ONE ART – Critical Appreciation of the Poem & Exercises

ONE ART – (Elizabeth Bishop)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM
OR
Is this poem a true philosophy of life?

‘One Art’ is a lightly satirical poem, expressing an important idea in a humorous manner. The poetess has discussed the question of peace and happiness in human life and need healthy attitude to attain it. She suggests that it is a loss of things which disturbs us. We should not feel sad at this. We should bear the loss costly as well as ordinary things with a brave heart. There are several things which have a tendency to get lost or misplaced. Their disappearance should not perturb us. In order to be skillful in the art of losing, we must lose something daily. ‘Lose something every day’, is a sane advice on the part of poetess. We should not feel restless at the loss or door keys or the loss of time ‘badly spent’. These small losses will prepare us to face the heavy disasters of life. The tone of the poetess is here humorous but it contains a word of wisdom of us.

The poetess suggests that we should go on losing things faster and rapidly. ‘Then practice losing faster’ can make us perfect in the art of losing. We must try to forget the name of places and people we have seen. This will dispel our fear of facing losses. The poetess happens to lose her mother’s watch. She forgets the name of three houses where she has stayed and lived. She makes the names of a continent slip out of her memory. The forgetfulness of such important things does not bring ruin to her.

She is not perturbed about the loss of her love, loving voices and happy gestures. She bears all these losses with courage because she has become skillful in the art of losing things.

This poem is written in a mocking and half humorous manner. The poetess treats a serious subject in a non-serious and frivolous manner. But the message of the poem is clear. Man should not lose heart of face of hardships. He should produce in him a spirit of acceptance and resignation. The loss of door keys or loss of an empire should be accepted with smile on our face. It is only in this way that the defeat loses its bitterness and we form a healthy attitude to fact he odds of life. The ordinary tragic incident and the greatest disaster should be faced with out any fears. The art of losing means to live life with out making complains. It means to live life hoping for the best and to be ready to face the worst.

EXERCISE

The poetess has used the elements of satire, humor and irony. How are they combined?

Satire is a work of literature, theater and speaking etc. intended to show the selfishness or evil of some establishment of practice in an amusing manner. The poem is a satire on the selfishness of those people who consider themselves wise not to lose anything. The poetess points out that every one of us loses his time, friend, money and precious things but does not admit it. He considers other people fool for losing such things but does not hold enough to confess this.

Humor is the ability to amuse other. The aim of the humorist is to delight the people by pointing out the follies of others. When we learn that the poetess has lost many things, we cannot but smile at it. She describes in an amusing manner the things she has lost in her life. She remarks in a funny manner that she lost her mother watch. Then she lost a house. She remark in a funny manner that she does not remember whether it was her second or third house, which she lost. Then she goes on to say that she lost two cities both of which were beautiful. We can simply laugh at such a person who learns the art of losing things by practice.

Irony is a mode of speech in which the meaning is contrary to the word. The poetess points out in the poem ‘the art of losing is not hard to master’. By these words she means to say that the art of losing things is very difficult. It is very difficult to remain contented and resigned to fate. It is not easy to lose one’s friend, one’s beloved, and one’s kingdom with out feeling undisturbed. But in an ironic manner the poetess tells us that the art of losing things is not difficult.

CREATIVE EXERCISES

1. Which of the list of lost things in the poem is most difficult to lose and why? Write in 60 words.
2. Do you find any element of fear in the poem? Write you own assessment in 60 words.
Quotations and references for this poem
1) Life is not a bed or roses.
2) Failures are the pillar of success.
3) Do not yield to misfortunes, but met them with fortitude.

THE SOLITARY REAPER – Critical Appreciation of the Poem

THE SOLITARY REAPER – (William Wordsworth)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM
OR
‘The Solitary Reaper’ as a romantic poem
OR
Do you think that Wordsworth’s poetry deals with common people?

‘The Solitary Reaper’ is one of the finest lyrics of Wordsworth. It is one of the top ten best poems of the English poetry. It is a romantic poem in its nature. Wordsworth’s poetry deals with the problems of common people. His poems have farmers, workers, cottage dwellers, fishermen, and leech gatherers as their main characters. The Highland girl is also a common girl, who is innocent and lovely in her charms.

She is a rustic in her manners. The poem is an exquisite lyric by Wordsworth. It strikes a new romantic note. In it subject matter as well as in its style, it presents a sharp contrast to poetry of the 18th century. The romanticism of the poem is evident from the following points.

In the first place, it strikes a democratic note. Secondly, the poem is written in a simple and direct manner. It has nothing to do with the mannerisms of the 18th century. Thirdly, the poet treats the solitary reaper as an object of beauty, pleasure and mystery found every where in the world of nature. Romantic poetry does not deal with the subject matter only.

But it is the novel and interesting way which makes the subject matter romantic and attractive. The beautiful song of the girl lingers in the imagination of the poet for a long time. Memory plays an important part in the romanticism of Wordsworth’s poetry. Fourthly, the chief merits of the poem are its lyricism, pictorial quality, its romantic atmosphere, and sad sentiments. It combines in it all the elements of romantic school of poetry. There are for example the following lines which have a distinctly romantic note.

‘Far old, unhappy, far off thins and battles long ago.’

Then there are references to the distant lands. The poet appreciates the sweetness of the girl’s songs and takes us to the romantic lands like Arabia and Hebrides. The poem is written in a simple and direct language. Apart from its simplicity, the poem is rich in musical quality.

CREATIVE EXERCISES

1. Give your impression of Wordsworth as a port of Nature with reference to this poem.
2. Write a note on the theme of the song of the girl.
3. Why are the Cuckoo bird and Nightingale compared with the song of the girl?
Quotations and references for this poem

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE – Critical Appreciation of the Poem

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE – (William Shakespeare)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM

In the present poem Shakespeare compares the entire world to a theatrical stage, where all the human beings perform their allotted role given by the God. Every individual has to go through seven acts that are seven stages of man’s life.

In the first stage of his life man appears as child in the world. As a child, he is helpless creature. He cries in the arms of his nurse for one reason or the other. He cries and vomits.

In the second stage of his life man appears as a child in the world. He goes to school with a bag hanging round his shoulder. He goes to the school creeping like a snail. He marches to the school unwillingly.

In the third stage of his life, man plays the part of lover. He grows into a young man full of desires, ambitions and dreams. He becomes a romantic young man. He falls in love and sights like a furnace. He begins to write sad poems to his beloved he cannot control his sad feelings.

In the forth stage of his life man becomes a foul mouthed soldier who has learnt queer words at this stage, he tries to give himself a formidable look with a beard like a pard. He is emotional and jealous. He quarrels with others for his honor and grace. He hankers after temporary and bubble fame.

In the fifth stage of his life, he becomes a judge. He becomes mature and experienced in his thoughts. The heat of youth has completely cooled down and he becomes very realistic. He wishes to grab wealth by foul or fair means. He begins to accept bribe and thus adds much to his material comforts. He becomes ease loving and therefore becomes fat. His belly becomes round. He eats healthy fowls and chicken presented to him as a bribe. His eyes become severe and he grows beard of formal cut.

In the sixth stage of his life, man grows old. He looks quite ridiculous in his movements. He wears glasses because his eyesight is weak. His shoes becomes wide for his feet. His voice suffers a change. It becomes a shrill and quivering whistle.

In the final stage, man turn into a child once again. He seems to forget every thing. He becomes ‘toothless’. His eyesight is weakened and he is deprived of taste. He is ready to leave this world.

Shakespeare has the seven stages of man’s life with a touch of satire and cynicism. In each stage, man imagines himself great and important, but there is something ridiculous in his behavior all through his life. Shakespeare has described each of the man’s life stage with great economy of words. He uses living and concrete images to describe the different stages of life. The use of the word ‘mewling’ of the infant’s cry and the school boy’s reluctance for going to school described in phases ‘creeping like a snail’ are examples of living images.

CREATIVE EXERCISES

1. Which of the seven stages described by Shakespeare do you like most and why? Write in 100 words.
2. Compare old age with child hood. Also write similar traits between these two stages.
3. Do you think that this world is stage? (It means there is no concept of free will)
4. Do you think that the lovers are the same even after passing few centuries?
5. It seems that Shakespeare is against soldiers. How?

DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL – Critical Appriciation of the Poem

DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL – (T. S. Eliot)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM
OR
Write a note on optimism of T. S. Eliot
OR
What are the views of T. S. Eliot on hoe and struggle in this poem?

This poem builds our faith in the power of struggle. It is only through struggle and hard work that we can leave a better future to the coming generations. In his view, we stand upon the shore and we linger for a moment doubtfully. After some hesitation, we set sail on the sea of life. We are unaware of the deep waters of the sea. We do not know about the dangerous rocks hidden in the water. We are without a map. There is no one to make us unaware about the angers of the sea, but we accept the challenges bravely.

The poet further develops the arguments and urges us to speed up our struggle to attain the ideal of life. He says that our path of life may be ‘torturous and slow’. It may ‘bristle with a thousand fears’. It may pose serious threats. But for a young man, it is still tempting and thrilling. He accepts the challenges of life bravely. To him ‘life appears to be a lane by which, the thorn and hawthorn grow’. The future looks bright and rosy to a person who marches through the path of life with conviction and struggle.

Being a poet of idealism and path, T. S. Eliot urges us to double our efforts to attain our goal in the 20th century. In his view 20th century has to offer us more and better opportunities than the previous ages. Modern age offers us better prospects for onward march. Our age invites us to explore new fields and new ideals in life. Our distant years may bring to us new heroes greater than the old ones. Who knows that man may over come ‘pain and misery’ and finish it for ever.

This bright future that lies ahead of mankind can only be achieved by means of hard work and labor. We shall have to work hard to make the present age better than all the previous ages. It is, with eager heart we can ‘help mould well’ the fate of his century. We should leave a ‘legacy of benefits’ and bright future to the coming generations. The poet asks the young men to sent high ideals before them and ‘labor for the good’ till death. Only the courageous and Nobel deeps will be remembered by the future generation. The struggle to make this world better place according to our lights is rewording in itself.

This is a great poem of faith, hope and optimism. The poet is of the view that high ideals can only be achieved with courage and fortitude. He urges us to set high goals and strive undauntedly for their fulfillment. We must be guided by vision and faith. Nations and individuals wither away without faith and vision.

EXERCISE

The poet in this poem has used a metaphor of human life as a voyage. Discuss.

The poet has used a metaphor of voyage for human life in this world.

According to him, man’s stay in this world is temporary. He comes in this world for a short time. After doing his duty, he is ready to journey to the world of eternity. During his stay in this world, he sets sail on the ‘ocean of time’. He has a mission to perform.

This bright future that lies ahead of mankind can only be achieved by means of hard work and labor. We shall have to work hard to make the present age better than all the previous ages. It is, with eager heart we can ‘help mould well’ the fate of his century. We should leave a ‘legacy of benefits’ and bright future to the coming generations. The poet asks the young men to sent high ideas before them and ‘labor for the good’ till death. Only the courageous and Nobel deeps will be remembered by the future generation. The struggle to make this world better place according to our lights is rewording in itself.

This is a great poem of faith, hope and optimism. The poet is of the view that high ideals can only be achieved with courage and fortitude. He urges us to set high goals and strive undauntedly for their fulfillment. We must be guided by vision and faith. Nations and individuals wither away without faith and vision.

Wordsworth has defined poetry as ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’. Do you find this quality in T. S. Eliot’s poetry?

Wordsworth has defined poetry as a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It means that poetry is the outcome of our personal feelings and emotions. It is a matter of mood and inspiration. It flows from the internal feelings of he poet. When the poetic mood is in on the poet, he sings out his sorrows, joys and fears all of sudden. Poetry cannot be composed under pressure. It takes its birth in heart and not in intellect.

When we study this poem we can say that the theory of Wordsworth regarding poetry cannot be applied to this poem. This poem by T. S. Eliot is highly reflective and thought provoking. It is an intellectual type of poem. It is burdened with a moral message. It seems to be the product of poet’s intellect. It is not spontaneous overflow of feelings. Moreover, T. S. Eliot is a classical poet and he believes in polished verses. Wordsworth is a romantic poet and he stands for poetry of emotions and feelings, T. S. Eliot plans before versification. He presents sublime thoughts in his poems.

CREATIVE EXERCISES

1. Why does the poet give much importance to the 20th century?
Quotations and references for this poem
1) “Not gold, but men can make a nation great and strong.
2) To him nothing is possible who is always dreaming of his past possibilities.

A POISON TREE – Critial Appriciation of the Poem & Exercises

A POISON TREE – (William Blake)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM
OR
What does moral lesson William Blake want to convey through this poem?

Generally William Blake in his poetry aims at giving the message of selfless love and universal brotherhood of mankind. According to him, life must be guided by vision instead of reason. It is the force of vision and imagination which restores balance and order in life. The soul of man is corrupted by evil passions of anger, hatred, and malice. If we conquer these evil poisons, we can create a happy and wonderland of bliss for us. The poet advises the readers not to nourish the anger and hatred against our friends and foes. He preaches love against hatred, trust against misunderstanding.

The moral of the poem is illustrated through a parable. The poet was angry with his friend. It was the result of some misunderstanding. He talked to his friend about his anger and the misunderstanding between them was over soon. It was discussion about the misunderstanding which destroyed anger. The poet points out that it is always good and desirable to discuss the cause of misunderstanding. We should not let our anger pile up and lead it to enmity. The poet was angry with his foe. He did not discuss the cause of anger with him. The anger continued to grow.

The poet did another folly. He did not give vent to his anger, but continued to nourish it with fear, suspicion and doubt. He met his friend with a smile on his face, but inwardly he was with him. He was soft and gentle with him outwardly, but inwardly he nourished hatred against him. In this way, his behavior towards him was marked with hypocrisy.

The poet kept on watering the plant of anger with hatred and suspicion. Soon it grew into a tree. The tree ‘bore an apple bright’ of hatred. The brightness of the apple attracted his enemy and stole it in the darkness of night. In the morning, he found that his enemy was dead.

The poem suggests the hidden meaning quite clearly. If anger is suppressed and kept secret for a long time, it gives birth to poisonous tree. Hatred is not a passion to be desired by any one. It is hatred which breeds hatred in turn. The poet’s enemy was the victim of hatred. The enemy too hated the poet. This mutual hatred resulted into the destruction of the poet’s enemy.

EXERCISE

Bring out the symbolism of the poem.
OR
Comment on the title of the poem. Do you think it appropriate?
OR
This poem is a psychological analysis of a spiteful person and his revengeful attitude. Explain.

The poem is full of symbolical interpretations. The poem moves round a tree which has been introduced by hatred, fear and suspicion. The poet uses the symbol of plant growing into tree. He has used the legend of Adam and Eve living in paradise and falling of prey to the temptations of eating the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve found the forbidden fruit ‘charming’ and fell prey to it. In the present poem the poet tells us that he felt angry with a man whom he considered his enemy. But he did not communicate his hatred to that man, in this way the plant of anger in his heart continued growing till it became a full fledged tree of hatred and enmity.

He continued watering it with his fears. His apparent civility served as sun shine for the growth of this tree. At last the free born an apple bright which looked sweet outwardly but was very poisonous in reality. The supposed enemy was tempted to eat it. He entered the garden under the cover of darkness to steal that apple. But he fell dead after that. Furthermore the act of theft is committed at night…….the time of darkness is associated with evil.

CREATIVE EXERCISES
1. Describe your own incident of intense anger, its reason, and how did you over come it?
2. Write a note on the importance of communication in common life.
Quotations and references for this poem
1) “Look like the innocent flower but be the serpent inside”
2) “Man is wild beast, carnivorous by nature, and delighting in blood.”
3) Sorrows, like babies, grow bigger by nursing.
4) A man who thinks of revenge keeps his wounds green.

Because I Could Not Stop for Death – Critical Appreciation of the Poem

BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH – (Emily Dickinson)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM

OR
Emily Dickinson conceives death as a journey to eternity. Do you agree?

OR
Emily Dickinson’s views death as a gentle and comfortable companion to man. Do you agree?

OR
The journey of the poetess in the coach of Death is actually the journey of a funeral procession to the graveyard. Do you agree to this view?

The poetess discusses the reality of death in the religious light. Her poetry deals with the theme of morality and immortality. Death was a central problem of her life. She lived at the place which fell on the way to cemetery. She saw death all around herself; in her family; friends and relatives. She was moved by death of babies and women. In this poem she deals death as a gentle friend and soothing companion. Her views on death are quite different from other poets. It is called a mighty leveler by the poetess. It strikes its icy blow on the rich and poor equally. It is thought something horrible and painful. People are afraid of it.

But the poetess has presented death as a kind and gentle companion. As such it transports man to its final goal in a pleasurable manner. Moreover, the poetess has pointed out that death does not put an end to life. It is the beginning of a new life. It is an essential part of human life on earth. Man performs his journey of life from childhood to old age in the carriage of death. Death is very kind on man. Man forgets death in the pursuits of his daily life. But death does not forget him. It calls on him. According to the poetess death brings with it a wonderful sense of peace and religious serenity. The poetess conceives death not an end to human life but a beginning to immortality. In her view, we must face death with calm and serenity.

EXERCISE

Is there any thing in the poem to suggest that it is written by a woman?

The poem contains many references which suggest that it is written by a woman, death in the poem has been presented as a suitor and lover. It was the tradition in London and America in the past years that the suitor would go a journey on a long ride with his beloved. Death has been personified as a lover and it transports the poetess to her eternal home.

The gown and the tippet are worn by ladies. We can conclude in the light of above discussion that the poem has been written by a woman.

Do you think that there is an element of fear in the poem?
OR
Does the poem inspire fear in us?

This is a thought provoking and beautiful poem on death. Death has been considered as a painful and horrible thing on earth.

But the poetess has presented death as a kind and gentle companion. As such it transports man to its final goal in a pleasurable manner. Moreover, the poetess has pointed out that death does not put an end to life. It is the beginning of a new life. It is an essential part of human life on earth. Man performs his journey of life from childhood to old age in the carriage of death. Death is very kind on man. Man forgets death in the pursuits of his daily life. But death does not forget him. It calls on him. According to the poetess death brings with it a wonderful sense of peace and religious serenity. The poetess conceives death not an end to human life but a beginning to immortality. In her view, we must face death with calm and serenity.

Write a note on the symbolical significance of the poem.

Emily Dickinson has used symbols in this poem. School children, gazing fields, and setting sun represent childhood, youth and old age respectively. As the poetess believes in life after death, she points out to her inadequate gown, not strong enough to protect her body. In fact she is pointing to the inadequate good deeds which could not protect her soul in the next world. The gown is, thus symbol of deeds which protect her from wrath of God in the next world. The image of the ride in the carriage has a dual significance. It is a journey from life to death, from the physical to the spiritual, from time to timelessness. In this way it is the journey of life from cradle to grave. ‘The swelling of the ground’ is the symbol of grave.

CREATIVE EXERCISES
1. When death becomes easy and peaceful?
2. What makes death a cruel reality?
Quotations and references for this poem
1) We die as soon as we are born; it is only after death that we begin to live again.
2) Cowards die many times before their death.
3) Life is short; therefore, let us make good use of it.
4) One may live as a king, a conqueror or a magistrate, but he must die as a man.

LIGHTS OUT – Critical Appreciation of the Poem

LIGHTS OUT
(Edward Thomas)

CRITICAL APPRECIATION OF THE POEM
OR
Sleep is a power urge, comment.

This poem is a beautiful description of sleep. The poetry of Edward Thomas is marked with his love of the ordinary things and people of the English Countryside. Trees and flowers are always with him. It is not wrong to say that half the birds are there by name and nature in his poems.

In this poem he views sleep from a very interesting angle. Sleep is very powerful thing. It has a dominating over all human interests and activities. No man can withstand its lure. It is a great source of comfort and relief. After a day’s hard work, man likes to go to sleep. Sleep removes his weariness and makes him fresh.

Sleep is very might and powerful thing. The poet compares it to a forest whose depths are not known. Sleep is such a forest in which everyone is lost. Sleep has an equal influence on everybody. The pious and the wicked have to yield before it sooner or later. It levels everybody. People work from dawn to dusk. They remain busy in their jobs and pursuits. At night when lights go out they find themselves in the lap on sleep.

Sleep is the end of everything. Feelings like love, despair and ambition come to an end. When a person is attacked by sleep, he forgets everything. He throws away the most interesting book. He divorces from his mind the faces of his dear friends and relatives. The poet wishes to go into the unknown forest of sleep without holding anything in his mind. He doesn’t know how he will overcome this difficult experience.

A study of the poem fills us with a sense of gratitude for the blessings of sleep. God is praised for bestowing on us the gift of sleep. Sleep provides joy and pleasure to us. It puts an end to our activities. The poet’s submission to the force of sleep is total and unconditional. He surrenders before the magical power of sleep and drifts into the valley of silence.

The poem seems to have a hidden and implicit idea of death in it. Death and sleep are closely related. After death, the activities and pursuits also come to an end. The poem is written in a simple language. It makes an interesting reading.

EXERCISE
Do you think that the poem has a hidden and implicit idea of death in it?
OR
Does the poet compare sleep to death in this poem?

Sleep has been often treated as death by English poets. Sleep is regarded as death for obvious reasons. Sleep as well as our death takes away our consciousness and awareness from us. In this poem, the poet compares sleep to a deep forest, where everything is lost. Death is also a sleep forest where man loses his worldly pursuits and desires and ambitions. In this poem, there are hints which suggest that the poet has death in his mind while he is writing about sleep. Imagery of the leaves, darkness, foliage trees etc. is fit for the theme of sleep as well as death. Sleep is said to be mighty and powerful thing. Same is the case with death. When sleep comes, it conquers everybody. The wicked and the pious are helpless before it.

All our joys, ambitions and pains are lost in the forest of sleep. Same is the case with death. Death levels everything. The rich and poor, the wicked and the pious, the king and the masses are helpless before it. Death puts an end to our worries, grief, joys and hopes. The poet has presented the theme of death and sleep very intelligently in the poem.

CREATIVE EXERCISES
1. Write down the process of sleep in simple and your own words.
2. How is death an equalizer factor?

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