Reach for the Top

Summary of ‘Reach for the Top

This biographical story tells us about the life and achievements of Santosh Yadav, who became the youngest and the first woman to scale Mt. Everest twice. She was born in Joniawas village in Rothak district, where the birth of a girl child was not welcomed. Just before her birth a holy man was about to bless her mother with a son, but was surprised when her grandmother told him that they wanted a daughter. Santosh was born as the sixth child after her five brothers. She was a rebellious child who dressed in shorts like her brothers and expected others to change, if what she was doing was right.

 Although her parents were affluent and could well afford to have her educated in the best schools in Delhi like her brothers; she was compelled to study in the village school as per village customs. When she turned sixteen, her parents wanted her to get married like the other girls of the village. Marriage at that stage was the last thing in her mind and Santosh clearly stated that she would never get married if she did not get proper education. She got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi against her parent’s wishes.

When her parents refused to pay for her education she informed them that she would work overtime in order to pay her fees. Her parents conceded, and thereafter she went on to pursue higher studies from Maharani College in Jaipur. From her Room in Kasturba Hostel, she often watched villagers going up the Arravali hills and vanishing after sometime. Her curiosity took her to the Aravalli hills where she met a few mountaineers who permitted her to join them. This incident motivated her to take up climbing.

She got herself enrolled in Uttarkashi’s Nehru Institute of Engineering and directly went to Uttarkashi after her semesters instead of going home. She later wrote a letter of apology to her father for not taking his permission before enrolling herself for training. Her mountaineering expeditions every year showed her exceptional climbing skills, physical and mental strength and resistance to cold and altitude.  In 1992 just four years after her first climb in the Aravallis, she became the youngest woman to climb Everest. She won over her fellow climbers with her dexterity, team-spirit and concern for others. She unsuccessfully tried to save a fellow climber in South Col. but was successful in saving Mohan Singh by sharing her oxygen with him.

She became a member of the Indo- Nepalese team and was successful in scaling the Everest twice in 1993. She was honoured with the Padmashri award for her exceptional achievements. The unfurling of the tricolour on top of the world was a spiritual moment for a true patriot like Santosh Yadav. She felt proud to be an Indian.  She is also a zealous  environmentalist who brought down five hundred kilos of garbage from the Himalayas.


Contentment : satisfaction

The last thing : a thing of least importance

Politely : gently

Urge : a very strong desire

Check it out : find  out

Answered in the affirmative: gave a positive reply

No looking back : no stopping

Enrolled : took admission

Headed straight for – went directly to

Matured – developed

top honours: highest awards

the enormity of the moment: a very great moment

sink in: be understood

held it aloft: held it up high

fervent: having strong and sincere feelings

Thinking about the Text – Question -Answers of ‘Reach for the Top’

I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each. (The paragraph numbers within brackets provide clues to the answers.)

1.Why was the ‘holy man’ who gave Santosh’s mother his blessings surprised?

Ans .  The holy man had assumed that Santosh’s mother would want a son according to the norms of the society. He was ready to bless her with a son but was taken by surprise when Santosh’s grandmother told him that they did not want a son but a daughter.

2. Give an example to show that even as a young girl Santosh was not ready to accept anything unreasonable.

Ans.Santosh tried her best to be independent of the unreasonable traditional customs. She was determined to choose the correct path and if the others were against her, it was they who would have to change. She would not buldge from her decision. 

3. Why was Santosh sent to the local school?

Ans. Santosh’s parents were affluent land owners and could well afford to send their children to the best schools. However, they choose to send Santosh to the local village school in accordance with the prevailing norms of the family and the society at large.

4. When did she leave home for Delhi, and why?

Ans.  Unlike the other girls of the village, Santosh wanted a proper education and getting married before that was the last thing on her mind. So, at the age of sixteen, she left home and got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi.

5. Why did Santosh’s parents agree to pay for her schooling in Delhi? What mental qualities of Santosh are brought into light by this incident?

Ans. Santosh’s parents agreed  to pay for her schooling when she informed them of her plans to pay for her school fees by working parttime.

II. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).

1. How did Santosh begin to climb mountains?

Ans. While staying in Jaipur for pursuing higher studies in Maharani College, Santosh used to watch, villagers going up the hill and suddenly vanishing from her room in Kasturba Hostel which overlook the Aravali hills.

One day she decided to check it out herself and found nobody but a few mountaineers and asked if she could join them.To her pleasant surprise, they agreed and motivated her to take up climbing. 

2. What incidents during the Everest expedition show Santosh’s concern for her team-mates?

Ans. Santonsh’s  concern for her teammates could be seen during the 1992  Everest  Mission where she provided special care for a climber who lay dying. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful.

In another case she did manage to save the life of Mohan Singh by sharing her oxygen with him

3. What shows her concern for the environment?

Ans. As a fervent environmentalist, Santosh’s concern over nature could be seen when she collected and brought down five hundred kilogram of garbage from the Himalayas.

4. How does she describe her feelings at the summit of the Everest?

Ans. At the summit of the Everest , Santosh Yadav took some time to let the enormity of the moment sink in. She then unfurled the Indian tricolour and it aloft on the roof of the world. It was a spiritual moment and Santosh felt proud. 

5. Santosh Yadav got into the record books both times she scaled Mt Everest. What were the reasons for this?

Ans.  At barely twenty years of age, Santosh Yadav scaled Mt. Everest, becoming the youngest woman in the world to achieve the feat.

In 1993 , she scaled Mt. Everest  for the second time, thus becoming the first woman to scale the Everest twice.

Extra questions: -‘Reach for the Top

Q. Write the character sketch of Maria Sarapova.

Born in Siberia, Maria Sarapova possesses great determination and mental toughness. Leaving no room for sentiments she believes that her sacrifices were worth her achievements. She is patriotic and is proud of her Russian nationality. She was forever ready to represent Russia in the Olympics. She describes herself as a competitive player who loves to face challenges.

Apart from being a successful professional tennis player, she lists fashion, singing and dancing as her hobbies. She has an affinity for sophisticated evening gowns, pancakes with chocolate spread and fizzy drinks. Maria Sarapova states that while monetary gains are a motivation for her, what she truly strives for is to be is to be seeded as number one in world rankings.

Q. Write a brief character sketch of Santosh Yadav

Santosh Yadav holds the  record for being the youngest and the first woman to scale Mt. Everest twice. Displaying her stubbornness on continuing her education and taking up mountaineering later she was forever determined to complete any task she took up. Aside from her mountaineering ambitions she is a kind and helpful human being who risked her life to save those of her fellow climbers. Her climbing skills, mental strength, physical fitness, team-spirit along with her concern for others never fail to impress those around her.  Apart from being an ace mountaineer , she is an ardent environmentalist who brought down five hundred kilograms of trash from Everest in her desire to keep the mountains clean.

Q. Compare and contrast the struggles and achievements of Santosh yadav and Maria Sarapova.

Ans. Maria started her journey at nine while Santosh Yadav started rebelling to continue her education at the age of sixteen.Unlike Maria’s parents who sacrificed a lot to help her achieve her goals, Santosh’s parents were against her ambition and she had to reach her goals through her own grit. Both of them possess great mental strength as is evident from Maria’s case of being bullied by her seniors and Santosh’s  stubbornness in continuing her education. Their will power and strong desire to succeed is a common feature which did not leave any room for sentiments when it came to reaching their goals. They are both very patriotic. Maria says that she is willing to represent  Russia in the Olympics if they ask her to and Santosh Yadav felt proud as an Indian holding the tricolour at highest peak in the world. 

III. Complete the following statements.

1. From her room in Kasturba Hostel, Santosh used to  watch villagers go up the Aravalli Hills and vanish after a while.

2. When she finished college, Santosh had to write a letter of apology to her father because she had enrolled herself for mountain training in Uttarkashi without his permission, and she had gone there straight, instead of  going home.

3. During the Everest expedition, her seniors in the team admired her climbing skills, physical fitness and mental strength while her team-spirit  and concern for others endeared her to fellow climbers.

IV. Pick out words from the text that mean the same as the following words or expressions. (Look in the paragraphs indicated.)

1. took to be true without proof (1):– assumed

2. based on reason; sensible; reasonable (2): – rational

3. the usual way of doing things (3): – custom

4. a strong desire arising from within (5): –  urge

5. the power to endure, without falling ill (7): – resistance


A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

This poem is about the death of a loved one. How does the poet feel when he thinks about her death? How does he imagine her to be, after death?

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal

A slumber did my spirit seal—

I had no human fears.

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.


No motion has she now, no force—

She neither hears nor sees,

Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course

With rocks and stones and trees.

                              William Wordsworth


WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770- 1850) was one of the greatest of English Romantic poets. He mastered all major verse forms, lyrics, ballads, odes, sonnets, narrative poetry and reflective verse. He is a poet of nature and wrote in the language of everyday speech. In his preface to ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which he published with his friend Coleridge, he explains that his motive was to write poetry for the ordinary reader. His most famous works include – ‘Tintern Abbey’, ‘The Prelude”. His ‘Collection of Poems’ includes a host of lyrics, odes and sonnets. He became The Poet Laureate of Britain in 1864.

‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’ belongs to the ‘Lucy’ group of poems. It is probable that Lucy does not represent any real person. She is possibly Wordsworth’s ideal of what powers of nature can do to bring about perfection in the development of the human form and mind. This is the only poem in the group where he does not mention Lucy’s name.

Theme of – ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

The poem ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’ deals with the inevitability of death and the stoic calm that one experiences with acceptance of death. The poet accepts the death of his beloved and realises that she has become a part of nature and is now beyond the grasp of time. Nothing can harm her anymore and in being a part of nature she has been immortalised.

Message of – ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

The poet gives us the message that death is inevitable and everyone born in this earth must return to dust and become a part of nature.

Summary of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

The first stanza deals with the poets shock at the death of his beloved. He was enthralled by her beauty and never thought that he might lose her some day. Her death benumbed his senses and he ceased to perceive any kind of feeling or fear.  His beloved the lively and lovely Lucy is no longer able

to feel anything anymore and is beyond the reach of time. The ravages of time could no longer harm her. This realisation brings about a sense of peace in the poet’s mind.

In the second stanza the poet accepts death as an inevitable truth that everyone has to face. He tells us that his beloved is no longer alive and therefore does not move, see or hear anymore.  The poet realises that she is now an inseparable part of nature and will eternally roll around with the earth’s rotation on its axis; just like rocks, stones and trees.

GLOSSARY/ Word meanings of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

Slumber – sleep

Spirit – soul

Seal – close / shut off

Human fear –  emotion perceived from danger

Earthly years- (here) ravages of time

Motion – movement

Force – (here) power of her own

Diurnal: daily (“Earth’s diurnal course” is earth’s daily rotation on its axis.)

Literary Devices in ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

Alliteration – A slumber did my spirit seal. – ‘s’ sound is repeated

                     Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course. ‘r’ sound is repeated

Metaphor – ‘A slumber did my spirit seal.

                   The poet’s peaceful state is compared to a state as if he is in a deep sleep.

Personification – ‘The touch of earthly years’

Here the ‘earthly years’ have been attributed with human qualities.

Repetition ‘No’, ‘’and’ – these two words are repeated twice in the same line.

Rhyme scheme of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

The rhyme scheme of the poem is ‘abab  cdcd’.

The fist line rhymes with the third line, the second with the fourth.

The fifth line rhymes with the seventh one and the sixth line with the eighth


Thinking about the Poem -‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

Question /Answers of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

1“A slumber did my spirit seal,” says the poet. That is, a deep sleep ‘closed off ’ his soul (or mind). How does the poet react to his loved one’s death? Does he feel bitter grief? Or does he feel a great peace?

Ans. The poet is shocked and surprised at the death of his beloved. Her death pained him a lot and saddened him. But with the passing of time the ‘bitter grief’ reduces with gradual acceptance and realisation that his beloved has become a part of nature and is beyond the mortal earthly touch. The poet feels peaceful and becomes passive to all human feelings and fears.

2. The passing of time will no longer affect her, says the poet. Which lines of the poem say this?

Ans. The lines which convey that the poet’s beloved is no longer affected by the passing of time are-

 “She seems a thing that could not feel

   The touch of earthly years.”

3. How does the poet imagine her to be, after death? Does he think of her as a person living in a very happy state (a ‘heaven’)? Or does he see her now as a part of nature? In which lines of the poem do you find your answer?

Ans. The poet thinks that his beloved has become an inseparable part of nature.

No, he possibly does not think that she is in a happy state in heaven. He sees her as a person who is dead and has lost all her human feelings. She has become a part of the earth and in that way she has become immortal.

The lines which tell us so are-

“Rolled around in earth’s diurnal course

 With rocks and stones and trees.”

Extra questions –

Q. Justify the title of the poem – “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”

Ans. According to me, the title of the poem is justified because the poem talks about the effect of the sudden and untimely death of his beloved. After his death he feels benumbed with grief, as if a deep slumber has sealed his spirit. The acceptance of her death makes him fell at peace which seems to close off all feelings from his body and soul. His beloved, now a part of nature, will no longer be affected by earthly years. She will not feel any motion or force, nor will she be able to perceive with her eyes and ears. The poet realises that she is now an inseparable part of nature and will eternally roll around with the earth’s rotation on its axis; just like rocks, stones and trees. Therefore, the spirit of the poet is engulfed in a slumber and has become free from human feelings and fears.

Q. Why could she not feel the touch of earthly years?

Ans. The poet’s beloved could not feel the touch of earthly years as was dead and did not have any feelings. She would not age or be affected by time as she has eternally become an inseparable part of nature.

Q. Describe her condition after death as depicted by the poet.

Ans. After her death, the poet describes his beloved as someone who will never again be affected by time. She will not be able to feel any motion or force, nor will she be able to hear or see. She is now a part of nature and is rotating around in the earth’s diurnal course just like the rocks, stones and trees.

 Q. How has Lucy become a part of the earth’s diurnal course?

Ans. Lucy after her death has been buried in her grave. Therefore, she has now become a part of the earth along with the rocks and stones and trees and is being rolled along with the earth as it rotates in its axis.

Annotations/ Reference to context of ‘A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal’

A slumber did my spirit seal—

I had no human fears.

She seemed a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

Q. What  does the poet mean by ‘A slumber did my spirit seal’?

Ans. The poet means to say that the initial shock of losing his beloved made him numb. It was as if a deep sleep had closed off his mind and heart and he was unable to perceive any kind of emotion.

Q. Why did the poet not have any human fears?

Ans. The poet did not feel any kind of fear that human beings feel as his mind had become numb with the shock of losing Lucy his beloved.

Q. Why did she seem a thing that could not feel the touch of earthly years?

Ans. The poet’s beloved was dead and therefore was now like an inanimate object which was beyond the grasp of time. The years on earth or time will no longer be able to affect her and therefore she is beyond the touch of earthly years.

2.  No motion has she now, no force—

     She neither hears nor sees,

    Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course

    With rocks and stones and trees.

Q. What does the poet mean by ‘No motion has she now, no force/ She neither hears nor sees,’

Ans. The poet’s beloved is dead therefore she is buried and has become an integral and inseparable part of nature. She does not have any movement of her own and is not able to perceive anything with her eyes and ears.

Q. Who is rolled about in earth’s diurnal course and why?

Ans. the poet’s beloved is now dead and buried under the earth. She is now a part of nature and is being rotated along with the other objects of the earth as it rotates on its axis.

Q   What is the relation between the poet’s beloved to the rocks and stones and trees?

Ans. The poet says that his beloved is now inanimate without  any movement and force of her own. She is buried in her grave and has become an eternal part of nature. Just like the rocks and stones and trees, she too is rotating along with the earth.

NO MEN ARE FOREIGN Summary, Literary devices, Question answers

In this poem the poet reminds us of the many ways in which we are all the same — for we are all human.

                                                           No Men Are Foreign

Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign

Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes

Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon

Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.


They, too, aware of sun and air and water,

Are fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d.

Their hands are ours, and in their lines we read

A labour not different from our own.


Remember they have eyes like ours that wake

Or sleep, and strength that can be won

By love. In every land is common life

That all can recognise and understand.


Let us remember, whenever we are told

To hate our brothers, it is ourselves

That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn.

Remember, we who take arms against each other


It is the human earth that we defile.

Our hells of fire and dust outrage the innocence

Of air that is everywhere our own,                                                                                   

Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange.



About the poet: – James Kirkup

James Harold Kirkup (1918 – 2009) was an English poet, translator, dramatist, auto-biographer and travel writer. He was the only son of a carpenter and studied in South Shields High School. Later he graduated from Durham University. He was a prolific writer and was skilled in writing ‘haiku’ and ‘tanka’. His epic ‘Pikadon’ deals with the bombings of ‘Hiroshima’ and ‘Nagasaki’. He wrote over 45 books and received the Atlantic- Rockefeller Award (1950). He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1962.

Summary of the poem –

The poem deals with the theme of human equality and universal brotherhood. It is a wake-up call for the readers to realise the destructive effects of war and discrimination.

The first stanza starts with ‘remember’ indicating that people must reflect and remind themselves that the boundaries and discrimination in the minds of people are not real but creations of man’s mind.  He says that in spite of physical and cultural differences entire mankind is same and the divisions that make a country foreign are not made by nature hence unnatural . The entire earth is the home for mankind and therefore no country is foreign. Making reference to the Second World War, he says that soldiers who wear different uniforms are having the same humanity inside them. Despite the difference in their attires ‘a single body breathes’ in the sense that their emotions, needs and wants are the same. It is the same earth on which every human walks, thrives and will be buried after death. No matter what superficial differences we create; we shall lead the same type of life, and meet the same end.

In the second stanza the poet says that the basic needs of every human is the same. Everyone is bestowed with the ability to perceive and use the basic elements of nature like the sun, wind and water. People enjoy the bounties of nature during times of peace and face hunger during harsh winters and war. He means to convey the message that everyone has the same ups and downs in life during good and bad times and nature treats all living beings as equal. The hands of people in other parts of the world do the same type of work as we do and their thoughts and writings are similar to ours. Hence there is no difference among God’s creations.

The third stanza tells us that people in other countries see, sleep and wake up just like us. They have the same physical and mental abilities. They too have an inner strength which can be dominated by force but won over by love. Love is the universal language that is understood by all and can win over the greatest of strengths. The poet means to say that it is not through war but through empathy and love that people’s hearts can be won.

The poet warns the readers in the fourth stanza by saying that we should be vigilant of the negative forces who want to profit by spreading difference and hatred. Politicians, religious leaders and people with vested interests instigate the common people to take up arms and fight against each other. In harming each other due to the hatred spread by selfish leaders, it is we who suffer and face huge losses while the leaders who spread such hatred enjoy benefits and lead secure and comfortable lives.

The last stanza speaks of the negative outcomes of hatred and war. When people think of others as different and fight against each other, the world gets polluted with hatred and the blood of the dead. The world becomes a hell due to the anger, hatred and enmity among humans. Purity and innocence in the environment surrounding us is violated resulting in grief and loss. The poet ends the poem by reminding us that all men are the same and we must not think of people living in other counties as foreign and the other countries as strange. He wants everyone to change their mindset and be united, so that there is no excuse for war.

Glossary/ Word meanings

Stranger – an unknown person

Foreign – unfamiliar distant place

Harvest – crop

Labour – physical work

Dispossess: dislodge; deprive

Defile: make dirty; pollute

Outrage the innocence of: violate the purity of

Theme of ‘No Men are Foreign’

The theme of the poem is universal brotherhood and renunciation of war. The poet tells us that all humans are the same and are brothers.  We all have similar bodies and needs in life.  Our livelihoods are same and so are our ends. We all flourish in times of peace and suffer during winter. We all work and think in similar manner and live in the same earth; therefore, we must overcome superficial differences and live in a united manner.

Message of ‘No Men are Foreign’

The poet gives us the message that superficial differences are no excuse for war. Xenophobia or fear of foreigners is the basis of war, and common people must realise that war does not benefit them in any way so they must avoid war and live like brothers. Hatred, anger, differences yield negative results and therefore must be avoided at all costs.

Rhyme scheme – The poem is written in free verse and does not have a rhyme scheme.

Literary Devices in ‘No Men are Foreign’

Alliteration- (repetition of consonant sound)

body breathes’ ( ‘b’ sound is repeated)

Or sleep, and strength’ ( ‘s’ sound is repeated)

‘Land is common life’–  ( ‘l’ sound is repeated)

Metaphor- (indirect comparison without using as or like)

‘Beneath all uniforms’ – uniforms have been metaphorically used to refer to the different kinds of military dresses in different countries. It is ironical as it creates differences instead of uniformity.  Uniform can also be said to be ‘metonymy’ standing for the military.

‘war’s long winter starv’d’ –  the starvation faced during war and winter. Here ‘winter’ stands for the times of adversity when people suffer.

Repetition- (repeating words for emphasis)

Remember’ – This word has been repeated five times in the poem to emphasise the importance of implementing universal brotherhood.

The words in the first line have been reversed in the last line to re-emphasise the importance of uniting mankind for global peace.

Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign’ – first line

Remember, no men are foreign, and no countries strange’ – last line

Transferred epithet ( when an epithet or adjective actually describes a different noun)

‘peaceful harvests’ – here the harvests are not peaceful but the peasants cultivating them are in peaceful times.

Enjambment – (Continuous consecutive lines of poetry without period or full stop to indicate flow of thought)

Stanza 1 – lines 1, 2, 3 and 4

Stanza 2 – lines 3 and 4

Stanza 3 – lines 1, 2, and 3

Stanza 4 – lines 1 and 2

Stanza 5 – lines 2 and 3

       Symbolism – (representing things or ideas through symbols)

        Fire – symbol of anger, hatred, and enmity

Thinking about the Poem

Question / Answers of ‘ No men are Foreign’

1. (i) “Beneath all uniforms…” What uniforms do you think the poet is speaking about?

Ans.  The poet is speaking of the various uniforms that soldiers of different countries wear or even the traditional dresses of people across which creates difference among people at the superficial level. He tells the readers that all men are similar beneath the uniforms.

(ii) How does the poet suggest that all people on earth are the same?

The poet tells us that beneath the superficial differences there is a sameness that unites all mankind. We walk on the same earth and on death are buried in the same earth. We enjoy the bounties of nature during the times of peace and face starvation during times of adversities. We work and think in similar pattern and our eyes and bodies function in the same manner.

2. In stanza 1, find five ways in which we all are alike. Pick out the words.

Ans. In stanza one the poet says that every individual and every place across the globe are similar. We have the same type of body though the superficial clothing is different. We breathe in the same manner, walk on the same earth and are buried in the same earth after death.  So the lives of individuals are alike in life and death.

The words which tell us so are-

  1. ‘no men are strange’
  2. ‘no country foreign’
  3. ‘a single body breathes’
  4. ‘walk upon is earth like this’
  5. ‘in which we all shall lie’
3. How many common features can you find in stanza 2? Pick out the words.

Ans. The common features mentioned in stanza two which are shared by humans are-

the elements of nature ‘sun, air, water’

the bounties of nature ‘peaceful harvests’

the adversities in life ‘war’s long winter starved’

similar labour ‘their hands are ours

similar thought ‘in their lines we read’

The poet wants to emphasize that the basic needs and work of humans are the same.

4. “…whenever we are told to hate our brothers …” When do you think this happens? Why? Who ‘tells’ us? Should we do as we are told at such times? What does the poet say?

Ans.  Generally during war times selfish leaders instigate common people to fight and lay down their lives. Even during times of peace, narrow minded politicians and religious leaders instil differences and cause riots leading to loss of lives and property.

They instigate people to fulfil their own selfish benefits.

The cunning political leaders and religious heads tell us to hate those who are different from us.

No, we should not follow this type of orders or advice it will harm our brothers, pollute the social environment and cause destruction to humanity.

The poet repeatedly tells us that the entire world is the same and wants to spread universal brotherhood.

Extra questions: ‘No Men are Foreign’

Q1. Why does the poet think that no men are foreign?

Ans. The poet tells us that every individual has the same type of body, has similar needs, lead the same type of life in the same earth and go back to the same earth after death therefore all are alike.

Q2. What do you understand by ‘peaceful harvests’?

Ans. Peaceful harvests refer to the crops grown and harvested during times of peace. The poet means to say that people can enjoy the bounties of nature during peaceful times.

Q3. Elucidate- ‘War’s long winter starv’d’.

Ans.  The phrase means that common agricultural activities cannot be carried on during war; hence people face deprivation and starvation during war. The times of war is compared with long winter when the land is covered by snow preventing people from enjoying bounties of nature.

Q4. Why does the poet say ‘their hands are ours’?

Ans. the poet means to say that the hands of people we consider as foreign do the same kind of work as we do.

Q5. Explain the extract – ‘and in their lines we read’.

Ans. Through their lines of writings and speech we can see that their thoughts are similar to ours. The lines in their faces also tell us that their labour that is the same as ours.


                                         The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evenings full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear the lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

                                                                                   William Butler Yeats

Photo by Mike B

About the poet – W.B.Yeats

W.B. Yeats (1865- 1939) was an Irish poet, writer and a dramatist. He was born in Sandymouth, Dublin in Ireland. Yeats received the Nobel Prize in1923. He moved to London when he was two, but spent much of his time in Siligo with his grandparents. Some of his famous poems are ‘The Second Coming’, ’Sailing to Byzanthium’, ‘The Stolen Child’, ’Easter 1916’ and ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’. In the last poem he speaks of his yearnings to go back to the peaceful place away from the humdrum of city-life to lead life in solitude. However, in reality, Lake Isle of Innisfree is an uninhabited island within Lough Gill, in Ireland. Yeats spent his summers near that place as a child, and was familiar with the surroundings.


In this lyrical poem the poet W.B. Yeats speaks of his nostalgia for Innisfree which he visited during his childhood. The poem starts with the poet’s declaration that he would return to Innisfree and build a simple cabin with clay and twisted sticks, or wattles. He also plans to plant seven rows of beans, and have a bee-hive for honey, which would help him to sustain. In this stanza he speaks of his physical needs which he would fulfil by nurturing nature with meditative labour. He wants to lead a solitary life in the cabin surrounded by meadows, and listen to the  humming of bees which would create an atmosphere of peace and serenity.

In the second stanza, he speaks of spiritual fulfilment which comes through prolonged communion with nature. He says that peace seeps in slowly into our patient minds. He likens the process of meditative contentment with that of a peaceful morning, when the mist lifts slowly to reveal a morning with crickets chirping in a serene atmosphere. At night, the night sky full of twinkling stars would fill him with pleasure and the purple glow of the afternoon sun would spread an aura of tranquillity. The evening sky would be filled with linnets intercepting each other in their last flight before settling down for the day. All these would bring in profound contentment that the poet is desirous of.

The last stanza reflects the poets yearning to break the ties of mundane city-life and go back to Innisfree. He desires to go back to the island and live a peaceful life as he hears the sound of water splashing on the shore all the time in his mind. The mundane urban life, with its grey pavements, roads and all its hustle and bustle, chokes his mind and heart. He wishes to break away from the city life and return to a simple life in the lap of nature where he would be able to enjoy its material as well as spiritual bounties.


wattles: twisted sticks for making fences, walls

glade: clearing; open space in wood or forest

linnet: a small brown and grey bird with a short beak

pavements – a raised asphalted path at the side of the road

glitter – shimmering reflected light

lapping – (here) splashing or slapping of water on land

Literary devices in ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

Alliteration – Repetition of consonant sound in closely placed words.

Hive for the honeybee – repetition of ‘h’ sound

Lake water lapping with low – repetition of ‘l’ sound

Hear…deep hearts core- repetition of ‘h’ sound

Repetition  – use of same words or phrases for sake of emphasis.

‘I will arise and go now’ – repeated in stanza 1 and 3. (These lines are linked to the Bible –  “ I will arise and  go to my father.” (Luke 15:18)

Personification – giving human characteristics to non-living objects.

Morning -has been personified, as she lifts her veil of mist to reveal her bright face.

Assonance – repetition of vowel sound.

Gonow and go to – repetition of ‘o’ sound

Metaphor – indirect comparison between two objects or ideas to denote similarity.

Veils of the morning -the white mists of the morning are compared to a lady’s veil

Onomatopoeia – a word that represents the sound it makes.

Lapping – the word represents the sound it is making.

Anaphora – Repetition of same words at the beginning of phrases, clauses or sentences.

I will arise

I hear  the – repetition of the word ‘I’ in lines 9 and 10

Thinking about the Poem

Question –Answers of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

I. 1. What kind of place is Innisfree?

Ans. Innisfree is an island in Ireland. It is a beautiful place, where nature is in its full swing.

Think about:

(i) the three things the poet wants to do when he goes back there (stanza I);

Ans. The poet wants to build a cabin using clay and wattles.

He wants to plant nine rows of beans.

He wants a hive for honeybees to help him lead a simple life in tranquil surroundings.

 (ii) what he hears and sees there and its effect on him (stanza II);

Ans. The poet sees meadows around his cabin and hears the sonorous humming of bees. He listens to the singing of the crickets as the mist rises like a veil to reveal a pleasant morning.  He sees the night sky glittering with twinkling stars, the purplish glow of the afternoon sun, and a sky full of linnets flitting across the sky in the evening.

(iii) what he hears in his “heart’s core” even when he is far away from Innisfree (stanza III).

Ans. Deep down in his heart, the poet hears the lapping of water on the shores of Innisfree even when he is standing on the grey pavements of the dull city.

2. By now you may have concluded that Innisfree is a simple, natural place, full of beauty and peace. How does the poet contrast it with where he now stands? (Read stanza III.)

Ans. The natural beauty of Innisfree which symbolises blissful life; is contrasted with the busy roads and dull grey pavements of the city, which symbolises sadness, decay and death. Innisfree is full of natural beauty and tranquility where the poet can listen to the pleasant songs of birds and insects. Innisfree is pollution- free unlike the city which is noisy and full of pollution of every kind.

3. Do you think Innisfree is only a place, or a state of mind? Does the poet actually miss the place of his boyhood days?

Ans. In my opinion the natural beauty of Innisfree is not a creation of the poet’s fancy.  It is a real island in Ireland which the poet used to visit in his childhood. Though it is an uninhabited island in reality, it caught the poet’s fancy when he was a child and he longs to live in such a peaceful place full of nature’s beauty. It is an island which gives solace to the poet’s frustrated mind.

The poet actually misses his boyhood days. He desires to go back to that place with such intensity that it has become a symbol of escape from the harsh realities of life. To him, the isle of Innisfree is a   place of respite from the stressful, mundane city life and a haven for the disturbed soul.

II. 1. Look at the words the poet uses to describe what he sees and hears at Innisfree
(i) bee-loud glade

These words create an image of a meadow that is full of bees humming all around. The poet has used auditory imagery to help the readers hear the buzzing of bees in a peaceful atmosphere.

(ii) evenings full of the linnet’s wings

Linnet is a small grey and brown bird with a small beak. It is known for its beautiful wings which is most visible as the hover around in the sky in the evenings. There flight had left an unforgettable impression on the poets mind and he wishes to experience it again in Innisfree.

(iii) lake water lapping with low sounds

With these words the poet has created an auditory image of the lake water brushing gently on the shoreline of Innisfree. The sound is low because the water is splashing quietly on the shore; and also because it is a faint memory from the distant past. In contrast, his present desire to relive the pleasant days is extremely strong.

Q. What pictures do these words create in your mind?

2. Look at these words;

… peace comes dropping slow

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings

Q. What do these words mean to you? What do you think “comes dropping slow…from the veils of the morning”? What does “to where the cricket sings” mean?

The words tell us that peace is something that is acquired slowly when we are in natural surroundings and living a life that is in harmony with nature. It is not something that could be achieved through instant gratification.

 Peace of mind comes slowly bit by bit only when we are in tune with nature. It comes day after day as the morning mist rises like a veil revealing a morning full of aesthetic beauty.

Through the phrase “ to where the cricket sings” poet implies that we can get peace living a solitary life in the lap of nature where the morning begins with the vibrant but melodious sounds like the singing of crickets.

Message of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

The poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, gives us the message that true peace of mind can be achieved only when we are living a life that is in harmony with nature.  So, to lead a peaceful life we must return to nature. Peace seeps in slowly in our lives when we are living in natural surroundings which provide all the elements that are required to live a peaceful life. In contrast, the bleak life in cities is full of stress, pollution and ugliness from which the poet desperately wants to escape.

Theme of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

The theme of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ is ‘Return to Nature’. The poet contrasts the idylic peaceful life in nature with the bleak mundane life in cities. The poem makes us realise that the peaceful life that we crave for cannot be achieved in cities which are full of stress, pollution and ugliness.

Rhyme scheme of ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’

All the three stanzas of the poem ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ follow the rhyme scheme ‘abab’. It is written mostly in hexameter.


Health is the greatest gift, contentment

the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best



My Childhood: Summary, Question Answers

                                                     My Childhood

  (An extract from A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s autobiography ‘Wings of Fire’)

About the author –  A.P.J Abdul Kalam(1931- 2015)

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam , also known as the ‘Missile Man’ of India was an aerospace scientist and the 11th President of India. He won the ‘Bharat Ratna’,’Padma Bhushan’, ‘Hoover Medal’,’Veer Sarvakar Award and several other awards. Some of his famous books are – ‘Wings of Fire’, ‘ Ignited Minds’, ‘ ‘ My Journey : Transforming Dreams into Actions’.  ‘Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges’. He encouraged students to think scientifically and to learn the art of  giving.

SUMMARY of ‘My Childhood – by A.P.J Abdul Kalam’

 In this extract Abdul Kalam talks about his childhood experiences which carved his future. Abdul Kalam was born on 15th October, 1931 to a middle class muslim family in the temple town of Rameshwaram. His father Jainulabdeen was not much educated but was wise and honest. He did not belive in luxury but provided his children a secure childhood.  His mother Aishiamma was his father’s strong support and was a loving and kind-hearted person. Abdul Kalam inherited honesty from his father and goodness and kindness from his mother.

When he was eight the Second World War started and there was a sudden demand for tamarind seeds. Abdul Kalam collected and sold the seeds for one anna to a store on Mosque Street. Later when the train stopped halting at the Rameswaram station he helped his cousin Samsuddin to catch newspaper bundles and earned his first wage from him.

Abdul Kalam’schildhood friends were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Shivaprakashan. Ramanadha Shastry was the son of the head priest of Rameswaram temple and took the priesthood when he grew up. Aravindan took up the business of arranging transport for pilgrims and Sivaprakashan became a catering contractor for Southern Railways.

When he was in the fifth standard a new teacher made him sit at the last bench; when he saw him sitting with the head priest’s son Ramanadha Sastry. This hurt the feelings of the two boys’ and Laxmana Sastry, the head priest, made the teacher apologise for teaching intolerance among children. He influenced the new teacher’s thoughts and reformed his ways.

His family and friends did not distinguish on the basis of social differences. His family prepared boats to carry the idols during Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony. He grew up listening to stories from Ramayana and life of Prophet which were told by his grandmother and mother.

His Science teacher Sivasubhramania Iyre taught him to overcome social barriers by inviting him to his house for lunch. Sivasubhramania Iyre’s wife, who was a conservative Hindu refused to serve him food in her pure kitchen. Sivasubhramania Iyre served him food himself and sat down by him to have their lunch, thereby setting an example of equality. The next time Kalam was invited, Sivasubhramania Iyre’s wife took him to the kitchen and served him food with her own hands.

With the end of the Second World War, Abdul Kalam decided to go to the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram for higher studies. His father encouraged him by saying that sea gulls fly across the sea alone without a nest, implying that success could be achieved solely through individual endeavours.  His mother was reluctant to let him go, therefore his father pacified her by quoting from the poem ‘Your Children’ by Khalil Gibran. The lines from the poem meant that each child has his or her own thoughts and their own life to live. Parents should not impose their thoughts on them and impede their development.  

I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each.- My Childhood
1. Where was Abdul Kalam’s house?

Ans. A.P.J Abdul Kalam lived in a fairly big house made of limestone and brick, located on the Mosque Street in Rameswaram during his childhood

2. What do you think Dinamani is the name of? Give a reason for your answer.

Ans Dinamani is the name of a Tamil newspaper.

I think it is a newspaper because Abdul Kalam searched for news headlines about the second world war.

3. Who were Abdul Kalam’s school friends? What did they later become?

Ans. Abdul Kalam’s friends were Ramanadha Sastry, Aravindan and Sivsprakashan.

Ramanadha Sastry took over the priesthood of Rameshwaram temple. Aravindan  became a businessman and arranged transport for pilgrims, and Sivsprakashan became a catering contractor for the Southern railways.

4. How did Abdul Kalam earn his first wages?

Ans. Abdul Kalam earned his first wage by catching newspaper bundles for his cousin Samsuddin. The bundles were thrown out of the train on the Rameswaram Road between Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi.

5. Had he earned any money before that? In what way?

Ans. Yes he did. There was a sudden rise in demand for tamarind seeds during the Second World War, so Abdul Kalam collected them and sold them for one anna to a shop on Mosque Street.

II. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words) – My Childhood
1. How does the author describe:
 (i) his father, (ii) his mother, (iii) himself?


  • his father – The author describes his father, Jainulabdeen, as an austere person who avoided unnecessary luxury. He provided his family with everything that was necessary, like food, clothes and medicine. He was not educated but was honest, generous and wise.
  • (ii) his mother – He describes his mother as a kind hearted person who supported her husband and was a protective and understanding mother.
  • (iii) himself – He portrays himself as a short boy with rather undistinguished looks, born to tall and handsome parents.
2. What characteristics does he say he inherited from his parents?

Ans. He inherited kindness and faith in goodness from his mother. Honesty and self-discipline from his father.

III. Discuss these questions in class with your teacher and then write down your answers in two or three paragraphs each. – My Childhood
1. “On the whole, the small society of Rameswaram was very rigid in terms of the segregation of different social groups,” says the author.
(i) Which social groups does he mention? Were these groups easily identifiable (for example, by the way they dressed)?

Ans. The social groups mentioned by Abdul Kalam were mainly the religious groups consisting of Hindus and Muslims.

Yes, the Hindu Brahmins could be identified by their sacred threads, and the Muslims through their caps.

(ii) Were they aware only of their differences or did they also naturally share friendships and experiences? (Think of the bedtime stories in Kalam’s house; of who his friends were; and of what used to take place in the pond near his house.)

Ans. Though there were people in the society, like the new teacher, who created differences; Abdul Kalam and his Hindu friends shared a strong bond and shared their experiences. Kalam grew up listening to stories from Ramayan and the life of Prophet from his mother and grandmother. His family arranged boats for carrying the idols during the Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam ceremony.

(iii) The author speaks both of people who were very aware of the differences among them and those who tried to bridge these differences. Can you identify such people in the text?

Ans. People like the new teacher who came to their class in the fifth standard and made Kalam sit in the last bench and Sivasubhramania Iyre’s wife, who refused to serve him food, were the ones who created differences on the basis of religion.

There were also people who tried to bridge the differences like the high priest Lakshmana Sastry, who admonished the young teacher  and asked him to apologise for sowing seeds of social inequality and communal intolerance in the minds of young children. His science teacher,  Sivasubhramania Iyre served food to Kalam with his own hands when his wife refused to do so, and finally reformed her.

(iv) Narrate two incidents that show how differences can be created, and also how they can be resolved. How can people change their attitudes?

Ans.  The first incident occured in Rameshwaram Elementary School when Kalam was in the fifth standard. A new teacher came in the class and found Kalam sitting in the first bench with Ramanadha Sastry. While Kalam wore the cap which marked him as muslim, Ramanadha Sastry wore the sacred thread which marked him as muslim. He ordered Kalam to sit on the last bench which hurt their feelings. Ramanadha’s father the head priest Laksmana Sastry scolded the teacher and made him apologise for his actions, which ultimately reformed him.

The second incident mentioned by Kalam was when his science teacher Sivasubhramania Iyre invited him for lunch. His wife, who was a conservative Hindu woman and was shocked to see a muslim boy being invited to dine in her ritually pure kitchen. When she refused to serve him food, Sivasubhramania Iyre served Kalam with his own hands which reformed his wife.  The next time he was invited, Sivasubhramania Iyre’s wife took him inside the kitchen and served the food herself.

2. (i) Why did Abdul Kalam want to leave Rameswaram?

Ans. Abdul Kalam left Rameshwaram to study at the district headquarters in Ramanathapuram.

(ii) What did his father say to this?

Ans. His father encouraged him to go for further studies  by saying that sea gulls flew across the sun alone, without a nest. He consoled his hesitant mother by quoting from Khalil Gibran. 

(iii) What do you think his words mean? Why do you think he spoke those words?

Ans. When Kalam’s father Jainulabdeen gave the example of the sea gull he possibly wanted to say that if  Kalam wanted to have success in life and fly high, he would have to do so with his own efforts even if it meant being alone away from home. By quoting from Gibran’s poetry ‘Your Children’, he wanted their mother to know that each life in this earth has been born to live their own lives. It would not be wise to keep them sheltered and prevent them from reaching their potential.

He spoke these words to encourage Abdul Kalam to pursue higher studies in Ramanathapuram.

Glossary – My Childhood

Austere- simple

Secure – safe

Materially – in terms of material things like food, shelter, clothes

Emotionally – taking care of feelings

Princely sum- an amount fit for a prince (here it is used ironically)

Isolated – cut off,

Allied forces – armies of U.K., U.S.A and Russia during 2nd W.War

Suspension – pausing of train stoppage for some time

Slot – opening

Orthodox– one who has strict views

Could not stomach – could not digest the fact, could not tolerate

Downcast– looking down sadly

Summoned – called

Bluntly – speaking honestly even if it offends others

Apologize – to ask for forgiveness

Quit – leave

Conviction – strong belief

Convey – tell something to someone

Rigid – strict

Segregation – division, separation

Conservative– one who believes in tradition and dislikes change

Rebel– one who refuses to accept rules as he wants change

Mingle – to mix with others

On par – at the same level as others

ritually pure – clean and undefiled as per tradition

perturbed – upset

Thinking about Language – My Childhood
I. Find the sentences in the text where these words occur:
erupt           surge           trace        undistinguished         casualty

Erupt – ‘a sudden demand for tamarind seeds erupted in the market

Trace – ‘I would later attempt to trace in the headlines in Dinamani.’

Surge –‘ I can still feel the surge of pride in earning my own money for the first time.’

Undistinguished –‘ I was one of many children — a short boy with rather undistinguished looks,’

Casualty –‘ The first casualty came in the form of the suspension of the train halt at Rameswaram station.’

I. Find the meanings of these words:

i)   erupt  – (here) to start suddenly

ii)  surge – a sudden strong movement or feeling

iii) trace –  (here) Try to find out

iv) undistinguished – unexceptional

v)  casualty – (here) something  badly affected by a situation.

Look these words up in a dictionary which gives examples of how they are used.

Now answer the following questions.

1. What are the things that can erupt? Use examples to explain the various

meanings of erupt.

Ans. Some of the things that can erupt are: riots, violent protests, volcanoes, emotions, anger.

A universal protest against the administration erupted across Sri Lanka.

The active volcanoe erupted suddenly causing panic among the inhabitants of that area.

Now do the same for the word surge. What things can surge?

Ans.  Things that can surge are: energy, storm, emotions, prices, wave, popularity, crowd,

Prices of essential commodities surge during the festive season.

A surge of waves inundated the surrounding areas during the flash foods in Himachal.

2. What are the meanings of the word trace and which of the meanings is closest to the word in the text?

Ans . There are several meanings of ‘trace’ used in different context.

  1. to copy
  2. to draw an outline
  3. to find out

In the text ‘trace’ means ‘to find out’.

3. Can you find the word undistinguished in your dictionary? (If not, look up the word distinguished and say what undistinguished must mean.)

Ans. Yes. ‘undistinguished’ means unexceptional or without any distinct or specific difference.

II. 1. Match the phrases in Column A with their meanings in Column B.- My Childhood
1(i) broke out(c) began suddenly in a violent way  
2(ii) in accordance with(f) according to a particular rule, principle, or system  
3(iii) a helping hand(d) assistance  
4(iv) could not stomach(b) was not able to tolerate  
5(v) generosity of spirit(a) an attitude of kindness, a readiness to give freely  
6(vi) figures of authority(e) persons with power to make decisions  
2. Study the words in italics in the sentences below. They are formed by prefixing un – or in – to their antonyms (words opposite in meaning).

• I was a short boy with rather undistinguished looks. (un + distinguished)

• My austere father used to avoid all inessential comforts.(in + essential)

• The area was completely unaffected by the war.(un + affected)

• He should not spread the poison of social inequality and communal intolerance. (in + equality, in + tolerance)

Now form the opposites of the words below by prefixing un– or in-. The prefix in can also have the forms il-, ir-, or im– (for example: illiterate il + literate,

impractical im + practical, irrational ir + rational). You may consult a dictionary if you wish.


III. Passive Voice

Study these sentences:

• My parents were regarded as an ideal couple.

• I was asked to go and sit on the back bench.

• Such problems have to be confronted.

The italicised verbs in these sentences are made up of a form of the verb be and a past participle. (For example: were + regarded, was + asked, be + confronted)

These sentences focus on what happens, rather than who does what. Notice that the doer of the action is not included in the sentences.

If necessary, we can mention the doer of the action in a by-phrase. For example:

• The tree was struck by lightning.

• The flag was unfurled by the Chief Guest.

IV. Rewrite the sentences below, changing the verbs in brackets into the passive form. -My Childhood

1. In yesterday’s competition the prizes (give away) by the Principal.

2. In spite of financial difficulties, the labourers (pay) on time.

3. On Republic Day, vehicles (not allow) beyond this point.

4. Second-hand books (buy and sell) on the pavement every Saturday.

5. Elections to the Lok Sabha (hold) every five years.

6. Our National Anthem (compose) Rabindranath Tagore.


1. In yesterday’s competition the prizes was given away by the Principal.

2. In spite of financial difficulties, the labourers were paid on time.

3. On Republic Day, vehicles are not allowed beyond this point.

4. Second-hand books are bought and sold on the pavement every Saturday.

5. Elections to the Lok Sabha are held every five years.

6. Our National Anthem was composed by Rabindranath Tagore.

V. Rewrite the paragraphs below, using the correct form of the verb given in brackets.

1. How Helmets Came To Be Used in Cricket

Nari Contractor was the Captain and an opening batsman for India in the 1960s. The Indian cricket team went on a tour to the West Indies in 1962. In a match against Barbados in Bridgetown, Nari Contractor (seriously injure and collapse). In those days helmets (not wear). Contractor (hit) on the head by a bouncer from Charlie Griffith. Contractor’s skull (fracture). The entire team (deeply concern). The West Indies players (worry). Contractor (rush ) to hospital. He (accompany) by Frank Worrell, the Captain of the West Indies Team. Blood (donate) by the West Indies players. Thanks to the timely help, Contractor (save). Nowadays helmets (routinely use) against bowlers.


Nari Contractor was the Captain and an opening batsman for India in the 1960s. The Indian cricket team went on a tour to the West Indies in 1962. In a match against Barbados in Bridgetown, Nari Contractor was seriously injured and collapsed. In those days helmets were not worn. Contractor was hit on the head by a bouncer from Charlie Griffith. Contractor’s skull was fractured. The entire team was deeply concerned. The West Indies players were worried. Contractor was rushed  to hospital. He was accompanied  by Frank Worrell, the Captain of the West Indies Team. Blood was donated by the West Indies players. Thanks to the timely help, Contractor was saved. Nowadays helmets are routinely used against bowlers.

2. Oil from Seeds

Vegetable oils (make) from seeds and fruits of many plants growing all over the world, from tiny sesame seeds to big, juicy coconuts. Oil (produce) from cotton seeds, groundnuts, soya beans and sunflower seeds. Olive oil (use) for cooking, salad dressing etc. Olives (shake) from the trees and (gather) up, usually by hand. The olives (ground) to a thick paste which is spread onto special mats. Then the mats (layer) up on the pressing machine which will gently squeeze them to produce olive oil.


Vegetable oils are made from seeds and fruits of many plants growing all over the world, from tiny sesame seeds to big, juicy coconuts. Oil is produced from cotton seeds, groundnuts, soya beans and sunflower seeds. Olive oil is used for cooking, salad dressing etc. Olives are shaken from the trees and gathered up, usually by hand. The olives are ground to a thick paste which is spread onto special mats. Then the mats are layered up on the pressing machine which will gently squeeze them to produce olive oil.


To Sir, with Love

1. From Rameswaram to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, it’s been a long journey. Talking to Nona Walia on the eve of Teacher’s Day, President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam talks about life’s toughest lessons learnt and his mission — being a teacher to the Indian youth. “A proper education would help nurture a sense of dignity and self-respect among our youth,” says President Kalam. There’s still a child in him though, and he’s still curious about learning new things. Life’s a mission for President Kalam.

2. Nonetheless, he remembers his first lesson in life and how it changed his destiny. “I was studying in Standard V, and must have been all of 10. My teacher, Sri Sivasubramania Iyer was telling us how birds fly. He drew a diagram of a bird on the blackboard, depicting the wings, tail and the body with the head and then explained how birds soar to the sky. At the end of the class, I said I didn’t understand. Then he asked the other students if they had understood, but nobody had understood how birds fly,” he recalls.

3. “That evening, the entire class was taken to Rameswarm shore,” the President continues. “My teacher showed us sea birds. We saw marvellous formations of them flying and how their wings flapped. Then my teacher asked us, ‘Where is the birds’ engine and how is it powered?’ I knew then that birds are powered by their own life and motivation. I understood all about birds’ dynamics. This was real teaching — a theoretical lesson coupled with a live practical example. Sri Siva Subramania Iyer was a great teacher.”

That day, my future was decided. My destiny was changed. I knew my future had to be about flight and flight systems.

A LEGEND OF NORTHLAND, Summary, Literary Devices, Question Answers

The Poem-

A legend of Northland

Away, away in the Northland,

Where the hours of the day are few,

And the nights are so long in winter

That they cannot sleep them through;


Where they harness the swift reindeer

To the sledges, when it snows;

And the children look like bear’s cubs

In their funny, furry clothes:


They tell them a curious story —

I don’t believe ’tis true;

And yet you may learn a lesson

If I tell the tale to you.


Once, when the good Saint Peter

Lived in the world below,

And walked about it, preaching,

Just as he did, you know,


He came to the door of a cottage,

In travelling round the earth,

Where a little woman was making cakes,

And baking them on the hearth;


And being faint with fasting,

For the day was almost done,

He asked her, from her store of cakes,

To give him a single one.


So she made a very little cake,

But as it baking lay,

She looked at it, and thought it seemed

Too large to give away.


Therefore she kneaded another,

And still a smaller one;

But it looked, when she turned it over,

As large as the first had done.


Then she took a tiny scrap of dough,

And rolled and rolled it flat;

And baked it thin as a wafer —

But she couldn’t part with that.


For she said, “My cakes that seem too small

When I eat of them myself

Are yet too large to give away.”

So she put them on the shelf.


Then good Saint Peter grew angry,

For he was hungry and faint;

And surely such a woman

Was enough to provoke a saint.


And he said, “You are far too selfish

To dwell in a human form,

To have both food and shelter,

And fire to keep you warm.


Now, you shall build as the birds do,

And shall get your scanty food

By boring, and boring, and boring,

All day in the hard, dry wood.”


Then up she went through the chimney,

Never speaking a word,

And out of the top flew a woodpecker,

For she was changed to a bird.


She had a scarlet cap on her head,

And that was left the same;

But all the rest of her clothes were burned

Black as a coal in the flame.


And every country schoolboy

Has seen her in the wood,

Where she lives in the trees till this very day,

Boring and boring for food.

                                                                         Phoebe Cary

About the poetPhoebe Cary

Phoebe Cary(1824-1871) was an American poet. She along with her sister Alice Cary published their poems jointly in 1850 – ‘Poems of Alice and Phoebe Carey. Later she individually published her work in ‘Poems and Parodies’ and ‘Poems of Faith, Hope and Love’.

Synopsis – A legend of Northland

The poem originates in the northern part of the Northern hemisphere near the poles, where the days are short and the nights are so long that people have to get up in the darkness for work.

The people in Northland use reindeer to pull their sledges during the snowy winters and children look like bear–cubs in their fur clothes.

The poet says that in the Northland there is a legend that goes around which, according to the poet, might not be a true story. However, he thinks that the story might teach the readers some lesson- so he narrates it to his readers in the form of a ballad.

He says that the story belongs to the time when Saint Peter, who was an apostle of Jesus, was alive and went around the world preaching the teachings of Lord Jesus.

One day while teaching in Northland, he came to a cottage where a little woman was busy making cakes in the fireplace.

St. Peter had been fasting throughout the day and felt hungry and weak at the end of the day, therefore he requested the little woman to give him a single piece of cake from her store of cakes.

The miserly woman thought that the cakes that she had were too big to be given away for free, so she baked a very small cake. But after baking was done, the cake began to look too big to be given away.

She therefore, made a smaller cake for St. Peter but it looked as big as the first cake when she turned it over. Her greed created an illusion in her mind and made it look too big to be given away in charity.

The woman then took a very small amount of dough to make an even smaller cake and rolled it till it was as thin as a wafer. However, the selfish woman could not give it away when it was baked.

She wondered why those very same cakes that seemed too small when she ate them appeared too big to be given to others. Her selfishness knew no limits and she decided to let Saint Peter suffer in hunger and hoarded even the thinnest of cakes on the shelf.

Though Saint Peter was kind-hearted, but the extreme heartlessness of the little woman incited his anger. Despite St. Peter’s fatigue and starvation, the pitiless woman could not give him even a scrap of food although she had stored plenty of them.

Saint Peter remarked that the woman did not deserve to live in a human form and enjoy food, shelter and fire as she lacked humane qualities of kindness, empathy and charity.

He cursed her by telling, that the woman would be turned into a bird and would have to bore into the hard, dry wood for her meagre food.

In an instant, the woman went through the chimney without a word, and flew out of it in the form of a woodpecker.

All her clothes were burnt coal-black in the chimney fire, except for her scarlet red scarf which was spared from burning. She is now a woodpecker with a black feathers and a patch of red on her head.

She is often seen by country schoolboys, flying in the woods, where she still stays and bores throughout the day for her scanty food.

Word- meanings in in A legend of Northland

Legend – old traditional story

Saint Peter – an apostle of Christ (disciple)

Sledge – vehicle pulled by draught animals in snow

swift – fast

curious – strange

preaching – (here) religious teachings

hearth – fire-place for cooking

kneaded – turning flour into dough

provoke: incite anger or make angry

dwell – live

scanty – very little

boring – (here) drilling hole

scarlet – bright red

country – countryside, rural areas

Literary Devices in ‘A legend of Northland

Assonance – (repetition of vowel sound)

Stanza 1 – ‘Away, away’

Alliteration- (repetition of consonant sound)

The poet has used alliteration throughout the poem

Stanza 1- ‘that – they’, ‘them- through’

Stanza 2- ‘they-the’, ‘look-like’, ‘funny-furry’

Stanza 3- ‘they- them’, ‘yet-you’, ‘learn-lesson’, ‘tell-tale’

Stanza 5- ‘woman-was’, ‘them-the’

Stanza 6- ‘faint-fasting’

Stanza 8- ‘still-smaller’

Stanza 9- ‘took-tiny’

Stanza 10- ‘seem-small’

Stanza 13- ‘build-birds’, ‘by-boring-boring-boring’, ‘day-dry’

Stanza 15- ‘her-head’

Stanza 16- ‘trees-till-this’

Repetition– (repeating words for emphasis)

Stanza 1 – ‘Away-away’

Stanza 9- ‘rolled and rolled’

Stanza 13- ‘boring, and boring, and boring’

Stanza 16- ‘boring and boring’

Simile – (Comparing things using ‘like’ or ‘as’)

Stanza 2 – ‘Children look like bear’s cubs’

Stanza 9- ‘baked it as thin as wafer’

Stanza 15 –‘clothes were burnt as black as coal’

Irony – (Expressing something that is opposite to the actual thing)

Stanza 10- “My cakes that seem so small when I eat them myself are yet too large to give away.”

Thinking about the Poem – Questions and answers of A legend of Northland

I. 1. Which country or countries do you think “the Northland” refers to?

Ans. ‘The Northland’ possibly refers to a country in the polar region of the northern hemisphere.

2. What did Saint Peter ask the old lady for? What was the lady’s reaction?

Ans.  Being tired after preaching through the day, Saint Peter asked the old lady to give him a single cake.

 The lady was reluctant to give him the cake and decided to bake him a smaller cake. Every time she backed one it seemed too big to be given away, so she baked a smaller one yet.

3. How did he punish her?

Ans. St. Peter decided that the old woman was too selfish to live a life of a human being and enjoy food, shelter, fire and comfort.  Therefore he decided to punish her by turning her into a woodpecker which would have to work hard for food by boring and boring into the dry and hard wood. 

4. How does the woodpecker get her food?

Ans. The woodpecker gets its food by boring all day long into the hard dry wood.

5. Do you think that the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was? What would she have done then?

Ans.  In my opinion, if the old lady had known about St. Peter’s true identity as an apostle of Christ, she would have been more generous.

She would possibly have given him the biggest cake as she would have wanted to receive his blessings for fulfilling her greed.

6. Is this a true story? Which part of this poem do you feel is the most important?

Ans. No, it is not a true story but a legend that has been passed through generations as a moral story. The intention of the story is to teach people to be generous human beings.

According to me, the most important part of the story is where the little lady gets turned into a woodpecker for her selfishness. She no longer possesses the comforts of food, shelter and fire.  As a woodpecker, she has to bore continuously into the hard, dry wood even for the tiniest scrap of food.

7. What is a legend? Why is this poem called a legend?

Ans.  A legend is an old traditional story that is popularly regarded as historical but lacks authenticity.

This poem has been called a legend because it has been passed on from one generation to the other for teaching generosity and charity as its moral. It has supernatural elements like a woman being turned into a woodpecker for being selfish and lacking compassion. The origin of the story cannot be authenticated.

8. Write the story of ‘A Legend of the Northland’ in about ten sentences.

Ans.  A long time ago, when St. Peter was alive. He went to Northland for preaching and after a day’s fasting reached a cottage where a little woman was baking a cake. He was faint with hunger and therefore asked the woman to give him a piece of cake. The selfish woman did not give any cake from her store of cakes as she thought they were too big to be given away. She decided to bake a small cake for the visitor and baked smaller and smaller cakes till it was thin as wafer. She was too selfish to part with even the wafer like cake which provoked the anger of St. Peter, whose curse turned her into a woodpecker for her lack of charity. He said that humans should be grateful for the food, shelter and fire that they enjoy and should have compassion for fellow beings. The selfish woman now turned into a woodpecker has to bore holes in the hard, dry wood for even a little bit of food.  She can be seen among the trees boring and boring for food all day long.

II. 1. Let’s look at the words at the end of the second and fourth lines, viz., ‘snows’

and ‘clothes’, ‘true’ and ‘you’, ‘below’ and ‘know.’ We find that ‘snows’ rhymes

with ‘clothes’, ‘true’ rhymes with ‘you’ and ‘below’ rhymes with ‘know’.

Find more such rhyming words – in A legend of Northland

‘earth’ and ‘hearth’

‘done’ and ‘one’

‘lay’ and ‘away’

‘flat’ and ‘that’

‘myself’ and ‘self’

‘faint’ and ‘saint’

‘form’ and ‘warm’

‘food’ and ‘wood’

‘word’ and ‘bird’

Q. What form of poetry is used in ‘A Legend of Northland’?

Ans.  ‘A Legend of the Northland’ is a ballad. A ballad is a song narrating a story in short stanzas. Ballads are a part of folk culture or popular culture and are passed on orally from one generation to the next.

Q. What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?

Ans. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ‘abcb’. The second line rhymes with the fourth line.

RAIN ON THE ROOF – Summary / Literary Devices/ Solutions

Rain on the Roof

                                         By Coates Kinney  

When the humid shadows hover

Over all the starry spheres

And the melancholy darkness

Gently weeps in rainy tears,

What a bliss to press the pillow

 Of a cottage-chamber bed

 And lie listening to the patter

 Of the soft rain overhead!


 Every tinkle on the shingles

 Has an echo in the heart;

And a thousand dreamy fancies

Into busy being start,

And a thousand recollections

Weave their air-threads into woof,

As I listen to the patter

Of the rain upon the roof.


 Now in memory comes my mother,

 As she used in years agone,

To regard the darling dreamers

Ere she left them till the dawn:

O! I feel her fond look on me

 As I list to this refrain

 Which is played upon the shingles

 By the patter of the rain.


About the poet -COATES KINNEY

Coates Kinney(24th Nov, 1826 – 25th January 1904)  was an American poet, journalist, lawyer and a polititian. He was born in Penn Yan, New York and studied in Antioch College. He became an established poet with the publication of his poem ‘Rain on the Roof’ written in six stanzas expressing his feelings on a rainy evening as memories flood his mind.

Summary- Rain on the Roof

This poem is about the poet’s nostalgia associated with rain falling on the roof. The first stanza, gives a description of the rain falling outside his house. The dark moisture laden clouds move around in the starry sky causing shadows on earth. The darkness which causes sadness seems to be weeping which results in its tears falling from the sky as rain. Then, the poet goes on to describe his feelings on such evenings. He says that it is a blessing to be able to lie in his warm bed in his cottage listening to the pitter–patter of the rain drops falling on the roof.

In the second stanza, he says that every drop of rain that falls on the tiles on his roof finds a reverberation or echo in his heart. As he lies on his bed, a lot of thoughts flow into his head making his mind busy. He recalls things from the past and goes into a reverie. His thoughts run across his mind interweaving and creating images from the past as he listens to the rainfall.

In the third stanza, the poet recalls and cherishes the memories of his mother. He says that the sound of the rain reminds him of the time, when his dear mother used to put him and his siblings to sleep. She used to look at them lovingly while tucking them to sleep. The continuous musical sound of the falling raindrops takes him to the past and he relives the golden moments of his childhood as he listens to the rain.

Message  of the poem: Rain on the Roof

The poem gives us the message that nature and rainfall has a therapeutic effect on humans. The sound of rain brings back beautiful memories from the past as the poet recalls the soothing affection of his mother’s presence during his childhood.

Theme of the poemRain on the Roof

The theme of the poem is the healing effect of nature on humans. Mother-nature, just like all mothers, has a soothing effect on humans. Listening to the musical refrain of the rainfall brings back the loving memories of the poet’s mother in whose presence he felt comfortable and secure.

Rhyme scheme of ‘Rain on the Roof’

The rhyme scheme of the poem is abcbdefe. The second and the fourth lines rhyme and the sixth and the eighth lines rhyme.

Literary devices used in ‘Rain on the Roof’

Alliteration –  (Repetition of the consonant sound)

                          humid clouds hover,

                         starry spheres

                         press the pillow

                         cottage- chamber


                         busy being

                         their air-threads

                         rain on the roof

                         memory comes my mother

                         darling dreamers

                         them till

Transferred epithet- ( When an adjective is used to describe a noun but it actually refers to another noun)

                        Melancholy darkness – here the darkness is not sad but the people are.

                        Dreamy fancies – here the person is dreamy and not the fancies.

Onomatopoiea – words formed from the sound it represents used for literary effect

                        Patter – sound of rain drops

                        Tinkle – sound of raindrops in the shingles or the tiles of the roof.

Personification – (human characteristics given to inanimate objects)

                        Darkness is melancholy and weeping like a sad person.

                        Recollections are weaving air-threads like a weaver.

Hyperbole –  (exaggerated statements)

                      a thousand recollections

                      a thousand dreamy fancies   

GlossaryRain on the Roof

humid: full of moisture

shadows: (here) moisture laden clouds which cause shadows

hover: move around something

melancholy: sad

bliss: happiness

patter: sound of raindrops

Cottage chamber: room in a cottage

tinkle: short, light ringing sounds

shingles: rectangular wooden tiles used on roofs

woof: weft, i.e. the threads woven across the loom

busy being: the poet refers to his busy mind

ere: old poetic word for ‘before’

refrain: a repeated part of a song or a poem; here, the sound of the rain

list: old poetic word for ‘listen’

Thinking about the Poem / Question- Answers Rain on the Roof

I. 1. What do the following phrases mean to you? Discuss in class.
(i) humid shadows

Humid shadows refer to the moisture laden dark clouds which cause shadows on the earth. It may also refer to the shadows of people and objects which become wet when the rain falls.

(ii) starry spheres

The starry spheres refer to the night sky full of stars. Sometimes they are seen in clusters twinkling in the night sky.

(iii) what a bliss

The poet feels happy when he listens to the raindrops falling on the roof as he relaxes in his cozy bed.

(iv) a thousand dreamy fancies into busy being start

When he listens to the sound of raindrops, numerous thoughts flow into his mind and he finds himself lost in sweet reveries from the past.

(v) a thousand recollections weave their air-threads into woof

The poet recollects numerous memories from the past as he hears the rain fall. He compares his interweaving of thoughts with a weft which is woven with colourful air- threads.

2. What does the poet like to do when it rains?

Ans. When it rains, the poet likes to lie on his bed pressing on his pillow, and listen to the pitter-patter of the raindrops falling on  the shingles of his cottage.

3. What is the single major memory that comes to the poet? Who are the “darling dreamers” he refers to?

Ans. The memory of his loving mother is the single major memory that comes to his mind. He recollects the sweet moments when he felt loved and secure under his mother’s shelter.

 The ‘darling dreamers’ refer to the poet and his siblings when they were children. It refers to the time when their mother lovingly put them to a relaxing sleep with sweet dreams till the dawn.

4. Is the poet now a child? Is his mother still alive?

Ans. No, the poet is no longer a child. He has become an adult.

His mother is possibly no longer alive and had died a long time ago. Her memories make him nostalgic and he misses her badly.

II. 1. When you were a young child, did your mother tuck you in, as the poet’s did?

Ans. Yes, my mother too used to tuck me lovingly to bed when I was a child, just like the poet’s mother.

2. Do you like rain? What do you do when it rains steadily or heavily as described in the poem?

Ans.  Yes, I love to see and hear the rainfall.

 I like to play indoor games and enjoy hot snacks and drinks when it rains outside.

3. Does everybody have a cosy bed to lie in when it rains? Look around you and describe how different kinds of people or animals spend time, seek shelter etc. during rain.

Ans. Unfortunately, everybody does not have the priviledge of lying in a cosy bed when it rains. The deprived  and the homeless suffer a lot when it rains. Birds and animals find it hard to find shelter from the rain and are seen soaked and shivering in the rain.

Q. Compare the poems ‘Rain on the Roof’ and ‘Wind’. What are the similarities and differences that you find in these two poems?

Ans. The poems ‘Rain on the Roof’ and ‘Wind’ are both based on nature. Both the poets have drawn inspiration from their past and reflected their thoughts in these poems.

The poems are different from the perspective from which the poets have viewed or perceived nature. While the rain evokes gentle memories and brings comfort to the poet, the wind is violent and destroys lives. While in the poem ‘Wind’ the poet advices the readers to be prepared against adversities, there is no such message conveyed through the poem ‘Rain on the Roof’.   

Rain on the Roof – (Full poem)

Coates Kinney

 When the humid shadows hover

 Over all the starry spheres

 And the melancholy darkness

 Gently weeps in rainy tears,

 What a bliss to press the pillow

 Of a cottage-chamber bed

 And lie listening to the patter

 Of the soft rain overhead!


  Every tinkle on the shingles

  Has an echo in the heart;

  And a thousand dreamy fancies

  Into busy being start,

  And a thousand recollections

  Weave their air-threads into woof,

  As I listen to the patter

  Of the rain upon the roof.


Now in memory comes my mother,

 As she used in years agone,

To regard the darling dreamers

Ere she left them till the dawn:

O! I feel her fond look on me

 As I list to this refrain

 Which is played upon the shingles

 By the patter of the rain.


Then my little seraph sister,

With the wings and waving hair,

And her star-eyed cherub brother

A serene angelic pair!

Glide around my wakeful pillow,

With their praise or mild reproof,

As I listen to the murmur

 Of the soft rain on the roof.


And another comes, to thrill me

With her eyes’ delicious blue;

And I mind not, musing on her,

That her heart was all untrue:

I remember but to love her

With a passion kin to pain,

And my heart’s quick pulses vibrate

To the patter of the rain.


Art hath naught of tone or cadence

That can work with such a spell

In the soul’s mysterious fountains,

Whence the tears of rapture well,

As that melody of nature,

That subdued, subduing strain

Which is played upon the shingles

By the patter of the rain.



Wind, come softly.

Don’t break the shutters of the windows.

Don’t scatter the papers.

Don’t throw down the books on the shelf.

There, look what you did — you threw them all down.

You tore the pages of the books.

You brought rain again.

You’re very clever at poking fun at weaklings.

Frail crumbling houses, crumbling doors, crumbling rafters,

crumbling wood, crumbling bodies, crumbling lives,

crumbling hearts —

the wind god winnows and crushes them all.

He won’t do what you tell him.

So, come, let’s build strong homes,

Let’s joint the doors firmly.

Practise to firm the body.

Make the heart steadfast.

Do this, and the wind will be friends with us.

The wind blows out weak fires.

He makes strong fires roar and flourish.

His friendship is good.

We praise him every day.

                                                 SUBRAMANIA BHARATI

                                           [translated from the Tamil by A.K. Ramanujan]

Subramania Bharati (1882–1921) is a great Tamil poet, famous for his patriotism in the pre-Independence era.

A.K. Ramanujan is a Kannada and English poet, well known for his translation of classical and modern poetry.


poking fun: making fun of

rafters: sloping beams supporting a roof

winnow: blow grain free of chaff; separate grain from husk by blowing on it


The poem begins with an entreaty to the wind, requesting him to come slowly without causing destruction. He requests him not to break the shutters of the windows, scatter the papers or throw down the books from the shelf. Then the poet addresses the wind and blames him for tearing books and bringing the rain again. The poet is vexed and thinks of the wind as someone cruel who takes pleasure in teasing and torturing the weak – destroying their property and crushing their hearts and lives. He says that the wind god blows harshly to winnow out the weak and destroy them. The poet then advices his readers that; since, the wind god would not work according to their bidding- it is they who should strengthen their own selves and their surroundings. They should build strong homes, firmly joint the doors and make their bodies strong and hearts steadfast. The wind favours the strong and bold, so once they make themselves strong – the wind will become their friend. The wind blows out weak fires and makes the strong ones flourish. So, his friendship is good once we are strong. It is because of this that we praise the wind god every-day.

Theme of the poem – Wind

The theme of the poem is facing the adversities of life by being prepared for them beforehand. The destructive power of the wind symbolizes the hardships that we face in life. By making ourselves strong we can make the challenges in our lives our friend and be successful in life.

Message of the poem – Wind

The poem gives us an important message that we must be prepared for the challenges of life. We should be physically fit and mentally strong in order to overcome the adversities of life. The hardships of life separate the strong from the weak and help the strong to flourish while crushing the weak ones. Nobody in the world cares for the weak so we must make ourselves strong in order to overcome the adversities of life and emerge as a winner.

Rhyme scheme of the poem – Wind

The poem is written in free verse and hence does not have a rhyme scheme.

Line by line explanation -poem Wind

Wind, come softly.

Don’t break the shutters of the windows.

Don’t scatter the papers.

Don’t throw down the books on the shelf.

There, look what you did — you threw them all down.

You tore the pages of the books.

You brought rain again.

The poet requests the wind to tread softly, so that nothing breaks or gets disturbed. He tells the wind not to break the shutters of the window, not to scatter the papers or make the books fall down from the shelf. But the wind is like a disobedient child and tears the pages of the books and brings the rain. The poet is vexed and blames the wind for the destruction he has done.

You’re very clever at poking fun at weaklings.

Frail crumbling houses, crumbling doors, crumbling rafters,

crumbling wood, crumbling bodies, crumbling lives,

crumbling hearts —

the wind god winnows and crushes them all

The poet says that the wind is cruel and he teases and destroys the weak. The word ‘crumbling has been used multiple times to emphasize the fact, that everything that is feeble, frail and weak crumbles in the face of strong wind. Weak houses, doors and beams of the roof fall down, and the weak hearts and lives are crushed in the violent destructive force of the wind. The poet implies that weak people break and fall in adverse times. The poet says that the wind god winnows people. Just as people winnow grains to separate it from the chaff, similarly the wind god winnows people to separate the strong people from the weak. He crushes the weak and makes them fall.

He won’t do what you tell him.

So, come, let’s build strong homes,

Let’s joint the doors firmly.

Practise to firm the body.

Make the heart steadfast.

The poet tells people that the wind god won’t act according to our bidding and hence to save ourselves from destruction we must build strong homes with firm doors to keep out the strong wind. We must make our bodies strong and our hearts firm in order to overcome the storms of life.

Do this, and the wind will be friends with us.

The wind blows out weak fires.

He makes strong fires roar and flourish.

His friendship is good.

We praise him every day

If we are strong and prepared we will find that the wind will become our friend. The wind favours the strong like everyone in the world. It will destroy us if the fire inside us is weak, but if it is strong the wind will help us to flourish and succeed in life. The poet ends by saying that friendship with the wind is good as it will help us to succeed and fly high in life. It is for this good quality that we praise the wind god every-day.

Literary Devices -poem Wind

Apostrophe – “Wind come softly…” (An inanimate object is directly being addressed by the poet)

Anaphora – ‘Don’t’ [in lines 2, 3, 4] and ‘You’ [in lines 6, 7, 8] (Repetition of the same word at the        beginning of lines)

Alliteration – ‘wind winnows’, ‘won’t want’ (Repetion of consonant sound)

Personification – “Don’t break the shutters…” (The wind is given characteristics of a human being)

Repetition – ‘Crumbling’ (it is repeated several times for emphasis)

Symbolism – The wind symbolizes the adversities in life.

Thinking about the Poem – Question /Answers

I. 1. What are the things the wind does in the first stanza?

Ans.  In the first stanza, the wind demonstrates its destructive behavior by breaking the shutters of windows, scattering papers, throwing down the books form the shelf, tearing their pages. It brings rain and destruction along with itself, poking fun at weaklings and crumbling them.

2. Have you seen anybody winnow grain at home or in a paddy field? What is the word in your language for winnowing? What do people use for winnowing? (Give the words in your language, if you know them.)

Ans. Yes, people in rural areas winnow grain to separate it from the chaff. Winnowing is known as ‘phatakana’.

People use ‘kulo’ or ‘soop’ made of wicker for winnowing in our country.

3. What does the poet say the wind god winnows?

Ans. The wind god winnows the people and separates the strong from the weak. The poet describes the wind god as cruel and destructive who likes poking fun at the weak and crushing them. Just as winnowing separates the grain from the chaff, similarly wind god blows away and destroys the weak and retains and helps the strong.

4. What should we do to make friends with the wind?

Ans. Wind favours the strong, so in order to be friends with the wind, one should be ready to withstand the destructive forces in life. We should make strong homes, practice to firm our bodies and make our minds steadfast.

5. What do the last four lines of the poem mean to you?

Ans. The last four lines describe the wind as someone, who favours the strong over the weak. It blows out weak fires implying that it likes to crumble the lives of the weaklings, but makes the strong fires flourish. Symbolically it means that strong people can withstand and bloom under the wind’s destructive embrace. It gives out the message that one must be ready to face the challenges of life in order to emerge victorious.

6. How does the poet speak to the wind — in anger or with humour? You must also have seen or heard of the wind “crumbling lives”. What is your response to this? Is it like the poet’s?

Ans. The wind has been personified in the poem and the poet bids the wind to come softly, but when the wind disobeys, the poet speaks to him in anger requesting him to stop the destruction.

Yes, often during cyclones the wind creates havoc by destroying lives and property. In those times I feel that humans are helpless against the forces of nature.

Like the poet, I too feel that the only option that humans have is to be prepared against adversities.

                           The tree on the mountain takes whatever the

                           weather brings. If it has any choice at all, it is in

                           putting down roots as deeply as possible.





Thinking about the Text

1. Here are some headings for paragraphs in the text.

Write the number(s) of the paragraph(s) for each title against the heading. The first one is done for you.

(i)  Einstein’s equation                                9 

(ii) Einstein meets his future wife               7

(iii)The making of a violinist                       3

(iv) Mileva and Einstein’s mother               10

(v) A letter that launched the arms race   15

(vi) A desk drawer full of ideas                   8

(vii) Marriage and divorce                          11

missive: letter, especially long and official

visionary: a person who can think about the future in an original and intelligent way

2. Who had these opinions about Einstein?

(i) He was boring.   – his playmates.                                      

(ii) He was stupid and would never succeed in life.- his headmaster.

(iii) He was a freak. – his mother

3. Explain what the reasons for the following are.

(i) Einstein leaving the school in Munich for good.

Ans. Einstein felt stifled because of the strict regimentation at the school and therefore left the school for good.

(ii) Einstein wanting to study in Switzerland rather than in Munich.

Ans. Einstein wished to study in German- speaking Switzerland as he felt that the city was much more liberal than Munich.

(iii) Einstein seeing in Mileva an ally.

Ans. They both had similar views and shared common interests; therefore, Eienstein saw Mileva as an ally against the philistines in his family and at the university.

(iv) What do these tell you about Einstein?

Ans. Einstein appears to be an creative, intelligent, independent minded person, who believed in the liberty of art, literature and music.

4. What did Einstein call his desk drawer at the patent office? Why?

Ans. Einstein used to call his desk drawer at the patent office as the “bureau of theoretical physics,’ he secretly began to develop his own ideas while he was supposed to be assessing other peoples inventions.

5. Why did Einstein write a letter to Franklin Roosevelt?

Ans. Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt warned him against the power of the atom bomb. He wrote that if it exploded in a port it would blow up the port along with some of its surrounding territory.

6. How did Einstein react to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Ans. Einstein was devastated by the extent of destruction after the bombings. He wrote a public missive to the U.N. proposing the formation of a world government. He got more involved in politics over the next decade and  used his fame to campaign for world peace and democracy. 

7. Why does the world remember Einstein as a “world citizen”?

Ans.  Einstein is remembered as a’ world citizen’ as he campaigned for world peace and democracy. He also involved himself deeply into politics in an effort to stop militarizing and building up of arms across the world.

8. Here are some facts from Einstein’s life. Arrange them in chronological order.

[7 ] Einstein publishes his special theory of relativity.

[9 ] He is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

[11 ] Einstein writes a letter to U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and

warns against Germany’s building of an atomic bomb.

[2] Einstein attends a high school in Munich.

[3] Einstein’s family moves to Milan.

[1] Einstein is born in the German city of Ulm.

[5] Einstein joins a university in Zurich, where he meets Mileva.

[12] Einstein dies.

[8] He provides a new interpretation of gravity.

[4] Tired of the school’s regimentation, Einstein withdraws from school.

[6] He works in a patent office as a technical expert.

[10] When Hitler comes to power, Einstein leaves Germany for the United


Thinking about Language

I. Here are some sentences from the story. Choose the word from the brackets which can be substituted for the italicised words in the sentences.

1. A few years later, the marriage faltered.- became weak

 (failed, broke, became weak).

2. Einstein was constantly at odds with people at the university.- in disagreement

 (on bad terms, in disagreement, unhappy)

3. The newspapers proclaimed his work as “a scientific revolution.”- declared

 (declared, praised, showed)

4. Einstein got ever more involved in politics, agitating for an end to the arms buildup.-campaigning

 (campaigning, fighting, supporting)

5. At the age of 15, Einstein felt so stifled that he left the school for good.- permanently

(permanently, for his benefit, for a short time)

6. Five years later, the discovery of nuclear fission in Berlin had American physicists in an uproar. – in a state of commotion

 (in a state of commotion, full of criticism, in a desperate state)

7. Science wasn’t the only thing that appealed to the dashing young man with the walrus moustache.- interested

 (interested, challenged, worried)

II. Study the following sentences.

• Einstein became a gifted amateur violinist, maintaining this skill throughout his life.

• Letters survive in which they put their affection into words, mixing science with tenderness.

The parts in italics in the above sentences begin with –ing verbs, and are called participial phrases. Participial phrases say something more about the person or thing talked about or the idea expressed by the sentence as a whole. For example:

– Einstein became a gifted amateur violinist. He maintained this skill throughout his life.

Complete the sentences below by filling in the blanks with suitable participial  clauses. The information that has to be used in the phrases is provided as a sentence in brackets.

1. Working round the clock, the firefighters finally put out the fire. (They worked

round the clock.)

2. Noticing the colours blending softly into one another, she watched the sunset above the mountain, (She noticed the colours blending softly into one another.)

3. Neighing continually, the excited horse pawed the ground rapidly, (While it neighed continually.)

4. Having taken the wrong train, I found myself in Bangalore, instead of Benaras. (I had taken the wrong train.)

5. Having not bathed for two days, I was desperate to get to the bathroom. (I had not bathed for two days)

6. The stone steps being worn down, needed to be replaced. (They were worn down).

7. The actor received hundreds of letters from his fans, asking him to send them his photograph. (They asked him to send them his photograph.)

Writing Newspaper Reports

Here are some notes which you could use to write a report.

21 August 2005 — original handwritten manuscript of Albert Einstein unearthed — by student Rowdy Boeynik in the University of the Netherlands — Boeynik researching papers — papers belonging to an old friend of Einstein — fingerprints of Einstein on these papers — 16-page document dated 1924 — Einstein’s work on this last theory — behaviour of atoms at low temperature — now known as the Bose-Einstein condensation — the manuscript to be kept at Leyden University where Einstein got the Nobel Prize.

Write a report which has four paragraphs, one each on:

• What was unearthed.

• Who unearthed it and when.

• What the document contained.

• Where it will be kept.

Your report could begin like this:

                                              Student Unearths Einstein Manuscript

21 AUGUST 2005. An original handwritten Albert Einstein manuscript has been unearthed at a university in the Netherlands. While doing his research, Boeynick found the papers belonging to an old friend of Einstein. The 16 page document dated 1924 were confirmed to be Einstein’s as his fingerprints were found on them. The papers related to research on behavior of atoms at low temperatures – now known as the Bose-Einstein condensation theory- were part of his work on the last theory. The handwritten manuscript will be kept at the Leyden University where Einstein had received the Noble Prize.


Your teacher will dictate these paragraphs to you. Write down the paragraphs with correct punctuation marks.

In 1931 Charlie Chaplin invited Albert Einstein, who was visiting Hollywood, to a private screening of his new film, City Lights. As the two men drove into town together, passersby waved and cheered. Chaplin turned to his guest and explained: “The people are applauding you because none of them understands you and applauding me because everybody understands me.”

One of Einstein’s colleagues asked him for his telephone number one day. Einstein reached for a telephone directory and looked it up. “You don’t remember your own number?” the man asked, startled. “No,” Einstein answered. “Why should I memorise something I can so easily get from a book?” (In fact, Einstein claimed never to memorise anything which could be looked up in less than two minutes.)

NCERT English Beehive Class – 9 – Solutions Ch -2 :Part – 2 The Shehnai of Bismillah Khan


Thinking about the Text

I.Tick the right answer.

1. The (shehnai, pungi ) was a ‘reeded noisemaker.’ – Pungi

2. (Bismillah Khan, A barber, Ali Bux) transformed the pungi into a shehnai.  A barber

3. Bismillah Khan’s paternal ancestors were (barbers, professional musicians). – Professional musicians

4. Bismillah Khan learnt to play the shehnai from (Ali Bux, Paigambar Bux, – Ali Bux

Ustad Faiyaaz Khan).

5. Bismillah Khan’s first trip abroad was to (Afghanistan, U.S.A., Canada). – Afghanistan

II. Find the words in the text which show Ustad Bismillah Khan’s feelings about the items listed below. Then mark a tick (4) in the correct column. Discuss your answers in class.

Bismillah Khan’s feelings aboutPositiveNegativeNeutral
1. teaching children musicPositive  
2. the film world Negative 
3. migrating to the U.S.A. Negative 
4. playing at temples  Neutral
5. getting the Bharat RatnaPositive  
6. the banks of the GangaPositive  
7. leaving Benaras and Dumraon Negative 

III. Answer these questions in 30–40 words.

1.Why did Aurangzeb ban the playing of the pungi?

Ans. Emperor Aurangzeb banned pungi in the royal residence for it had a shrill, unpleasant sound. ‘Pungi’ became the generic name for reeded noisemakers.

2. How is a shehnai different from a pungi?

Ans. A pungi is a reeded noisemaker and has a shrill unpleasant sound. A shehnai is an improved version of the pungi. It has a pipe with a natural hollow stem that is longer and broader than a pungi and has seven holes on the body of the pipe which helps in playing classical music.

3. Where was the shehnai played traditionally? How did Bismillah Khan change this?

Ans. The sound of shehnai was considered to be auspicious and was played in temples and in north Indian weddings. In the past it was also a part of the naubat at royal courts.

4. When and how did Bismillah Khan get his big break?

Ans. Bismillah Khan got his big break with the opening of the All India Radio in Lucknow in 1938. He soon became an often-heard shehnai player on radio.

5. Where did Bismillah Khan play the shehnai on 15 August 1947? Why was the event historic?

Ans. On 15th August 1947, the shenai was played by Bismillah Khan at Red Fort.

         This event was historic since India became independent on this day and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave his famous speech ‘ Tryst with Destiny’.

6. Why did Bismillah Khan refuse to start a shehnai school in the U.S.A.?

Ans. Bismillah Khan was a very patriotic person and loved India. He refused to set up a school in U.S.A as he was extremely attached with Benaras, the banks of Ganga and Dumraon . When a student asked whether he would be amenable to move to U.S if the atmosphere of Benaras was recreated there; Khansaab retaliated by saying whether the Ganga could be transported there as well.

7. Find at least two instances in the text which tell you that Bismillah Khan loves India and Benaras.

Ans. Bismillah Khan’s love for India is reflected when he refuses to shift to the U.S to start a school there. He also said that he missed Benaras when he was in Mumbai and he missed Dumraon when he was in Benaras. He also refused to shift to Pakistan during separation.

Thinking about Language

  1. Look at these sentences

• Evelyn was determined to live a normal life.

• Evelyn managed to conceal her growing deafness from friends and teachers.

The italicised parts answer the questions: “What was Evelyn determined to do?”

and “What did Evelyn manage to do?” They begin with a to-verb (to live, to conceal).

Complete the following sentences. Beginning with a to-verb, try to answer the questions in brackets.

1. The school sports team hopes – to win. (What does it hope to do?)

2. We all want – to succeed (What do we all want to do?)

3. They advised the hearing-impaired child’s mother – to take her to a specialist. (What did they advise her to do?)

4. The authorities permitted us to -use the stadium. (What did the authorities permit us to do?)

5. A musician decided to – create a world record. (What did the musician decide to do?)

II. From the text on Bismillah Khan, find the words and phrases that match these definitions and write them down. The number of the paragraph where you will find the words/phrases has been given for you in brackets.

1. the home of royal people (1)  – royal residence

2. the state of being alone (5)    – solitude

3. a part which is absolutely necessary (2) – an indispensible component

4. to do something not done before (5) – improvise

5. without much effort (13) – effortlessly

6. quickly and in large quantities (9)  thick and fast

III. Tick the right answer.

1. When something is revived, it  – lives again (remains dead/lives again). 

2. When a government bans something, it wants it – stopped (stopped/started).

3. When something is considered auspicious, – welcome it (welcome it/avoid it).

4. When we take to something, we find it – interesting (boring/interesting).

5. When you appreciate something, you – find it good and useful (find it good and useful/find it of no use).

6. When you replicate something, you do it – for the second time (for the first time/for the second time).

7. When we come to terms with something, it is- no longer upsetting (still upsetting/no longer upsetting).

IV. Dictionary work

• The sound of the shehnai is auspicious.

• The auspicious sound of the shehnai is usually heard at marriages.

The adjective auspicious can occur after the verb be as in the first sentence, or before a noun as in the second. But there are some adjectives which can be used after the verb be and not before a noun. For example:

• Ustad Faiyaz Khan was overjoyed.

We cannot say: *the overjoyed man.

Look at these entries from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2005).

elder adi., noun adjective 1 [only before noun] (of people, especially two members of the same family) older: my elder brother • his elder sister 2 (the elder) used without a noun immediately after it to show who is the older of two people: the elder of their two sons 3 (the elder) (formal) used before or after sb’s name to show that they are the older of two people who have the same name: the elder Pitt • Pitt, the elder.awake adj., verb adjective [not before noun] not asleep (especially immediately before or after sleeping): to be half/fully awake; to be wide awake. I was still awake when he came to bed.

Consult your dictionary and complete the following table. The first one has been done for you

adjectiveOnly before nounNot before nounboth before and after the verb be
indispensable         Yes
impressed    Yes Yes
afraid    Yes Yes
outdoor   Yes  
paternal   Yes  
countless   Yes  
priceless Yes