Shirley Toulson was born on 20th May 1924 in Henley-on-Thames, England as the daughter of Douglas Horsfall Dixon and Marjorie Brown. She had a huge passion on writing and was greatly influenced y her father who was a writer too. She secured a B.A on Literature from Brockenhurst College in London in the year 1953. Shortly, she took writing as career but also served as the editor for many magazines in meantime. She married Alan Brownjohn on 6th February 1960. They had three children - Janet Sayers, Ian Toulson and Steven brownjohn. ut after nine years they divorced on March 1969. Celtic Christianity influenced her greatly that most of her major works like "Celtic Alternative" in 1987 and "Celtic Year" in 1993 were on that topic. But these works indeed made her more famous
The poet sees a photograph of her mother. She was with her two girl cousins. They are enjoying the sea holiday. The poet sees everything changed even the sea, however less. Some twenty- thirty years later, the poet remembers her mother and misses her. This photograph is a token of remembrance of her mother.
ABOUT THE POEM
The photograph pasted on the cardboard shows two girl cousins – Betty and Dolly who went paddling in the sea with the poetess mother. Each of them was holding one of the hands of the poet’s mother, who was a big girl of some twelve year or so at that time. Her uncle had a camera. All three stood still facing the camera. They pushed their hair aside to smile. Thus the photograph presents three smiling faces. The face of the poet’s mother is a sweet one. It was of a time before she was born. Their feet, which were being washed by sea water for a very short time, have been photographed along with sea, which appears to have changed less. The poet thus indirectly hints that her mother’s face has changed over the years.
After a lapse of time, say some twenty or thirty years later, the poet’s mother would laugh at the snapshot. She would refer to the photograph and recollect how her cousins Betty and Dolly had dressed themselves for the beach when they went on a sea holiday. She laughs as she sees the scanty dress. This sea holiday was an event of her past. Her laughter is real and pleasant for the poet. It is precious memory for her. Both-her holiday and her laughter are amusing in an ironic way as they are linked with her loss which requires a forced state of freedom from pain.
Now, the poet’s mother is dead, for nearly as many years as that girl in the picture lived. The poet feels at a loss of words to comment on this event-her death. It is a solemn moment and its silence makes her silent. Thus the poetess pays a tribute to her mother. It is the old photograph that moves her to silence.
And she the big girl –some twelve years or so.”
a. What does the ‘cardboard’ show the poet?
Ans: The ‘cardboard’ shows the poet the scene on the sea beach with three girls.
b. Why did the two girl cousins hold one of the poet’s mother’s hands?
Ans: As the poet’s mother was ‘the big girl’ i. e. elder in age so the two girl cousins hold one of
c. How old was the oldest girl among the three cousins?
Ans: The oldest among the three cousins was some twelve years old.
d. How did the girls go to the sea beach?
Ans: The girls went to the sea beach ‘paddling’ means barefooted.
“Now she’s been dead nearly as many years
As that girl lived. And of this circumstance
There is nothing to say at all.
Its silence silences.”
a. How long has the poet’s mother been dead?
Ans: The poet’s mother has been dead for about twelve years.
b. What is the meaning of the word ‘circumstance’ in the poem?
Ans: The word ‘circumstance’ in the poem means the death of the poet’s mother.
c. Why is there nothing to say at all?
Ans: There is nothing to say at all because the poet has lost her mother and her beautiful smile
d. What silences the silence?
Ans: The silence of the death silences the silence.
3. Describe the three girls as they pose for the photograph?
Ans: The three girls went to the sea beach to be photographed by their uncle. The younger
cousins were holding hands of the elder cousin. They smiled through their hair as they stood still
for a photograph.
4. Why would the poet’s mother laugh at the snapshot?
Ans: The poet’s mother would laugh at the snapshot as it would revive her memories of the old
happy days on the sea beach and the strange way in which they were dressed for the beach.
5. What are the losses of the poet’s mother and the poet?
Ans: The poet’s mother’s loss is of her old happy days on the sea beach while the loss of the poet
is the beautiful smile of her mother as she is now dead.
1) How does the poet contracts the girls terrible transience with the scene?
2) "Both thrive with the laboured ease of loss" Describe the ironical situation.
3) Explain the line " the sea holiday as a past, mine is her laughter , Time spares none" .
4) What is the significance of the ‘cardboard’ frame?
THE VOICE OF THE RAIN
(by Walt Whitman)
About the Author :
Walt Whitman was an American Poet, Essayist and Journalist. A humanist, he was part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American Canon, often called the father of Free Verse.
The poem is in the form of answer to a question that the poet puts to the rain, “who are you?” The rain says that it is the poem of the earth. It rises out of land and sea and comes down to give life to the earth. It makes the earth pure and more beautiful just as a song does when it comes back to the singer.
The poet asks the rain what she is.
Strangely enough, the rain gives an answer. The poet translates it in his own language.
The rain is the ‘Poem of the Earth’.
She rises upwards towards the sky out of the land and the bottomless sea.
In the sky she undergoes some transformation and falls down in the form of water drops.
The rain gives a new lease of life to the earth, washes out all its dust and impurities.
No growth is possible without rain. All seeds lying hidden sprout only when it rains.
After completing her cycle, the rain comes back to the place of its origin. The earth.
Read the extract carefully and answer the questions that follow :
And forever, by day and night, I give back life to my own origin and make pure and beautify it.
(For song, issuing from its birth place, after fulfillment, wandering Reck’d or unreck’d duly with love returns)
How is the cyclic movement or rain brought out in the poem ?
What is the significance of the word ‘song’ here ?
How does the rain benefit the earth ?
Who is ‘I’ here ?
The poem gives a clear picture of how clouds are formed and how they dissolve into water again.
The world ‘song’ is the repetition of earlier expression-poem of the earth.
It is a real benefactor of the earth. It makes earth pure and beautiful.
‘I’ is referred as the rain.
And who art thou ? said I to the soft falling shower
Which strange to tell gave me an answer, as here translated :
I am the Poem of Earth, said the voice of the rain,
Eternal I rise impalpable out of the land and the bottomless sea. 1x4 = 4
MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS :
The ‘I’ in the third line stands for :
a) the rain b) the poet c) the reader d) Earth
‘I’ in the third and fourth line stands for :-
a) the poet b) the voice of rain c) Earth d) the sea
‘Eternal I rise’ means :
a) formation of cloud from vapor b) heaven c) heavenly bodies d) None of these
The word ‘impalpable’ in the fourth line means :
a) strong b) weak c) untouched and unseen d) bottomless
Upward to Heaven, whence, vaguely form’d altogether
changed, and yet the same.
I descend to lave the droughts, atomies, dust-layers
Of the globe,
And all that in them without me were seeds only, latent,
Describe the upward movement of the rain
What happens in the sky?
Describe the things that receive the blessings of the rain
What will happen if it doesn’t rain?
Find a word in the passage which means ‘hidden’.
Due to Evaporation, the water vapors rise out of the land and the bottomless sea. They take their shape in the sky
Markus Natten , the poet is obsessed with the loss of his childhood and he wants to know exactly when he lost his childhood.
He makes a guess that it was at the age of eleven when he started thinking like a rational human being .He realized that ‘Hell’ and ‘Heaven’ were imaginary concepts, not existed even books of Geography and they existed only in mind.
Perhaps the poet lost his childhood when he was able to see through the hypocrisy adults .He realized that the grown ups were not as good as they appeared to be .Nor did they practice love in their life as they frequently preached.
He started thinking independently without being influenced or directed by others .
The poet does not ask when he lost his childhood but asks where his childhood has gone to?
He himself gives an answer .His childhood stands for innocence , simplicity and it is lying hidden in the innocent face of an infant.
STANZAS FOR COMPREHENSION
When did my childhood go ?
Was it the day I ceased to be eleven
Was it the time I realized that Hell and Heaven
Could not be found be found in Geography
And therefore could not be
Was that the day!
Q1 Why does the poet mention the age of eleven?
Ans. The age of eleven is very crucial because below this age , a person is counted as a child and after it he becomes an adolescent.
Q2. When did the poet come to know that hell and heaven are imaginary concepts?
Ans. He realized that Hell and Heaven are imaginary concepts because they do not exist even in books of geography.
Q3. Find words from the passage which mean
Ans. I) ceased ii) realized
Multiple Choice Questions.
The poet wants to know
a) The he became an adolescent b) the he lost his childhood c) the day he became wise d) the day he became responsible
They could not be found b) they could not exist c) they could not continue d) they could not trouble
3 Hell and Heaven could be found
Not in geography books b) not on the earth c)not in the sky d) not in the cities
When did my childhood go
Was it when I found my mind was really mine
To use whichever way I choose ,
Producing thoughts that were not those of other people
But my own ,and mine alone
Was that the day!
Q1 What kind of thoughts could he produce ?
Ans. He could produce his own thoughts thinking independently of others.
Q2. Explain : My mind was really mine .
Ans. It means that his mind acted independently and was not influenced or directed by others.
Q3. How could he use his mind ?
Ans. He could use his mind the way he liked to use it.
Multiple choice questions
Q1. He could use his mind
As others liked b) as others influenced him c)as he liked him d)as a mature person.
Q2. He wanted his mind
To have healthy thoughts b) to have good thoughts c)to think independently d)to think rightly.
Q3.’Mine alone’ here means
Not shared by others b) not influenced by others c)not troubled by others d)for myself only.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Q1.What is the difference between the childhood and adulthood?
Ans. Childhood stands for innocence .It knows no crafts or hypocrisy. The moment a man is able to differentiate between the preaching and actions of the grown ups, he takes a step towards maturity .
Q2.Has the poet got the answer to the question ‘Where did my childhood go?’
Ans. Yes ,the poet got the answer of this question. He feels that his childhood is lying hidden in an infant’s innocent face .He lost his innocence ,honesty and simplicity .
Q3. Do you feel that the poet is nostalgic about his childhood? Does he feel the loss of his childhood as a great loss/
Ans. Really the poet becomes nostalgic about his childhood .Childhood means innocence and honesty. The poet suffers from a sense of loss and he is full of regret and remorse.
Q4. Do you feel that an independent thinking is a step towards adulthood ?
Ans. Yes, A child has no independence .His thinking is always influenced by adults. When he starts thinking freely ,he becomes matured. His adulthood starts when he feels that his thoughts are his own .
Q5. What does the poet say about the hypocrisy of the grown ups?
Ans. The poet says that the grown ups are not as good as they appear to be.. Nor do they practise love in their actions as they preach .Hypocrisy and crafty nature is associated only with adults.
Short Questions for Practice
Q.1. When did the poet start thinking rationally and how?
Q2. In the last stanza the poet asks “Where did my childhood go” ? What answer does he get?
Q3. What is the difference between what they talk of and what they do?
Q4. When did the poet know that ‘hell’ and ‘heaven’ are imaginary concepts?
Father to Son
About the poet: Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001) was born in Boston, Lincolnshire but moved to Oxford at the age of six where she lived for the rest of her life. Her Collected Poems appeared in 2002. Although initially linked to the group of poets including Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn known as 'The Movement', Jennings' work doesn't share their irony or academic wit. However, the unassuming technical craft of her poetry and its emotional restraint are qualities that were praised by the poets and critics of the period and continued to be abiding characteristics of her work. Amongst the many honours awarded for her work are the W.H. Smith Literary Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and a CBE.
Theme: The poem is a lament of a father because the chasm between his son and him has widened over the years. He is unable to trace the reason for this huge generation gap that has become too big a gulf to fill. The father wants to forgive his son, forget the past and start afresh.
Summary: The father complains that he does not understand his own child. Though they have lived together for so many years now i.e. since the time of his son’s birth, the father knows nothing of him. The father tries to build up a relationship with his son from the early years, in a manner when his son began to recognize people around, to crawl and to walk in a desperate attempt. The father wonders whether he has destroyed the seed of his off-spring or sown it where the land belongs to his heir and none is his. Both father and son continue to speak like strangers now and there seem no signs of understanding in the air between the two. In traditional belief, the son is created and born to the likings and designs of his father, yet in this case, the father cannot share what his son loves. Most of the time silence surrounds them. The father’s greatest wish is for his son to be ‘The Prodigal’ son who will very soon return to his father’s house; the home which he always knew. This is definitely the better alternative rather than to see his son move out into the world blindly on his own, by himself and fall into trouble. The father is ready to forgive him at any cost as long as he is able to reshape him up from the long bounded sorrow to a new love. Both father and son all over the world must learn to live on the same globe and on the same land. The father finally admits that there are times that he cannot understand himself or why his anger grows from grief? However they have learnt to put out each other’s empty hand and with each other’s heart that is longing for something to forgive.
“I do not understand this child
Though we have lived together now
In the same house for years. I know
Nothing of him, so try to build
Up a relationship from how
He was when small. Yet have I killed”
Who is “I” in the given lines? Who is the “child”?
The father is referred to as the “I “ in these lines. His son is the child.
What is his complaint?
His complaint is that he does not understand his son despite their living together.
What does he want to do now?
He now wants to build a relationship from the beginning.
What has he killed?
He has killed the connection or rapport between the father and son.
“ The seed I spent or sown It where
The land is his and none of mine?
We speak like strangers, there’s no sign
Of understanding in the air.
This child is built to my design
Yet what he loves I cannot share.”
What has he” sown”?
He has nurtured the child whom he compares to seeds, on love and understanding.
What is the relationship between them like?
The father and son are like strangers.
What is lacking between the two?
Sharing and understanding is lacking between the two.
What can he not share?
The father cannot share his son’s opinion, and likes and dislikes.
The father and son try to reach out to each other but in vain.
Explain: “each put out an empty hand”.
The father and son try to reach out to each other but in vain.
What do they yearn for?
They long to forgive and forget the past and start afresh.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS:
What kind of relationship do the father and son share? Why is it so?
The father and son are estranged to each other. This is because there is communication gap between father and son .There is no understanding between the two. What the father says, the son cannot understand and what the son loves, the father fails to appreciate.
What does the father feel about this stranger like relationship with his son? Does he wish to change it?
The father laments the sorry state of his relationship with his son. He wants to set it right. He wants his son to come back home and he is ready to forgive him. He believes that father and son must stay at the same place for a better bonding.
How is the father’s helplessness brought out in the poem?
The poem is a lament of the father because the chasm between his son and him has grown over the years .He recalls moments of his son as a child and laments how he has grown up to become a stranger to her. Their preferences and ideologies have alienated them. He wishes to rebuild their relationship and start afresh.
QUESTIONS FOR PRACTICE:
This child is built to my design
Yet what he loves I cannot share.
Silence surrounds us.
Explain: “The child is built to my design”.
What kind of relationship exists between the father and the son?
Find the expression which expresses the father’s desolation?
Which poetic device has been used in the last line?
I would have
Him prodigal, returning to
His father’s house, the home he knew,
Rather than see him make and move
His world. I would forgive him too,
Shaping from sorrow a new love.
Explain the use of the word ‘prodigal’ in the second line.
What does ‘I’ not want?
What would ‘I’ forgive?
What is the meaning of the last line?
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS:
Why does the father feel that he and his son are like strangers to each other?
What emotions have been expressed by the father regarding his relationship with his son?
Describe “Where the land is his and none of mine”.