious formulas, ceremonies and practices remain in it like pebbles on sea beach.

3. Naturalness :

This metaphor is sustained throughout the later part of the poem, except in the last three lines, where modern life is presented as a dark plain where a mad battle is on. The metaphor of the sea emerges naturally out of the poem in gradual degrees. Nothing is forced.
The poem has all the suggestiveness associated with great poetry.

4. Pictorial Power:

Apart from the idea that this poem puts forth, it is remarkable for the beautiful and effective picture of Dover Beach presented in it. With a few touches, the poet succeeds in presenting a picture of great beauty vivid and clear. The sound of the waves beating against the shore is also beautifully captured.

5. A Note of Sadness:

The poem has sad music about it sad like the slow, mournful beat of the waves described in it. It has that note of sadness and dissatisfaction that is so common in Arnold’s writings. All things considered, it is one of the most beautiful poems in the language – simple and suggestive weighed with a heavy sweetness, yet restrained in expression as well as the sentiment.

D.S. Tatke makes the following comment on this poem- then heightens the meaning in the next eight lines by using the images to express the last journey which everyone must make, so does Arnold in this poem build a beautiful picture of the calm sea and the moon-blanched shore and makes us aware of the fact that though from the distance the picture is so calm and peaceful yet those who live near enough always hear the grating roar of pebbles and the eternal note of sadness and then deepens the meaning by giving it a philosophic content.

6. Transition to Philosophic Meditation:

The transition to philosophic meditation comes in the second stanza. The third uses the image of the first stanza to express the present predicament – the loss of faith and the consequent gloom which is the most prominent note of Arnold’s poems. The fourth stanza is an appeal to a beloved woman to be true to each other for that alone can sustain them in this land of dreams whose reality is very different from its appearance.

7. Need for a Positive Faith:

The poem successfully expresses the fascination and the need Arnold felt for a positive faith and the reluctance with which he must accept the painful, unavoidable reality.

Note the perfect picture of the age with all its complexity in the last three lines of the poem –

“And we are here as on a darkling plain

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight

Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

His poems are marked by a restraint and, a conscious control. Neither excessively musical nor deliberately rugged the expression diction, imagery, rhythm – is marked by a perfect clearness, competence, and precision. He is far too meditative a poet to be lyrical. His best poetry is reflective, always burdened by thoughts of the predicament of his generation. In a letter written in 1869, Arnold claimed that his poems ‘represent the main movement of the mind of the last quarter of a century’.

‘Dover Beach’ is one of Arnold’s most famous poems. It is one of his most characteristic poems too. It has a sad tone and it expresses Arnold’s sorrow at the loss of faith in the modern

When we analyse the epithets used in the poem, we find that Arnold does not use colour epithets anywhere in this poem. Even in the first stanza where he describes the landscape, no colour epithet is used. But this deficiency does not in any way mar the literary merit of the poem. Arnold describes the landscape in a way that the reader is easily able to visualize the landscape and its varied colour. “On the French coast, the light / Gleams, and is gone.” We can very easily visualize the colour here. Where he speaks of the “moon-blanch’d sand” he makes us see the sandy place shining white in the moon-lit night without using colour epithet.

Another way in which he makes up the deficiency of colour epithets is by making us hear the sound of the waves striking the shore and then returning. He says:

“Listen ! you hear the granting roar

Of pebbles which the waves such back, and fling

At their return, up the high strand,

Begin, and cease, and then again begin,

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring

The eternal note of sadness in.”

He again says: “But now I only hear

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,

Retreating to the beath

Of the night-wind down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world.

Assessment Questions

Short Questions

1. What do you appreciate in this poem?
Answer: We appreciate the clarity of expression gravity, dignity of thought, proportion, and harmony.

2. When was the poem published?
Answer: The poem was published in 1867.

3. What does the poet express in the poem?
Answer: The poet has expressed pessimism in the poem.

4. What classic reference does the poem display?
Answer: Even the Greek poet Sophocles (classic) sang it.

5. What great lectures did the people of old age have?
Answer: They had faith and love for each other.

6. What is the poet reminded of in the poem Dover Beach?
Answer: The poet recalls the old age of faith and leaves by the ebb and flow of the sea which the modern man does not have.

7. What kind of faith does Arnold refer to?
Answer: Arnold has Religious faith.

8. Is Arnold a poet of Nature?
Answer: No, he is not a worshipper of nature like Wordsworth.

9. What does ‘Nature’ mean to Arnold?
Answer: To Arnold nature is quite indifferent to man. It is man’s love for each other that helps

Let Us Sum Up

1. By now you must have understood the poem and the poet’s intention of his creative impulse

2. Written in 1867.

3. A classical poem with a pessimistic or tragic appeal.

4. Compares the olden times modern times etc.

More Questions of Dover Beach” by Matther Arnold

1. Who is the speaker of this poem? Who is he talking to? What is their relationship?

The speaker of the poem is a young man. He is speaking to his love. The poem suggests that they are having a difficult relationship (“And we are here as on a darkling plain swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight”).

2. What is the relationship between the setting in stanza one and the description in stanza two of what Sophocles heard beside another sea?

In the first stanza, the sea is described as playing an “eternal note of sadness.” Similarly, the Aegean Sea brings misery to Sophocles’ mind. The relationship is that the sea is not a symbol of hope and independence, but rather of misery and of constraint.

3. What is the relationship of the first and second stanzas to the “Sea of Faith” described in stanza three?

The Sea of Faith, like the beaches and seas described in the first two stanzas, once was alive and present around the world. The difference is that the Sea of Faith represents hope and faith, while the new water represents misery.

4. The final stanza offers love as the solution for the problems that the speaker and his lover see in the world around them. Explain the meaning of love and its importance in this poem. Do you agree with Arnold’s idea? What does this poem suggest about love and the modern world?

Love, like the waters, is ever present, but also ever changing (ebbing and flowing). The speaker suggests that love is the solution since it is natural and unsought for. Love, too, is present. He urges his love to focus on the present calm, the present love, in hopes that it will lead to a bright future.

5. The poem’s concluding image calls to mind the chaotic night-battle at Epipolae when Athenian warriors, unable to see, killed friend and enemy alike. What, to the speaker, do the waters warn of?

The waters warn of humanity’s sad destiny by reminding him of the past.

Review Questions

1. Write a critical appreciation of the poem Dover Beach.

2. Who was Sophocles? How could he have heard in ancient Greece the same note of sadness in the sea as Arnold observed in Victorian England?

3. How are the ignorant armies, according to Arnold, clashing by night?

4. Where is the battle being fought?

5. Arnold employs no epithet of colour in Dover Beach. How does he make up for his deficiency?

6. What are the main characteristics of the Victorian Age to Which Matthew Arnold belonged?

7. What does the concluding stanza portray in the poem Dover Beach?

8. What kind of mental frame did Matthew Arnold have? Why ?.

9. Can you identify some chief pessimistic poets of the Victorian Age?

10. Write down the summary of the poem Dover Beach.

11. What were the circumstances that forced Arnold to criticize the modern man?

Note: For answers refer to the above notes.

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll Summary and Questions 2

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll Summary and Questions

Jabberwocky Summary

Jabberwocky is an epic poem told through nonsense phrases. The poem describes a father’s quest for his son involving the slaughter of a beast (The Jabberwock). The poem describes the son’s progress from his departure to his effective return.

In Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky,” the poet produces an epic tale using only seven four-line stanzas with twenty-eight nonsense phrases. Despite the reality that there are countless nonsense words, the reader can still make sense of the nonsense by evaluating how the nonsense words are used with the ordinary words to determine the occurrences of this epic poem.

Each stanza contributes to the plot line of a young boy whose father warns him of all the nonsense he faces in life and how he must attack this nonsense in order to learn the real meaning of life. Moreover, the mood shifts throughout each stanza as the tension starts to construct and is lastly released upon the Jabberwock’s slaughter.

The second stanza starts the quest of the epic hero. It’s here that the dad warns the child to be careful about something called a Jabberwock that has “jaws that bite and claws that catch” and other awful stuff like a Jubjub bird and a Bandersnatch.

The son begins his quest in the third stanza by taking his “vorpal sword in hand” and searching for the Jabberwock. He was “rested by the Tumtum tree” and meditated along the lines.

The encounter with the Jabberwock happens in the fourth stanza when the hideous creature arrives from the forest making weird noises and assaults the child. “The Jabberwock, with eyes of flames, came whistling through the tulgy wood and burbling as it arrived.” The hero, the son, triumphs in the third stanza when he kills the Jabberwock by cutting off his head. “The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

In the fifth stanza, the hero, the kid, triumphs when he kills the Jabberwock by cutting his head off. “The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head, he went galumphing back.” to his father.
The child returns home in the sixth stanza and the father is overjoyed; they are celebrating. “Oh, fragile day! Callooh! Callay!” The father shouts at the end of the epic venture.

The last stanza is a repetition of the first stanza with life returning to the starting environment, suggesting perhaps that life has returned to normal. The morning’s unsettled and uncomfortable feeling could now be gone because of the Jabberwock’s slaying.

Mood of The Poem

The mood of this poem changes throughout in relation to the setting characters’ actions. In the beginning, there seems to be a sense of normalcy. The mood seems to be serene with the toves, borogoves, and moms living quietly as they do every day, but there may be a feeling of apprehension in the shadows of these creatures.

In the second stanza, there is a change when the father warns the son about Jabberwock. The scary picture of this monster that has “jaws that bite and claws that catch” generates a frightening mood as the reader understands that the child ventures out to hunt this creature. The child begins his quest and the poem moves back to a peaceful moment when the child rests and reflects on what’s in store for him.

The mood changes to frightening when the jabberwock viciously interrupts this peaceful scene when he arrives with flaming eyes “whiffling through the tulgey wood, “with flaming eyes the courageous son stands his ground and in an exciting climax, he beheads the jabberwock with a “snicker-snack” with his “vorpal” blade and victoriously “galumphs” home. once again, we feel peaceful but happy as the father praises the child for completing a rite of passage into adulthood passage. Things finally come back to normal, and the toves, borogoves, and moms end the day as quietly as they started.


bryllyg – The time of broiling dinner, i.e. the close of the afternoon
slythy – smooth and active
tove – a species of Badger
gyre – to scratch like a dog
gymble – to screw out holes in anything
wabe – the side of hill
mimsy – unhappy
borogove – an extinct kind of parrot
mome – grave
rath – a land turtle
outgrabe – squeaked

Questions and Answers of Jabberwocky

1. Using the vocabulary above, write out the first stanza of the poem in a more standardized version of English.

Answers may vary. Example: It was evening, and the smooth active badgers were scratching and boring holes in the hillside, all unhappy were the parrots, and the grave turtles squeaked out.

2. The poem is an example of nonsense poetry. The term comes from nonce, or a made-up word. Carroll, however, claims that all the words actually have standard English roots. Choose any two of the words above and explain what you believe their English derivatives to be.

Answers will vary. Examples: Brillig (broil); slithy (slimy and lithe); gyre (from the old English gyaour meaning dog); mimsy (miserable).

3. What is the poetic form of “Jabberwocky”?

The poem is written in traditional ballad form.

4. The poem makes substantial use of alliteration. Find three examples of alliteration.

Answers: Here are some examples of alliteration used in the poem: “gyre” /“gimble”;
“the”/“that”/“the”/ “that”;

5. Why do you think this poem ends with the same stanza as it began?

Answers may vary. Example: Carroll may have done so to reinforce the ridiculousness of the poem. He may also have wanted to show that the world, which began in this poem as a relative calm place, was once again a place free of fright, thanks to the killer of the Jabberwocky.

6. Most of the nonsense words in this poem are nouns or adjectives. Why do you think Carroll chose to use nonsense words to replace these parts of speech in his poem?

Answers may vary. Carroll may have been hoping to show that, with actions intact, what characters look like, see and say can be left to the imagination of his readers so that the story told can be different for each person.

7. What is the key idea of the poem?
Answer: There is a sense in the nonsense that surrounds us, but we are able to overcome difficulties in spite of the nonsense.

Sir Patrick Spens Summary, Analysis and Questions 3

Sir Patrick Spens Summary, Analysis and Questions

Sir Patrick Spens by Anonymous

In Sir Patrick Spens are included several topics. The ballad treats more topics such as suffering, loss, loyalty, the conflict between conviction and obedience to authority, dangers at sea and death.

skipper – captain
faem – same
hame – home
fetch – return
alack – an exclamation denoting sorrow league – a distance of about 3.0 miles
lang – long

Introduction: Medieval ballads are generally anonymous; we don’t know who wrote them. They were probably originally an oral tradition and were eventually written down by various people in various places. Because they sprang from an oral tradition, there is a great deal of variation among them. The language is Middle English and often Scottish dialectic. While the modern reader can read them, there are many words that are not immediately easy to understand. They are invariably rhymed since rhyme makes it easier to remember something that is being recited from memory. Their subject matter is very diverse: comedy, tragedy, love, etc. They are generally down-to-earth in their subject matter and sentiments.

Sir Patrick Spens
There are three historical events which may have inspired this anonymous ballad and it generates a great deal of debate among scholars as to which of them is the real source. Scholars have not reached an agreement whether this poem was inspired by events of 1281, or 1290. What they agree upon is the fact that the original manuscript was transmitted from Scotland. The ballad was first printed in 1765 in Bishop Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry and it was reprinted many times.

Summary and Analysis of Sir Patrick Spens

The ballad depicts the King of Scotland, in residence at Dunfermline, who is wondering aloud where he can find a sailor worthy to voyage his ship. Sir Patrick Spens is suggested by an elderly knight, whose name we do not know. When Sir Patrick Spens receives the letter from the king, he is not only surprised, but he is frightened. It is wintertime and it is not very wise to sail at this time of year. The sailors are aware of the dangers, however, they are willing to do the King’s bidding. They are also superstitious and they believe it brings bad luck to set sail in this period of year. Against their instincts, Patrick Spens and his men set sail. Unfortunately, they fall prey to a storm and they all perish. They never return to their port again.

In the Child version, the poem has fourty-five lines, which are divided into simple four-line stanzas. The poem was intended to be sung or recited, therefore, the rhyming scheme ABCB reflects this attitude and oral nature of the work. The rhyming scheme is simple and only even-numbered lines are rhymed. The poem usually consists of one-syllable words, which deliver a dynamic and forceful reportage of events. The narrator employs a considerable amount of direct speech throughout the poem to enliven the story. Descriptions are clear and uncomplicated. The ballad is characteristic of rapid plot development. We find a lot of repetition and parallelism in the ballad. All the above-mentioned features generate a great deal of dramatical and emotional effect.

Sir Patrick Spens is a prime example of a narrative poem with a tragic ending. Sir Patrick Spens, a Scottish nobleman, is an excellent, skillful and brave sailor, who is loyal to his king and fulfills his duty even though he knows he will perish in the North Sea. The first stanza provides an introduction to the whole poem. The king sits on his throne and he is desperate for a skillful sailor, who would sail his ship. The king wants to find somebody (“O quhar will I get guid sailor“). At the same time he “sits“. This situation gives an impression that he is a static symbol of power. Other people, his subjects, are given orders to carry them out for him. The glass of red wine also puts emphasis on his power and, moreover, it represents an unfortunate and inevitable fate because the chalice of red wine may also function as a symbol of blood, doom, and death. Sir Patrick Spens does not have any options but to carry out the king’s wish.

The second stanza introduces an “elder“ knight, who claims that Sir Patrick Spens is “the best sailor/ That sails upon the sea.“ The knight is described as “elder“, which implies an idea that he is a respectable and powerful member of king’s court. Additionally, he sits at king’s right side and has the right to speak up (“Up and spak an eldern knicht“).

In the next stanza, the king writes and sends a letter to Spens. It is emphasized that it is “signed wi’ his hand“ and thus it is a letter of command with a royal signature. Spens has to accept the order, he cannot be disobedient because he is the king’s subject.

When Spens starts reading the first lines of the letter, he laughs. There can be many reasons for his laughter and it does not have to be necessarily an indication of joy. He may laugh because someone praises his skills at sea. It is possible he considers the letter as a joke because he knows it would be foolishness to sail in winter. His laughter may also be a bitter sign of irony or even sarcasm. He laughs because he knows how ridiculous it is to sail at winter sea. This idea is confirmed in the next two lines. When he realizes the letter is not a joke but a cruel reality, he starts to weep. “The teir blinded his ee“.He has to accept his fate, which means he is doomed to die. He is aware of the dangers and fury of the sea in winter. He can clearly see his fatal future and therefore, his eyes are not “blinded“ (irony). He knows that he cannot escape death.

The fifth stanza is introduced with an exclamation: “O quhar is this has don this deid,/ This ill deid don to me“. Spens would like to know who wants to harm him. We do not receive an answer, although we may suspect some people from the king’s court, e. g. the elderly knight or the king himself. Another interpretation would be to understand the exclamation as a sign of despair and hopelessness, as a moment when Spens fully realizes his irrevocable fate. This stanza is finished by two lines in which Spens realizes the dangers of winter sea and ridiculousness and futility of the king’s order.

After reading the king’s letter in solitude on the beach, Sir Patrick Spens promptly orders his sailors to prepare for a voyage: “Mak haste, mak haste, my mirry men all“. Ironically, the sailors are anything but “merry“. In the last two lines of the sixth stanza, one sailor of the crew addresses Spens and reminds him of “a deadlie storme“. He addresses him as a master. He also knows that they will all die, however, he does not defy his master. Comparatively, there is the same hierarchy as between the king and Sir Patrick Spens. The sailor obeys the orders of Sir Patrick Spens in the same way Sir Patrick Spens obeys orders of his king. The poem illustrates the stratification of medieval society.

In the following stanza, a sailor continues his speech and he expresses his fear of the storm: “Late late yestreen I saw the new moone/ Wi’ the auld moone in hir arme;/ And I feir, I feir, my deir master,/ That we will come to harme.“ The new moon in the old moon’s arms (the shape in the sky) is considered an ominous sign, a bad omen. The sailor expresses his worry about the situation.

The eighth stanza is a tragic climax of the ballad. There is a lot of prompt action condensed in this stanza. The Scottish nobles come aboard the ship to be transported back to Scotland. At the beginning of this stanza, we witness the Scottish noblemen come aboard the ship, at the end we can see their hats floating in the sea. The narrator emphasized the irony of the situation. The nobles “wer richt laith/ to weet their cork-heild schoone“ (they did not want to wet their shoes) when they went aboard. Unfortunately, they were all wet (and drowned) before long. The interests of the nobles (not to wet and spoil their expensive shoes, which are signs of wealth and abundance) are presented as petty in comparison with the actions of Sir Patrick Spens. They are noble due to their origin and wealth, however, Sir Patrick Spens is noble because of his brave deeds. The tragedy (the shipwreck) is described as a “play“ of nature, which has no mercy with anybody. At the end of the storm, nothing remained but the floating hats, which represent the dead bodies of the crew. Moreover, they represent the bodies of the dead passengers, whose wealth could not avert their tragic fate. The reader can feel a strong sense of vanity in this part of the ballad. The author attempts to express that there are limits of worldly wealth.

The ninth and tenth stanzas are both introduced by the same weepy line: “O lang, lang, may the ladies stand“. These lines confirm the tragedy and its irreversibility. The ladies will never see Sir Patrick Spens and their lords alive. There are detailed hints at material wealth and worldliness of the noble ladies (“their fans“, “their gold kerns in their hair“). Generally, the ladies are displayed with irony. Their fussy and gentle representation stands in contrast with hardships at sea, which their lords, sailors, and Sir Patrick Spens had to face. Moreover, their husbands do not belong to them, they belong to death and sea. The ladies want to see their husbands, however, they will never see them again.

Ironically, the last stanza ends with a picture of Sir Patrick Spens, his “good“ ship and the Scots lying “fifty fadom deip“ at the bottom of the sea. The irony of the noblemen’s social status is underlined with the position of their bodies: “And thair lies guid Sir Patrick Spens,/Wi’ the Scots lords at his feit.“ In the end, Sir Patrick Spens is at a higher rank in society than the nobles. The worldly wealth of the lords is no more significant and bravery and skills set Sir Patrick Spens above the lords. Thus, the author sets a moral about the limits of material wealth and worldly establishment.

Sir Patrick Spens together with his sailors is presented as a hero. He is presented as a humble man, who is forced to face his fate by external circumstances. He struggles against severe natural elements and he is also a victim of his king’s orders. His bravery and courage lie in his acceptance of his king’s biddings. Sir Patrick Spens accepts his fate from the very beginning of the ballad. Moreover, he commands his subordinate sailors to follow the same life story. I dare to assert that his life and deeds and the lives of his sailors are presented as a sacrifice. They sacrifice their lives to their king.

There are several levels of loyalty in the ballad, which are presented in the characters of the king, Sir Patrick Spens, his sailors, and other people. Moreover, loyalty is strongly perceived as obedience to someone with a higher social status. It is presented as a must; people with lower social status obey those with higher position in society. The ballad reflects feudal system and its hierarchy of the Medieval Times. Sir Patrick Spens, the king’s subject, does his king’s biddings and his sailors do the same to Sir Patrick Spens. All of them are loyal servants, who do not dare to disobey their master’s requests. The requests are presented as unreasonable and absurd. Nevertheless, none of the characters questions their legitimacy and none of them tries to avoid their fate.

The captain is a fatalistic character. He knows from the beginning that he is doomed to lay down his life and it is remarkable that he transfers his fate to his sailors and causes their perishing as well. The suffering is collective. All the characters encounter loss and death. The king loses his best sailor and his hope of bringing the queen back to his lands.


The ballad Sir Patrick Spens uses 4-3-4-3 metric. There are no other variants of Sir Patrick Spens and all lines have the same rhythm and rhyme scheme.

The first and third verse of each stanza, have four accents, while the second and fourth verse have three accents. Their accents form a rhythm that is iambic and ballads have musicality when reading, indicating that they were sung during the performance.

We can also say that in this ballad is used much alliteration, i.e. repeating the same consonant at the beginning of some consecutive words:

For I brought as much white money
As will gane my men and me.

In the ninth and tenth stanza is used repetition, repeating the same word:

1. They hadna been a week, a week,
In Noroway but twae,

2. “Ye lie, ye lie, ye liars loud!

Sae loud’s I hear ye lie.


1. In what point of view is the poem written? Who is the narrator?

Answer: The poem is written in the third-person, limited omniscient point of view. The narrator is an unnamed third person who is observing the events and dialogue presented.

2. In the fifth stanza, Sir Patrick Spens is moved to tears as he reads a letter requesting his help. What causes this display of emotion?

Answer: Sir Patrick Spens realizes he must help the King of Norway rescue his daughter, as he is a man of honor and duty. However, he regrets he must leave at that time, as the sea is at its most difficult, and he knows he may not survive.

3. What modern-day saying does the line “Be it wind, be it weet, be it hail, be it sleet, Our ship must sail the faem” sound like?

Answers may vary. Example: The United States Postal Service unofficially adopted a similar slogan, “Be it wind, rain, sleet or snow, the mail will be delivered.”

4. What happens to the ship in section II?

Answer: The ship encounters a fierce storm and is sunk.

5. At the end of the poem, Sir Patrick Spens is said to be laying fifty-fathoms deep. What is he doing there?

Answer: On his way home, Sir Patrick Spens and his sailors are overtaken by a powerful storm and drown. Many will wait for the sailors’ return for a long time, never knowing that they rest at the bottom of the ocean. Sir Patrick Spens has died in the shipwreck, and so his body is at the bottom of the ocean.

6. A ballad generally consists of quatrains with the following metrical scheme: the first and third lines have four accented syllables, while the second and fourth have three accented syllables. What is the metrical scheme of this poem? Does it fit the standard form of the ballad?

Answers may vary, but students should be able to effectively analyze a quatrain of the poem in order to show how it successfully adheres to the ballad structure.

A Girl Called Golden: Summary and Solved Questions 4

A Girl Called Golden: Summary and Solved Questions

A Girl Called Golden

Why did you run
When your schoolmates were walking?

Why did you sprint

If they started to run?

Why did you train

while others were playing?

What was the secret

That made it seem fun?

Was it the feel

of the fresh air and sunshine?

Was it the stir

of the breeze in your hair?

What made the coach

recognize you were special?

Was it because

you had courage to spare?

Showing your will

when the muscles were aching,

Long spells of effort

and much to be learned,

Heeding the words

that some others rejected,

Knowing that winning

could only be earned.
Time slipped away

then came the Olympics;

Still in your teens

but spurred on by the cheers;

Glory at last –

as you gained your gold medals,

A time to remember

the rest of your years.

A Girl Called Golden Summary

Summary: The Poem ‘A Girl Called Golden’ is written in praise of Betty Cuthbert. She was a great sprinter and had won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics Games in Melbourne and one more at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Betty Cuthbert who had a passion for running. She then pursues her career and becomes an Olympic winner. Betty trained herself when her friends were busy playing. She practiced and showed courage even in time of physical diversity. Though she had a strong will, her muscles were aching. She knew that she had to be hardworking and determined. Coach recognized Betty as a special one compared to others. Time had passed and when Olympics came, she was still in her teens and was cheer by others. It was a glorious moment in her life when she won three gold medals. It was the time to remember the rest of the years for which she struggled to attain at the age. The title of the poem suits because of the girl’s hard work and determination.

Answer the following questions:

1. What was the secret that made Betty Cuthbert seem fun?

Ans.: The secret that made her seem fun is the feel of the fresh air and sunshine and the stir of the breeze of hair.

2. What made the coach recognize her was special?

Ans.: The coach used to recognize her was special because she had the courage to spare.

3. What does Betty was showing?

Ans.: Betty was showing her will when the muscles were aching.

4. What should be remembered according to the poet?

Ans.: The time to be remembered for the rest of her years.

5. What was the glory at last?

Ans.: The glory at last was she gained her gold medals.

6. Who is the poet speaking about?

Ans.: The poet is speaking about an Australian athlete by name Betty Cuthbert or Elizabeth

7. Who is the poet of the poem ‘A Girl called Golden’?

Ans.: David Bateson is the poet of the poem ‘A Girl called Golden’.

8. What did Betty do when her schoolmates were playing?

Ans.: Betty Cuthbert use to train to run or sprint when her schoolmates were playing.

I9. What according to poet makes Betty run faster?

Ans.: The poet says that fresh air and sunshine feels Betty run faster.

10. When did Betty win her Gold Medals?

Ans.: Betty won three gold medals at the 1956 Olympics games in Melbourne. She added the fourth gold medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

III Read each of the following extracts and answer the questions given below:

1. “Why did you run?”

a. Who does ‘you’ refer to?

Ans.: ‘You’ refers to Betty Cuthbert.
b. Who said this and what made him say so?

Ans.: The poet David Bateson said this. He asked her why did she run when her classmates were walking.
2. “Why did you sprint?”

a. Who said this?

Ans.: The poet David Bateson said this.
b. Why did she sprint?

Ans.: Betty used to sprint when her schoolmates started to run.

3. “Why did you train?”

a. Who said this?

Ans.: The poet David Bateson said this.
b. When did she train and what?

Ans.: Betty trained to sprint or to run when her mates were playing.

4. “What was the secret?”

a. Who said this?

Ans.: The poet David Bateson said this.
b. What was the secret that made her fun?

Ans.: The secret that made her fun is the feel of the fresh air and sunshine, the stir of the breeze
in her hair.

5. “What made the coach recognize you?”

a. Who did the coach recognize?

Ans.: The coach recognized Betty Cuthbert.

b. What did he recognize in her?

Ans.: The coach recognized Betty Cuthbert that she is special in running to sprint than the others, and the courage to spare in her.

I Heard a Fly Buzz when I Died | Summary, Theme, Stylistic Features, Solved Questions 5

I Heard a Fly Buzz when I Died | Summary, Theme, Stylistic Features, Solved Questions

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died

I heard a Fly buzz– when I died—
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air—
Between the Heaves of Storm–

The Eyes around– had wrung them dry-
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset–when the King
Be witnessed in the Room–

I willed my Keepsakes-Signed away
What portion of me be
Could make Assignable–and then
There interposed a Fly–

With blue, uncertain stumbling buzz
Between the light–and me–
And the Windows failed–and then
I could not see to see–

Written in 1862, ʻI heard a Fly buzz-
when I diedʼ was first published in Emily Dickinsonʼs third posthumous collection of poetry, Poems by Emily Dickinson, in 1896. The poem has been an object of much critical debate. In fact, since the poemʼs publication, there has been wide critical divergence over the symbolic function of the fly as a symbol and its relationship to the death of the poemʼs presumptive speaker.
Heaves: this word has many meanings. It can mean force or strenuous effort. In colloquial English, the word is associated with an attack of vomiting.
Onset: the beginning of something, particularly something difficult or unpleasant. The word can also mean
the initial attack in a military conflict.
Keepsakes: mementos or small items or gifts kept because they bring memories to mind.
Interposed: to place yourself or something else between two people or two different objects.

Summary /Analysis

This thought-provoking and even disturbing poem open in an unusual and arresting manner. The speaker tells us that at the moment of death, she heard a ʻFly buzzʼ. In typical Dickinson fashion, the poet attempts to make the abstract concrete through the association of two dissimilar qualities, equating the heavy, oppressive feeling associated with her death bed to the ʻStillness in the Air Between the Heaves of Stormʼ.
In the second stanza, the poet focuses on the friends and relations who have presumably gathered to view the last moments of the speakerʼs life. American attitudes towards death in the nineteenth century remained largely unaltered from previous centuries: death was an uncomfortable and undeniable reality of daily life. By 1850, when Emily was just 20 years old, life expectancy for an American adult had reached just 39 years of age. It is no wonder, then, that Dickinson puzzled and pondered over death in so many of her poems. Over the span of a few short months in 1844 when the poet was just 13 years old, an unusually large number of deaths were recorded amongst friends and family of the Dickinsonsʼ, culminating with the death of her friend and cousin, Sophia Holland. The young poet was permitted to keep vigil at her bedside. As Sophia neared death, Dickinson was mesmerized by the otherworldly smile that animated her friendʼs features. Many years later, the poet revealed how much this experience had marked her. She claimed it had sent her into a deep depression that required a long stay with her Aunt Lavina in Boston.
Here in this poem, she reflects a curiously nineteenth-century attitude towards death, when it was widely believed that the final moments of life provided a glimpse as to the destination of the dying personʼs soul. It is this sense of expectation that Dickinson alludes to when she speaks of the ʻBreathsʼ of the onlookers ʻgathering firmʼ.
In a surreal touch, those keeping this bedside vigil are reduced to body parts. They become ʻEyesʼ and ʻBreathsʼ and we learn absolutely nothing of their experience connection to the speaker. In what is presumably an allusion to Christ the King, in the final two lines of the stanza, we learn that those present wait in eager anticipation of the coming of the King:

For that last Onset-when the King
Be witnessed–in the Room.

In the next quatrain, the poet prepares for the final moment of life by assigning away everything that one expects to leave behind at the point of death:

I willed my Keepsakes-Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable […]

This is followed by a troubling revelation. Instead of the arrival of Christ or indeed any sign of salvation, the speaker is greeted by the buzzing of a fly. This ʻBlueʼ, ʻuncertainʼ and ʻstumblingʼ fly must be viewed as the antithesis of the surety and purpose afforded by a belief in an afterlife. As the poem draws to a close, the darkness and shadows begin to close in on the speaker. The final line of the poem captures a sense of finality that only death can bring:
I could not see to see-

Stylistic Features

From fifteenth-century chapbooks right through to the more sophisticated seventeenth-century works such as Jeremy Taylorʼs Holy Dying, there has been along with tradition in Western European literature that has centered on the notion of the good death. This lyrical poem, along with many others by Emily Dickinson, belongs to a sub-genre of poetry known as mortuary poetry. Traditionally, such poems describe the last moments of the dead or dying from the perspective of the living. However, in this poem, Dickinson subverts the genre and presents the reader with a disturbing account of death from the perspective of the dying person.
In the poem, all our expectations concerning the final moments of life are undermined. This process begins with the disturbing opening line, which shocks the reader into contemplating the full reality of the speakerʼs death:
I heard a Fly buzz–when I died–

This is one of Emily Dickinsonʼs finest opening lines. It effectively juxtaposes the seemingly inconsequential ʻFlyʼ with the momentous moment of death. In fact, the movement from one to the other is so rapid that the reader is left reeling. The inclusion of the two dashes in this line further disorientates and confuses us. Notice how the dashes somehow diminish the importance of what is being said here. It is as if the speaker is recounting the moment of her death in an offhand manner that is strangely removed from the gravity of the experience being described. The predominance of the personal pronoun ʻIʼ gives the poem a curiously voyeuristic appeal that is difficult to ignore. In the course of the poem, the poet vividly describes the movement away from the conscious, living world towards the finality of death.
As the light slowly fades and the presences in the room become dissociated and disembodied, the reader is made to experience a sense of tense expectation. It is a characteristic feature of Dickinsonʼs poetry that the abstract is made concrete through unusual associations. Here in this poem, in order to create such a sense of expectation, the poet employs a simile that likens the heavy stillness in the room to the calm ʻBetween the Heaves of Stormʼ.

However, what is so unsettling about this poem is the fact that this sense of expectation is never rewarded. The expected arrival of the ʻKingʼ and its implied promise of salvation is interrupted by a mere ʻFlyʼ.
In this manner, Dickinson raises some unsettling questions about death. The fly, of course, has frequently been associated with death.
Presumably, Dickinson is referring to the common bluebottle fly, a species of fly that frequently lays its eggs in decaying meat. This uncomfortable reality about the fly forces the reader to consider the physical reality of death. Furthermore, the fly has associations with evil.
In Colin de Plancyʼs Dictionnaire Infernal, first published in 1862, Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies and one of the chief devils in hell, is depicted as a blue bottle. Here in Dickinsonʼs poem, the ʻFlyʼ (notice the capital letter) is made to interpose ʻBetween the lightʼ and the speaker and as a result, she ʻcould not see to seeʼ. The buzzing of the fly completely absorbs the speakerʼs perception and consciousness. In order to convey fully the presence of the fly in the room, the reader relies on complex language devices. In particular, alliteration and synaesthesia render the presence of the fly a visceral one for the reader. The colour blue is made to buzz and the repetition of bʼ and ʻsʼ sounds create a random and disoriented feeling to the flyʼs movement that reinforces the sense of meaninglessness running throughout the poem.

Consequently, the image of the fly forces the reader to consider the possibility of a malevolent or at best meaningless afterlife that results in decay. ʻI heard a Fly buzz-when I diedʼ relies heavily on a formal metric pattern: trimeter and iambic tetrameter lines with four stresses in the first and third lines of each stanza. Dickinson normally relies on this hymnal metre when she is at her most formal.

However, here the rhythmic insertion of the long dash interrupts the metre and contributes to the sense of uncertainty as the fly stumbles aimlessly around the room. By employing a formal hymnal metre that one would associate with a church service only to interrupt it, Dickinson further disorientates the reader. It is as if she is saying that in the face of death, nothing, not even the religious and social formalities of the funeral service has meaning.
Interestingly, the rhyming scheme also mirrors the thematic and metric progression of the poem. All the rhymes leading up to the final quatrain are half-rhymes (ʻRoomʼ/ʻStormʼ, ʻfirmʼ/ʻRoomʼ, ʻbeʼ/ʻFlyʼ), while the only full or exact rhyme occurs in the last three lines:

Between the light–and me–
And the Windows failed–and then
I could not see to see–

This builds tension and suggests that a sense of completion is only achieved
with the death of the speaker. However, this sense of completion is not matched by any revelation, yet the speakerʼs consciousness remains. Her voice speaks to us, as it were, from beyond the grave. Yet all that voice is silenced the instant its senses cease to function. Precisely at the moment, we need to hear from the speaker the most, we are left with nothing but a series of disturbing questions: Who is the King? Is it, Jesus Christ or Death itself? More worryingly, we are faced with the possibility that this King maybe something deeply disturbing, like the Lord of the Flies or Beelzebub. In the words of Terry Heller:
The fly ushers the poet across the threshold suggested by its ʻBlue̶ uncertain stumbling Buzz. ʼ
The fly points the way, but the living cannot interpret its buzz and her voice stops.
Finally, while the death that occurs in this poem is presented as being painless, the vision of that death is a horrifyingly empty one. This is a truly fascinating, thought-provoking and unsettling piece of writing.

There's A Certain Slant of Light |Summary, Questions and Theme 7

There’s A Certain Slant of Light |Summary, Questions and Theme

There’s A Certain Slant of Light

There’s certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
of cathedral tunes.
Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are
None may teach it anything,
‘Tis the seal, despair,
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air,
When it comes, landscape listens
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, ‘it is like the distance
on the look of death.

There's certain slant of light

Summary: The poem is about the slant rays of light in a winter afternoon. The situation presented in the poem is that of a speaker contemplating the death-like winter afternoon. She is reminded of her own death. The slantness in the light of winter afternoons oppresses the speaker like the grave and heavy cathedral tunes.
The slant of light gives the speaker a heavenly hurt, it is not physical suffering but the suffering of the spirit. She must put up with this suffering because the sources of the suffering are so mysterious and powerful. The focus of nature which inflict pain on man is so powerful that even the landscape shudders at their approaching footsteps and shadows suspend their breath with dread. When they go away, it is like a look of death going away from us.

Stanza Wise Explanation

Stanza 1
The season, as well as the time of the day, are suggestive of death. The slant of light on a winter day is given to anthropomorphic qualities. It is oppressive like the sad cathedral tunes. The poet compares the slant rays of the dying day to the melancholy of the cathedral tunes.
Oppresses: Sends a heavy feeling of suffering and pain.

Weight of cathedral tunes: Sad notes of music from the High Mass in a cathedral.
Stanza 2
Nature represented by the slant rays of the setting sun in winter is a source of human suffering. Nature causes hurt to human spirit. This clearly reflects the poet’s tragic view of life and dimensions of her despair. The anguish caused by natural forces is not physical but spiritual.
Heavenly hurt: The word ‘heavenly’ suggests that the winter light is symbolic of God. it acts as the agent of God to inflict pain.
We can find no scar: The hurt is internal. It is on the spirit of man where the meaning of things lie.
Stanza 3
The air sends an imperial affliction. The word ‘imperial’ implies Emily’s use of ‘air to symbolize God. So, light and air, as agents of God, bring affliction and despair on the spirit of man. None can resist them and none can comprehend their ways.
None can teach it: None can understand the ways of God and nature. They are deceptive.
Imperial affliction: It is like the’heavenly hurt’ ; when it comes the landscape shudders with fear, and shadow suspends their breath. When it goes, it makes little difference. lt still leaves the marks of death.
When it comes: When the light comes with its heavenly hurt,or when the air brings the imperial affliction.
The landscape…..breath: The rest of nature, like the landscape and shadows, trembles with fear.
When it goes….death: When it goes, it is only like a look of death going a little farther from the speaker, that is, it still leaves the speaker pale with lear. The marks of death are left behind.

Detailed Analysis

This poem opens by telling us that there is a certain type of light associated with winter afternoons. The speaker then attempts to capture the ineffable essence of this bleak winter light. It is a light that is likened to the oppressive sound of church bells, and in the next stanza, we learn that it causes ʻHeavenly Hurtʼ. Incredibly, within the opening six lines of the first two stanzas, Dickinson has managed to synthesise a description of this light (and in the process, her depressed state of mind) in terms of the three senses of hearing, sight and touch. It quickly becomes apparent that this light produces a transformation in the speaker.
The poem moves almost imperceptibly from a depiction of the external landscape of a dull winter day to the inner landscape of the soul.
In the second stanza, the speaker posits the notion that the transformation wrought by this ʻHurtʼ is a near-religious one. It comes from heaven and bears a ʻSeal [of] Despairʼ. The use of the word ʻSealʼ may be an allusion by the poet to the Book of Revelation, which speaks of a ʻbook […] sealed with seven sealsʼ. In the speaker’s view, it is something that cannot be taught. It must be experienced for what it is.
An imperial affliction Sent us of the Air
In the final stanza, the speaker conflates the inner and external natures of this experience. It is something that causes the ʻLandscapeʼ to listen and the ʻShadowsʼ to ʻhold their breathʼ. The divisions between what the speaker is feeling and the natural landscape have become blurred and as a the result, the reader is brought closer to understanding the nature of this despair. It is something that harms and frightens the landscape itself. In the final lines of the final quatrain, the landscape holds its breath for some revelation, yet perceives only the ʻlook of Deathʼ.

Stylistic Features

In this, one of the very finest of her poems, Emily Dickinson has created a metaphor in which feeling and abstraction become inseparable. This unforgettable metaphor embodies the notion that changes in the natural or external world often parallel spiritual changes in the internal world. The poem is typical of Dickinsonʼs poetry in general, in that, it concentrates on the effect on the speaker of the experience that she is highlighting.
In so many of her poems, Dickinson puts forward the notion that the landscape has the power to affect the human psyche. Although Dickinson was deeply influenced by the American Transcendental movement and in particular, by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, she does differ from them in a number of key respects. These writers believed contact with nature to be a largely positive experience that had the ability to transport human beings beyond the here and now. In Dickinsonʼs view of the world, these encounters and the changes experienced as a result of them were not always pleasant or positive.
In this poem, for example, the speaker has been hurt and oppressed enough by this ʻSlant of lightʼso as to feel utterly lost and desperate. She experiences the fading of the light with a sense of isolation, arrangement and separation that one would normally associate with death in attempting to convey the experience that is induced by this winter light, the poet employs a range of complex language devices.
In the first stanza, Dickinson relies on a synaesthetic simile. The winter light, which is obviously a purely visual image, is likened to the ʻHeft ‘ Of Cathedral Tunesʼ. Here, the weighty sounds of a cathedral carillon convey to the reader the full burden of the speakerʼs despair. The use of the word ʻHeftʼ complicates the simile even further by suggesting not only the metaphorical weight of this winter light but also a tactile sense of the
oppression that it engenders. Thus, in one short line, the poet suggests that the light is oppressive both physically and metaphysically. Furthermore, such synaesthetic associations, which are a common stylistic feature of Dickinsonʼs poetry in general, break down the boundaries between the senses. Consequently, the confusion experienced by the speaker is mirrored in the poem oo language. Interestingly, the twentieth century poet T.S. Eliot used a similar technique, which he dubbed the ʻobjective correlativeʼ.
The critic Lois Cuddy has demonstrated that many of Dickinsonʼs idiosyncratic constructions were influenced by her study of Latin. Just as a homiletic style provided the foundation for Dickinsonʼs poetic variations,Latinate syntax and grammatical structures (in particular parenthesis and ellipsis) allowed her to create highly individual metres and rhymes. ʻThereʼs a Certain Slant to light’ also demonstrates an exquisite use of sound devices that are matched by disjunctive grammar and intricate levels of poetic diction.
As with nearly every poem by Dickinson on the course, this poem embodies a variation hymnal metre. Growing up with volumes of Isaac Wattʼs hymns in her home, Dickinson adapted homiletic lyric conventions to her own use. Here the poet employs alternating lines of seven and five syllables where tetrameters are followed by trimeters.
Trochees are metric units of two syllables, where the first syllable is stressed and the second is left unstressed. In the poem, Dickinson arranges these in much the same manner as one would expect of a church hymn. If we look at the first two lines of this poem, we can see how intricate the metrical arrangement is: Thereʼs a certain Slant of light, Winter Afternoons. The odd foot (metric unit) of each line ends in a monometer (a metric unit with only one stressed syllable). While the poem is not entirely arranged in this fashion, there are enough instances of this metrical pattern to force the reader to recognize the association with church hymns. Of course, this is most interesting given the fact that heaven is associated with ʻDespairʼ and ʻafflictionʼ.
In a very real sense, the poet is using the form and metre of religious devotional hymns to undermine their message. Some critics, including the poet Adrienne Rich, feel that this subversion of prevailing attitudes is best exemplified in Dickinsonʼs unusual and thought-provoking metaphors. Given the prevailing orthodoxy of the day, Rich argues that Dickinson was forced to ʻretranslate her own unorthodox, subversive, sometimes volcanic propensities into a dialect called metaphor: her native language. Dickinsonʼs metaphors expressed all her emotions in her unique manner.ʼ
Furthermore, Dickinson relies heavily on both exact rhyme and slant rhyme. In her poetry, Dickinson frequently employs slant rhyme or near rhyme when she wishes to disparage a traditional value or idea. Notice how the poet uses exact rhyme in the first and third lines of each quatrain (ʻlightʼ rhymes with ʻHeftʼ, ʻusʼ half rhymes with ʻdifferenceʼ and ʻlistensʼ with ʻDistanceʼ), whereas she relies on the more conventional exact rhyme to end the second and fourth lines (ʻAfternoonsʼ/ ʻTunesʼ, ʻscarʼ/ʻareʼ, ʻDespairʼ /ʻAirʼ and ʻbreathʼ/ʻDeathʼ). The poem provides us with many other examples of Dickinsonʼs style. In particular, capitalized words and dashes are used to end most of the lines.
Capitalized words emphasize the importance of key ideas within the poem. The dashes that punctuate nearly every line of ʻThereʼs a certain Slant of lightʼ not only accentuate the rhythm of the poem but also provide the reader with a sense of openness and ambiguity not afforded by the fullstop.Perhaps the most obvious‒yet also the most difffull stop categorise is Dickinsonʼs unusual use of pathetic fallacy. As the boundaries between the inner and external worlds become weakened, the poetʼs emotions are reflected by the landscape. When Dickinson uses nature imagery in this way, she is appropriating it, as Joanne Feit Diehl says, for the ʻaggrandizement of the mindʼ. In this sense, Feit Diehl goes on to point out that the natural phenomenon ʻbecomes the self as the division between identity and the scene described asdissolvesʼ. The poem also employs personification, alliteration, assonance and sibilant ʻsʼ sounds to convey the sense of menacing dread that this light induces. It is also possible to view this poem as challenging the concept of a Christian God as a benevolent force in the world. Most critics agree that while the poem does not mention God,it nevertheless undercuts Godʼs supreme authority.
Even as early as her time at the evangelical Mount Holyoke Seminary, Dickinson saw herself as an outsider resisting and challenging the religious revivals of her time.
How lonely this world is growing, something so desolate and creeps over the spirit and we don’t know it’s [sic] name, and it won’t go away, either Heaven is seeming greater, or Earth a great deal more small, or God is more ‘Our Father,’ and we feel our need increased. Christ is calling everyone here, all my companions have answered […] I can’t tell you what they have found, but they think it is something precious. I wonder if it is? How strange is this sanctification, that works such a marvellous change, that shows in such corruption and rises in golden glory, that brings Christ down, and shews him, and lets him select his friends!

Comprehension Questions

1 Explain the terms:
(i) slant of light
(ii) cathedral tunes
(iii) Heavenly hurt
(iv) imperial affliction
Slant of Light: It is a light that is likened to the oppressive sound of church bells, and it causes ʻHeavenly Hurtʼ.
Cathedral tunes: These are sad notes of music from the High Mass in a cathedral.
The weighty sounds of a cathedral carillon convey to the reader the full burden of the speakerʼs despair. The use of the word ʻHeftʼ complicates the simile even further by suggesting not only the metaphorical weight of this winter light but also a the tactile sense of the oppression that it engenders.

Heavenly hurt: The word ‘heavenly’ suggests that the winter light is symbolic of God. it acts as the agent of God to inflict pain.
Imperial affliction: It is like the ‘heavenly hurt’. when it comes the landscape shudders with fear, and shadow suspends their breath. When it goes, it makes little difference. it still leaves the marks of death. It is something that causes the ʻLandscapeʼ to listen and the ʻShadowsʼ to ʻhold their breathʼ
2. Why does the poet think that ‘winter’ and “afternoon” stand for death?
Answer: The slantness in the light of winter and afternoons oppresses the speaker like the grave and heavy cathedral tunes.
3. What is the impact of the cathedral tunes on the poet?
Answer: The weighty sounds of a cathedral carillon convey to the reader the full burden of the speakerʼs despair. The use of the word ʻHeftʼ complicates the simile even further by suggesting not only the metaphorical weight of this winter light but also a tactile sense of the oppression that it engenders.
4. What sort of hurt is caused by nature?

5. How does the poet associate God with human sufferings?

6 How do the landscape and shadows react in the presence of Death?

7 Describe the theme of death as presented by Emily Dickinson in “There’s A Certain Slant of Light”.
Answer: Refer to Summary

THE TREES BY PHILIP LARKIN: Summary and Questions 10

THE TREES BY PHILIP LARKIN: Summary and Questions


Introduction: We all know that Nature is a great teacher. Human life repeats many aspects of nature. The cyclic pattern of life in nature is reflected in human life also. This poem takes a philosophical look at nature and life. What is the general tone of the poem? Is it grief or a kind of acceptance? What lesson about life does this poem give us?
Read the poem very carefully and try to understand it on your own before seeking the help of the notes given below.

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain

Yet still, the unresting castles thresh.
In full-grown thickness every May,
Last year is dead, they seem to say, Begin afresh, afresh, afresh

The trees by Philip Larkin

About the Author: Philip Larkin (1922—1985), is the most significant poet of Britain in the post-second World War period. He is an urban poet writing in a very simple style. A lonely observer of events and things around him, he rejected any idealized image of life.

You must have read the poem now, what does it communicate to you? You would have found certain words and expressions difficult. It is only natural. To have a more complete understanding of the poem, refer to the stanza wise meanings and explanations given below.

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Meanings and Explanations

Lines 1-4

Coming into leaf: An idiomatic way of describing fresh leaves appearing on a tree.
Like something… said: The poet uses a curious example to describe the growth of new leaves. He compares it to someone about to say something. The fresh leaves are the message. (This comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as’ called a simile.)
recent: not long ago
bud: a flower or leaf that is not yet fully open. (Here it is a leaf bud)
The recent buds relax and spread: The opening and spreading of closed leaf buds into leaves imaginatively referred to as a relaxing. The buds described as if they are human and enjoying good leisure.
grief: sorrow
Their greenness …… grief: This line gives a shock. The new life of the buds (suggest by their “greenness”) also reminds the poet of death (suggested by the word “grief” ). The explanation of this contradictory meaning (paradox) is offered in the next stanza

The poet describes the coming of new life in nature during the spring season. The buds grow into leaves. This greening of nature is referred to in negative terms as an event bringing sorrow.

What is the link between new life and sorrow? Think about it.

Line 5-8

grain: pattern made by the lines of fibres in wood.

The poet asks the question whether trees are different from human beings because the trees can continuously renew themselves by growing fresh leaves, whereas human beings grow old only to die. He answers saying that it is not so. Although new leaves appear on the tree every year, this happens after the tree sheds old leaves. Hence with every year the tree ages. Therefore, the aging process of the tree can be measured by counting the number of rings on the trunk. This is commonly called as the grain of the wood. Thus the tree only seems to remain fresh. He, therefore, calls it a “trick” in line 7. How is the aging of a tree different from the aging of human beings?

THE TREES BY PHILIP LARKIN: Summary and Questions 11

Line 9-12

Unresting: continuous movement of the leaves caused by the wind. The tree never rests because it is constantly renewing itself.

Castles: large fortified (strengthened against attack) buildings. Here the trees are referred to as castles. Why? The castle is a metaphor for tree. This use of language is metaphorical.

Thresh: separate the grain from its husk by beating the grain-bearing bundle of plants over a surface. Here it points to violent movement.
May: spring season
Last year ……… afresh: shows how the trees renew life every year.

The poet, however, comes to accept the fact that life in nature can begin afresh every year, whereas man as an individual must grow old and die. May is the month when trees are full of leaves and flowers. The continuously renewing trees (“castles”) sway violent (“thresh”) in the wind. The poet may have used the term “‘thresh” because of the way thickly growing trees in a forest rub against each other strongly. The rich covering of tree is compared to lofty castles. What do castles and trees have in common? For one, they are both tall and strong. Secondly, both suggest something regal (royal or majestic). Third, they can have an association with old times or the distant past. The trees seem, to the imaginative mind of poet, to convey the message of cyclicity and renewal as it says “being afresh”.
Do you now have a better understanding of the poem? Let us now try to answer the questions on the poem, shall we?

THE TREES BY PHILIP LARKIN: Summary and Questions 12

Comprehension Short Answer Questions :

1. What phrase does the poet use to describe the appearance of fresh leaves on the tree?
Ans. The poet uses the expression “coming into leaf”
2. What is simile ‘?

Ans. A simile is a way of expressing something in which a thing is described by comparing it with something else usually using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’ as in the example, ‘eyes sparkling like diamonds.’

3. What simile does the poet use to describe the emergence of leaves on trees?
Ans. According to the poet, the leaves appear “like something almost bein said”.
4. Why does the poet use the adjective “recent” to describe buds?
Ans. The adjective “recent” is used to suggest the quick change from leaf bud to leaf.
5. How do the leaf buds transform into leaves?

Ans. The leaf buds “relax and spread” into leaves
6. Why does the “greenness” of the leaves bring about grief?
Ans. The “greenness” of the new leaves also remind the poet of the passing of time and aging implied in each renewal of life.
7. Don’t the trees grow old?
Ans. Yes, they do even though they seem to get a new life every year, they are in fact. growing old.
8. What is the “yearly thick” the trees play on us?
Ans. The trees fool us into thinking that they are born again every year.
9. How do the trees show their age?
Ans. The number of rings of grain on the trunk of trees give away their age.
10. What is the metaphor used to describe the trees?
Ans. The trees are metaphorically described as castles
11. What is a metaphor?
Ans. A metaphor is an expression in which a person action or thing is described as if it really were what it merely resembles.
12. What is the difference between a Simile and Metaphor?
Ans. A Simile says that one thing is like another. A metaphor says that one thing is the other,
E.g. a) My love is like a red red rose. (Simile)
b) My love is a red red rose (Metaphor)

13. What do trees and castles have in common?
Ans. Both trees and castles are tall and strong, majestic-looking and old.
14. Why are the trees referred to as “unresting”?
Ans. The constant movement of the trees due to the wind makes the poet refer to them as “unresting”
15. What does May signify?
Ans. May is springtime When the trees become covered fully with leaves and branches after winter When they are bare
16. What is the message of trees to man?
Ans. The constantly renewing trees seem to tell us to begin afresh as the previous year is dead and gone.

Paragraph Questions and Answers.

1. What does the poet say about trees?
Ans. The poet describes the way trees come to life every year during the spring season. The emptiness of the winter season is transformed as the trees break out into leaves and flowers. The leaf- buds relax and spread out to become big leaves. This greening of the trees brings sorrow because it is a reminder of passing time and aging. Every year there is a renewal of life, at the same time the tree ages and this is recorded in the rings of grain. During the month of May, the trees appear in full growth

2. How does the poet treat the theme of the passage of time?
Ans. Every object in nature submits to change as time passes. In the case of the trees, their change is cyclic and the pattern of change is repeated every year. The spring season finds the trees renewing themselves. New leaves appear and spread greenness. This renewal of life is a rebirth. This does not mean that they do not age, every year the trees look new but this is the only a trick. They also age and this is recorded in the rings of grain. Nature, thus shows us how life and death are close to each other, almost continuous.
3. Examine the poet’s attitude to nature and how he uses it to reflect on life.
Ans. The poem “The Trees” looks at a very common feature in nature-how the trees shed old leaves while new leaves are forever appearing again. This “yearly trick” of looking new hides the fact the trees also grew old The age of trees is recorded in the rings of grain on the tree trunks. Thus, the greenness of the trees brings to mind sorrow as it points to change and aging. This pattern of cyclicity of life and death can be seen in life too. To the poet, this feature in nature suggests how life and death are continuous. Nature serves to show us this fact.

Epic Poetry: Some Features and Examples 13

Epic Poetry: Some Features and Examples

Epic Poetry Some Features and Examples

An Introduction To Epic

An epic also called heroic poem is a verse narrative usually long which deals with a serious subject. It is told in a formal and elevated style. It is centred on heroic or quasi-divine figures on whose action depends the fate of a tribe, a nation or the entire human race as in the instance of John Milton’s The Paradise Lost. Epics maybe traditional or literary.Traditional epics are called folk epics. The traditional epics were the written version of oral poems about a tribal or national hero during a warlike age. Among these are the Iliad and

Odessey that are attributed to Homer, the Greek poet. Literary epics were composed in deliberate imitation of the traditional epics. Virgil’s Latin poem the Aeneid is of this kind.

This epic later served as a model for Milton’s Paradise Lost.

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Some features of epics

The hero of an epic is a figure of great national importance. In the Iliad, the hero is the Greek warrior Achilles, who is the son of the sea nymph Thetis, and Virgil’s Aeneas is the son of the goddesses Aphrodite.

The setting of the poem is ample in scale and may be worldwide or even larger.

Odysseus wanders over the Mediterranean basin and in Book XI he descends into the underworlds as does Virgil’s Aeneas.

The action involves superhuman deeds in battle such as Achilles’ feats in the Trojan War, or a long, ordous and dangerous journey such as the wanderings of Odysseus on his way back to his homeland in the face of opposition by some of the gods.

In the great actions, the gods and other supernatural beings take an interest or an active part. The Olympian gods in Homer is an instance.

An epic poem is a ceremonial performance, and is narrated in a ceremonial style which is deliberately distanced from the ordinary speech and proportioned to the grandeur and formality of the heroic subject.

The Epic Conventions

The narrator starts by stating his argument for epic theme, invokes a muse or guiding spirit to inspire him in his great undertaking.
The narrative begins in media-res or in the middle of the story. There are catalogs of some of the main characters introduced in a formal detail The term epic is often applied to narratives that differ from this model in many respects but manifest the epic spirit and grandeur in the scale, scope and profound human significance of their subject. In this broad sense Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and Edmund Spencer’s “The Fairie Queene” are often called epics.

Summary and Questions of When Autumn Came 14

Summary and Questions of When Autumn Came


The different seasons of the year have also been favourite subjects of literary and artistic expression. Each season comes with its own charm and beauty. For many, Spring, with its lengthening days and reappearance of gentle greens, is the most beautiful season of the year; the long, warm days of Summer appeal to others; the bright oranges and browns and reds of Autumn bring delight to some; and the short, cold days of winter with its snow and wood fires bring a sense of comfort and rest to many. In an unusual take on autumn, the poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, portrays the season as a time of harsh cruelty and violent death. Autumn is symbolized as a period of misery and loss.

Summary and Questions of When Autumn Came 15

Lines 1-7

This is the way……….a single moan of protest.

In these lines, the poet shows autumn making its appearance as a harsh, aggressive person, who uses violence and force to strip the leaves off the branches of the trees. The leaves of the trees turn from green to yellow with the onset of autumn, and one by one fall to the ground below. (That is why this season is also referred to as “Fall” in America.) In these lines, the poet compares the bare trunks of the trees to the black slaves of Africa, who have had a long, tragic history of oppression and slavery, being enslaved for centuries by various civilisations, like the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, etc, till the early half of the previous century by the European colonists and the white Americans. (Ebony is a type of tree, unique to Africa, which is of a rich, intense black colour.) The yellowing leaves of the trees are like the hearts of these black slaves, being shaken and tortured by the slave-drivers and owners, as they are led off bound and chained, mute and silent in their suffering. Thus, autumn is depicted as a cruel, heartless oppressor bringing suffering and violence with him.

Summary and Questions of When Autumn Came 16

  • Trample=crush under ones feet
  • Moan= a soft sound of pain

Lines 8-12

The birds that herald…………….. strung his bow.

As days become colder and shorter, many birds start their migration to warmer lands and, thus, one can no longer hear the sweet songs of these birds during the autumn months. However, the poet, continuing with the theme of violence and cruelty, paints a vivid, moving picture of a heartless person brutally ripping out the voices (the vocal cords) of the birds from their throats, so that the birds drop dead to the ground. Even though the birds had been exiled, (or separated, from their songs), the person seems to perform this mindless act of cruelty, not giving them the chance or time to leave the land.

Lines 13-18

Oh, God of May………………..Let one bird sing.

Resurrection means to rise from the dead; in other words, to come back to life. In the given lines, the poet now appeals to the more merciful God or authority of the month of May to infuse or inject new life into the dried out, shrunken bodies of the birds and the trees, so that they too could come back to life. The seasons of the year symbolise the cycle of life and death, of regeneration, of continuity. The months of April and May are the time of new growth, of renewal.


From our reading of When Autumn Came, it seems obvious that the season of autumn is a gloomy, dismal (depressing) time of the year for the poet. He sees it as a season that brings an end (and that too a violent and cruel end), to natural things like the trees and the birds. The shedding of leaves and the migration of birds to warmer lands, are portrayed in a very bleak and dark picture of untimely death at the hands of a brutal, vicious oppressor. He even ends on a pessimistic note, almost begging the God of May to give new life to at least one tree and one bird, as if he’s not certain his heartfelt plea/prayer will be answered.

Summary and Questions of When Autumn Came 17

Check Your Progress

1). Why does the poet say anyone could trample the fallen leaves out of shape?
(Trample=crush under ones feet).

2). Why do you think they do not utter a single moan of suffering or protest? (Moan= a soft sound of pain)

(Hint: – leaves that are still yellow and have not yet turned dry and brown, are……..?). 3). Which words in these lines indicate use of violence and force?

3. A herald is a messenger, bringing news of something or someone that is to come. So, why do you think the birds are referred to as heralds in these lines? What dreams do they bring?

5. Autumn has already caused the death of the birds, in the above lines. However, a hunter, who was yet to come, was getting ready to string his own bow in order to kill these birds. Who or What do you think has been personified as the hunter in these lines? (Harsher even than Autumn!)

6. What appeal does the poet make to the God of May? Why do you think he appeals to the God of May and not to the God of some other month? 2. Read the last two lines of the poem. How hopeful does the poet seem to be that his prayer will be answered? What is the significance of the words ‘some’ and ‘one’ in these lines?

Solved Questions of When Autumn Came

Q. 1 The autumn season is characterized by few things. What are they?
Ans. Ripening of fruits, harvesting, falling of leaves from the trees, cooling of weather are the distinct features of the autumn season.

Q. 2 Does the poet talks about all those characteristics?
Ans. The poet does not talk about all those characteristics. He only talks about the falling of leaves from the trees.

Q. 3 What is the impact of autumn on the trees?
Ans. The autumn snatches the trees from their leaves and makes them naked.

Q. 4 What happens to the birds when autumn comes?
Ans. Birds are exiled from their own nests and deprived of their singing when autumn comes.

Q. 5 Why does the poet invoke the God of May?
Ans. The poet invokes the God of May so that the naked trees and exiled birds will bloom again with their pristine glory.

Reference to the Context

1.It shook out……. moon of protest.

a) Who is ‘it’. Whose yellow heart did it shake?
Ans. ‘It’ stands for the autumn season. It shook out yellow hearts of the trees by making their leaves fall on the ground.
b) What happens to the leaves that are scattered on the ground?
Ans. The leaves that are scattered on the ground get trampled by the people.
c) When will these withered trees bloom again?
Ans. These withered trees will again in spring season.

2. Give some trees…….. Let bird sing.

a) What is the gift of green? Who will receive it?
Ans. The gift of green refers to green leaves. The trees will receive it.

b) What is the poet asking for when he says let one bird sing?
Ans. The poet is asking for the arrival of the spring so that the trees will be restored with the green leaves and the birds will resume their singing.

c) What had happened to the birds in autumn?
Ans. The birds have been exiled from their nests and single.

Our Village Poem


Our Village by Prof. Rehman Rahi

Soun Gaam (Our Village) by Rehman Rahi

A hard-hitting sarcastic sonnet, ‘Soun Gaam’ depicts the way of life of Kashmir in the entirety of its contradictions. It was written by the prominent Kashmiri artist Rehman Rahi in 1995.

Our village is better off as a village; call it not a city
It receives sap from deen-dharma; make it not thirsty

Even a dove from round here invokes God, hark!
And Qur’an is recited by our every swift and lark

Jhelum’s water itself is pure, why shouldn’t it clean us?
Why lose minds over Vetsar Naag’s growing murkiness?

Only upon seeing a tigress does learn to run a doe
Partook it of God’s sustenance, if eats worms a hoopoe

Today also I tie votive rags at Tsrar, why not come over
Today also here from heavens descends a golden shower

Appear the billboards where, let’s look and, as instructed, love
Ooze hands poison whose, why ponder pointlessly over above

Our own children they are, counsel them and they’ll turn gold
Our own nation this is, fill the crossroads and make them roar bold

Should we be leaving Rahim Uncle standing with a gun?
Meanwhile, let our brother Makhan bask in the Delhi sun

That you didn’t let on to your wife a secret, it is your goodness
That you broke your promise to me, I take it was in duress

Verily, your mind have been scalded by envious neighbours
The ones I earned my profits from, though, were foreigners

I practiced parsimony and started increasing the nation’s prosperity
You picked pockets and acquire will new weapons the army

Qur’an I’ve heard as well, but I’ve got to place on market my daughter
Throw a recitation party too I will, if successful is my charas venture

This village of ours is free, shrewd people here inhabit
I have never lent a loan to anyone, go and endure it

I did not cast my vote, the elders of my locality were eyeing me
The haggard hag’s opinion got broadcast, didn’t it hearten thee?

This farmer friend diverts the village canal for his urgent use
This travelling trader sells woollen shawls as authentic shahtoos

Eating and drinking too only us, living and dying too we only
Playing and prancing too only us, laughing and weeping too we only

It is here I saw in a garden Shakti in embrace of Shiva held
It is here in tightly draped rooms that blue films are beheld

Tourists will be camping there, if this saw goes to the jungle
And if your eyes are irritated, it is I who is burning diesel

In the bedroom itself, on a worldwide tour the TV takes me
You cool yourself at the river bank, fetches you the news BBC

Bombs may burst in the Gulf, why should we increase the bus fare?
Let Germans launch missiles, we’ll take a boat to Nishat from here

This is the land of rishis, from every corner are expected offerings
Bedlam is unleashed when a dervish releases from his chilum smoke rings

Elderly men here and they with every breath lofty ideals uphold
Young men here and they set a price for conscience with every word

Mind alert, the cat is poised to a meal of the rat make
Pure of words, they say on oath the tongs are a snake

If we believe them, they will dub us fools from a place outlandish
If we expose them, they will our love affairs in newspapers publish

The multitude masses that never had any use for identity
The political parties that never spoke any language consistently

We nurture faith, to whatever rises like a sun we offer our prayer
As you only have a fire in the belly, you only be our leader

Our mountains are as old as time, our temperament is the oldest
Our tradition is of the rishis, our trika philosophy too is the greatest

This is a gathering place, lo! The whole village here has come
Shout a few slogans, will you, why recite a meaningless poem?

Sitting here you are in Kashmir, but you are talking American
An ancient pheran you wear on you, don’t claim to be modern!

Our Village by Prof. Rehman Rahi

Our Village Poem 18

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