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Section B: Context Questions

1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun,
Came peeping in at morn; 
He came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had bome my breath away!

(i) When did the sun come "peeping"? Why?

Ans: In the poem, the sun is described as coming "peeping in at morn." i.e. the sun comes peeping in the morning. The speaker reminisces about the time when the sun would appear through a little window in their house, suggesting that it came peeping in at an early hour of the morning. The sun's arrival is depicted as timely and punctual, never coming "a wink too soon" or "bringing too long a day." The specific time of day is not mentioned, but it can be inferred that the sun would typically rise early in the morning, as is common.

(ii) What do the lines "never came a wink too soon" imply? What is the poet trying to indicate?

Ans: The line "never came a wink too soon" implies that the sun always appeared at the right time, depicted as timely and punctual. The poet is indicating the sun's consistent and dependable nature, emphasizing a sense of stability and nostalgia.

(iii) Why does the poet wish "the night had borne his breathe away"?

Ans: The line "the night had borne my breath away" suggests the poet for the night to suffocate him to take his breath away. This reveals a more delicate relation that the poet has with his younger self that goes beyond the idea of just a casual fondness for childhood. His yearning for death is a reflection of his extremely tiring and difficult present. The pain that life is causing him is evident in his desire to be gone with the night. It becomes a symbol that represents Hood's, depressive and gloomy adult self.

(iv) Describe in your own words the imagery portrayed in this extract.

Ans: In this extract, the poet recalls a vivid image of a small window through which the morning sun would gently peek into their house. The imagery captures a sense of innocence and simplicity. The sun's arrival is described as timely and reliable. The poet's remembering his birthplace, implies a strong connection between their existence and the house. The phrase "Had borne my breath away" suggests a deep emotional attachment to the house, representing the poet's very being. The imagery evokes a sense of nostalgia and longing for the past.

(v) Give the significance of the first line of this extract in the poem.

Ans: The first line of the extract, "I remember, I remember," is significant in setting the nostalgic and reflective tone of the poem. It indicates that the speaker is reminiscing about past memories and experiences. This line serves as a gateway into the speaker's introspective journey, inviting readers to delve into the poet's nostalgic reflections and the vivid imagery that follows.

II. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

I remember, I remember, 
The roses, red and white,
The vi'lets, and the lily-cups, 
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set 
The laburnum on his birthday,-
The tree is living yet!

(i) What does "flowers made of light" mean?

Ans: The phrase "flowers made of light" is a metaphorical description used by the poet. It suggests that the roses, violets, and lily cups mentioned in the poem possess a radiant and luminous quality. The imagery implies that these flowers exude beauty and brightness, symbolizing their vibrant and enchanting nature. It emphasizes the visual impact and the uplifting effect that these flowers had on the speaker's memory.

(ii) What does the building of its nest by a robin in the lilacs suggest? How is the poet affected by its absence now?

Ans: The building of a nest by a robin in the lilacs suggests a vibrant and lively environment in the poet's childhood. The robin's choice to build its nest in the lilacs highlights the beauty and appeal of the flowers and the nurturing aspect of nature. The absence of the nest now evokes a sense of nostalgia and longing for the past, symbolizing a loss of innocence and a more somber present reality.

(iii)What memories does he have of his brother? Which tree' is living? What does this signify?

Ans: The poet has memories of his brother setting a laburnum tree on his birthday. The specific tree mentioned, the laburnum, is still living. This signifies that despite the passage of time and the changes in the poet's life, there is still a tangible connection to their past. The living laburnum tree serves as a symbol of continuity and endurance, representing the lasting presence of cherished memories and relationships. It reinforces the poet's nostalgia and the significance of their brotherly bond, even in the poet's present-day reflections.

(iv) Briefly describe the garden of the poet's childhood.

Ans: The garden of the poet's childhood is described through various elements. It is adorned with roses in red and white, violets, and lily-cups, which are portrayed as radiant and luminous. The lilacs in the garden are associated with the robin's nest and symbolize the vitality of nature. The presence of a living laburnum tree, planted by the poet's brother on his birthday, adds to the imagery of the garden. Overall, the garden represents a vibrant and harmonious space filled with colorful flowers, the songs of birds, and the enduring beauty of nature.

(v) Give the meaning of

(a) The roses, red and white
(b) where my brother set/The laburnum

III. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

I remember, I remember, 
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh

To swallows on the wing,
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now, 
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

(i) What does the poet think when he was swinging? Which figure of speech is used in line 3 of this extract?

Ans: When the poet was swinging, they thought that the air rushing past them must feel as fresh as it does for swallows flying in the sky. The poet imagines the exhilarating sensation of the wind and the freedom it represents. In line 3 of this extract, the figure of speech used is a simile. The poet compares the feeling of the air rushing past them while swinging to the fresh sensation experienced by swallows on the wing. 

(ii) What do you understand by swallows on the wing? Who are swallows? Why are they mentioned here?

Ans: "Swallows on the wing" refers to the flying movement of swallows. Swallows are small migratory birds known for their graceful flight and aerial acrobatics. They are mentioned in the poem to evoke a sense of freedom, agility, and natural beauty. The mention of swallows serves as a comparison to the poet's experience of swinging. It emphasizes the poet's longing for the carefree and exhilarating sensations of childhood, where their spirit felt light and they were connected to the freedom of nature.

(iii) How did the poet's spirit fly? What is the state of his spirits now?

Ans: The poet's spirit metaphorically flew when they were swinging. It represents a sense of freedom, joy, and lightness that the poet experienced during their childhood. In contrast, the state of the poet's spirits in the present is described as heavy. The line "That is so heavy now" suggests that the poet's current state of being is burdened and weighed down by the weight of adulthood, responsibilities, and perhaps the complexities of life.

(iv) How does this extract show the theme of saudade.

Ans: This extract shows the theme of sadness through the contrast between the poet's nostalgic memories and their present state. The heaviness of their spirit in the present suggests a burden of adulthood, and the mention of the summer pools unable to cool their fever implies restlessness or dissatisfaction. The longing for the carefree joy of childhood evokes a bittersweet feeling, emphasizing the theme of sadness in the poem.

(v) "And summer pools could hardly cool The fever on my brow!" Explain what the poet meant by these lines.

Ans: In these lines, the poet expresses that even the refreshing summer pools are unable to calm the internal turmoil they feel. The phrase "fever on my brow" symbolizes their emotional unrest or inner conflict. The phrase "fever on my brow" symbolizes an internal restlessness, turmoil, or unease that the poet is experiencing. Despite the hot summer weather and the potential calming effect of water, the poet's inner turmoil or burdens are so intense that even the soothing properties of the pools cannot ease their troubles. The lines convey a sense of internal conflict or emotional unrest that persists despite external circumstances.

IV. Read the extracts given below and answer the questions that follow:

I remember, I remember, 
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops 
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance, 
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heav'n
Than when I was a boy. 

(i) What did the poet think about the fir trees as a child?

Ans: As a child, the poet thought that the slender tops of the fir trees were closely touching or reaching the sky. The poet perceived the trees as being tall and dark, with their tops seemingly connected to the heavens. This perception reflects the innocent imagination and wonder of childhood, where the boundaries between the natural world may have appeared blurred or intertwined. 

(ii) Identify any two literary devices used in this extract.

Ans: Two literary devices used in this extract are: 
  1. Hyperbole: The poet employs hyperbole when describing their childhood belief that the slender tops of the fir trees were "close against the sky."
  2. Contrast: The contrast between the poet's childhood perception of the fir trees and their current understanding is evident in the lines "It was a childish ignorance, But now 'tis little joy."

(iii) What does he refer to as "childish ignorance"? What is the 'joy' referred to in the extract?

Ans: In childhood, that poet used to think that those branches of the fir tree close enough to heaven, the word didn't realize that he himself was inclave of heaven. The inability of the poet to count the fathoms between him, and heaven is referred to as childish ignorance.  The "joy" referred to in the extract is the poet's previous belief and perception as a child that the slender tops of the fir trees were closely touching or reaching the sky.

(iv) Why did the poet feel closer to heaven earlier? Why does he feel farther off heaven now?

Ans: The poet felt closer to heaven earlier because of their "childish ignorance", and innocent and imaginative perception as a child. They believed that the slender tops of the fir trees reached or were close to the sky. However, the poet now feels farther off from heaven because they have gained a more mature understanding of the world. The phrase "But now 'tis little joy" suggests a loss of that childhood innocence and a diminished sense of wonder. As the poet has grown older, their perception has shifted, and they have become aware of the limitations and complexities of the world.

The last three lines suggest that the poet has lost his youthful joy and optimism Do you agree? Elaborate with reference to the poem.

Ans: The last three lines of the poem suggest that the poet has lost their youthful joy and optimism. The phrase "But now 'tis little joy" implies a diminished sense of happiness and fulfillment. The poet's realization that they are farther off from heaven than when they were a child reflects a loss of innocence and a growing awareness of the complexities and disappointments of adulthood. These lines highlight a sense of melancholy and a longing for the pure joy and optimism of youth.