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ENGLISH LITERATURE

TREASURE TROVE- VOLUME 1: POEMS

NO. TOPIC PG. NO

1. The Heart of the Tree- Henry Cuyler Bunner 2

2. The Cold Within- James Patrick Kinney 10

3. Bangle Sellers- Sarojini Naidu 15

4. After Blenheim- Robert Southey

5. Television- Roald Dahl

6. Daffodils- William Wordsworth

7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou

8. The Patriot- Robert Browning

9. Abou Ben Adhem- Leigh Hunt

10. Nine Gold Medals- David Roth

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THE HEART OF THE TREE
Henry Cuyler Bunner

Questions and Answers:

1. Whom is the poet asking the question to in the first line of the extract?
List any two things, according to the extract, that man will do by planting
trees?

The poet is asking the question to the readers. By planting trees, man plants a
friend of sun and sky. He plants the flag of free breeze that provides cool
breeze.

2. In what way are the trees friends of sun and sky?

The tree will grow tall and make friendship with the sun and the sky. The tree is
dependent on sunlight to carry out the process of photosynthesis. The tree is a
friend of the sky as it takes in carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen
and thus purifies the air. In addition, the transpiration from trees is responsible
for cloud formation before it rains.

3. How can a man plant the flag of breezes free?

The tree is compared to a flag of free breeze. Just like the flag flutters freely in
the breeze, the leaves of the tree flutter and provide soothing, cool breeze.

4. What is meant by the “shaft of beauty”? What is compared to the shafts?

The “shafts of beauty” mean the beam of beauty. The poet compares the leaves
of the tree to a flag and the stem to the beautiful shaft (pole) of the flag.

5. What is the impact of beginning the poem with a question? What is the
figure of speech used here?

The poem opens with the refrain which asks “What does he plant who plants a
tree?” and that sets the tone for the entire poem. The poet gives a clear idea of
what the poem is about and explains the usefulness of planting a tree.

6. What technique or figure of speech the poet has used in the first line of
the extract?

The poet begins each stanza with a question and immediately provides an
answer to that question. This is the general pattern that is used throughout the
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poem. This technique is known as Hypophora or Antipophora. This is used to
create curiosity in the readers.

7. Give the meaning of the following lines:

What does he plant who plants a tree?


He plants a friend of sun and sky;
He plants the flag of breezes free;
The shaft of beauty towering high;

The tree will grow tall and make friendship with the sun and the sky. The tree is
dependent on sunlight to carry out the process of photosynthesis. The tree is a
friend of the sky as it takes in carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen
and thus purifies the air. In addition, the transpiration from trees is responsible
for cloud formation before it rains. The tree grows tall like a shaft and provides
cool breeze. It appears that the trees have made a home closer to heaven.

8. What is known as mother-croon of bird? Why is the song sung in a


hushed voice?

Mother-croon is the song that is sung by the mother bird to her young ones. It is
sung in a hushed voice as it is sung during twilight. It adds to the pleasant
harmony and calmness of the universe.

9. What is twilight? Why is it a happy twilight?

Twilight is the faint light at the end of the day after the sun has gone down. It is
a happy twilight as the mother-croon happily sings for her young ones. It adds
to the pleasant harmony and calmness of the universe.

10. What is meant by ‘treble’ and ‘heaven’s harmony’? What role does the
treble play in heaven’s harmony?

‘Treble’ means high tone in music. Harmony is the way in which different
musical notes are played or sung together and combine to make a pleasant
sound. The sound of the breeze through the rustling leaves, the song of the
mother croon for her young ones, combine together to produce a tone that adds
harmony to the universe

11. Give four functions that a tree performs on earth.

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The tree is the friend of the sun and sky. It is the flag of breezes free. A tree
provides shelter to the birds; hence, we hear the mother-croon. The tree makes a
home near the heaven.

12. Enumerate any three benefits of planting as suggested by the poet in


this extract. What do the plants do to provide cool shade in a place?

In this extract, the poet suggests more benefits of planting a tree. Trees provide
cool shade that will soothe and give comfort. It also provides tender rain. It
bears seeds and buds for the future progeny. The old trees will wither away but
the seeds will grow into new trees and into a dense forest.

The plants grow tall and dense hence providing cool shade under the scorching
sun.

13. How do the last two lines of the extract explain the process of
regeneration? How does the man plant the forest’s heritage?

The plant in course of time will grow tall. It bears seeds and buds for the future
progeny. The old trees will wither away but the seeds will grow into new trees
and into a dense forest. This is symbolic of the process of birth, death and
regeneration. In this way, the trees make the pains beautiful.

It will provide crops to future generations, who will reap all the benefits of the
trees that are planted now.

14. How do the trees provide for the harvest of the following years?

The plants provide us with all the essential nutrients for our body. They purify
the air, give us rain, and are the main source of medicine and wood. It provides
us with food, fruits.

15. What do the expression ‘unborn eyes’ indicate? What will they see?
Why will they rejoice?

With the expression ‘unborn eyes’ the poet is referring to the future generation.
The unborn eyes shall see the beauty of the trees, who give us tender rain, cool
shade. They shall see the generosity of the tree that gives us fruits, medicine,
wood, that also boosts the country’s economy.
They will rejoice in the pure air, shade, rain, and food that are provided by the
trees.

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16. The poet says, “He plants, in sap and leaf and wood”. Which figure of
speech is used here? Explain its usage with two other examples from the
poem.

The figure of speech used here is Metonymy. It is a figure of speech where a


thing or concept is not called by its own name but rather by a metonym, that is,
by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept.

The whole poem runs on a series of metonymic associations of a tree with its
qualities. Examples includes, ‘he plants a friend of sun and sky’; ‘he plants a
forest’s heritage’. Here ‘a friend of sun and sky’, ‘forest’s heritage’ are used as
metonyms.

17. What is meant by “far-cast thought of civic good”? In what way is the
planter’s work a blessing? State for whom it is a blessing?

‘Far-cast thought of civic good’ means that the one who plants a tree is
concerned about the future of the Earth and foresees the benefit of the citizens.

The planter’s work is a blessing because the humans can get food, from the
plants’ sap and leaves. He can get wood for its use.

The act of planting is a blessing for the future generations as well as on the
neighbourhood.

18. Give the meaning of the following lines:

Who is the hollow of His hand


Holds all the growth of all our land-

By planting a tree the man directly or indirectly contributes to the nation’s


growth. The man’s hand holds the future progress of the nation. ‘Hollow of his
hand’ means the palm, which will protect the trees. When a tree is planted, it
sets in motion the progress of a nation from sea to sea. All these start from the
progressive thought in the man’s heart who plants a tree. It is a noble act.

Also the capitalization in ‘His’ indicates that the man who plants a tree is all-
powerful and the destiny-maker of a nation.

19. In what way a nation’s growth depends on planting trees.

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The trees are the main source of medicine and wood. Wood is a very important
trade product and thus its import and export within countries enriches the
economy of the nation. Therefore, the poet indirectly requests human beings to
plant trees for the well -being of the society.

20. Comment on the appropriateness of the title of the poem.

The title ‘The Heart of the Tree’ is appropriate. The heart is one of the most
important organs in the entire human body. The human heart pumps blood,
which is carries all the vital nutrients. Only when the heart pumps blood, it is
able to transport oxygen from one part of the body to the other. Likewise, a tree
has certain qualities, which are as essential as human heat, for survival. They
absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen; trees cause rainfall; they are
essential for the harvest of the coming age; they provide us with leaves, sap, and
wood. Heart maintains human life; so does the tree maintain the plant and
animal life in the universe. The Heart thus signifies the most important quality
of the tree. It can be concluded that the title is appropriate, as trees are important
of our survival.

EXTRA QUESTIONS

1. What does the tree symbolise in the poem?

The tree symbolise human prosperity and well-being. It teaches us the value of
love and loyalty. It stands for the country’s growth and harmony.

2. In what way is the poem relevant in our times?

Trees are an integral part of our ecological and economic growth. Trees are
important for our survival. They not only beautify the environment but also
purify the air and provide us with wood, timber, fruits, and medicine. Without
trees, the world would become a deserted barren land. In this century, where
trees are being cut down rapidly in the name of urbanisation, is taking a toll on
the environment. Thus, the poem written a century ago is not only relevant but
also makes us realise our duty towards our environment.

3. What are the social and ecological benefits of planting a tree?

A man who plants a tree, helps the nation knowing or unknowingly.

Trees are useful to beat the scorching heat of the sun and to transform the light
of the sun to glucose through the process of photosynthesis. All the energy for

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life on earth comes through this way. They provide us cool shade and tender
rain. They purify the air around us, and provide us with oxygen.

There are certain ecological benefits of planting a tree. The trees make the home
for birds and animals. The trees bear seeds and buds. Through the process of
transpiration, the tree brings rain that helps in the growth of trees and plants
thereby prevent deforestation. It will also provide crops to the future generation.

The poem also points out certain social benefits of planting a tree. Every citizen
has a duty of repaying the environment for the food, medicines fruits etc. that
they have been providing us since ages. It is only possible by doing the noble
act of planting a tree. One who plants a tree is a blessing on the neighbourhood,
who has definitely foreseen the benefits of planting the tree. It is a civic good
whose benefit the future generation will reap. The man’s hand holds the future
progress of mankind.

4. Why does the poet call trees ‘glory of the plain’? How does a tree adorn
nature?

The poet sees trees as the glory of the plain. The rocks and mountains would
resemble a desert without any trees, rain, and cultivation. Trees beautify the
plain.

We know that the tree adorns nature, as it is the friend of the sun and sky. It is
the home for the birds, it is a flag of free breeze. It provides rain and cool shade.
Thus, it not only beautifies the environment but also keeps the balance of the
ecosystem.

5. What are the themes of the poem?

The first theme is importance of trees for our survival. They cool the
atmosphere and cause gentle rain. They are the sources of breezes free i.e. the
trees take in carbon dioxide and emit oxygen for human beings to inhale.
Transpiration from plants is essential for rain. The seeds that fall and sprout
again, will give birth to many new plants. The forests will prove as a boon for
the upcoming generations. The plants provide us with essential nutrients for our
body. They are the main source of medicine and wood. Wood is a very
important trade product and thus its import and export within countries enriches
the economy of the nation. Therefore, the poet indirectly requests human beings
to plant trees for the well -being of the society.

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*Discuss ‘The Heart of the Tree’ as an appeal to the readers to plant more
trees, when he sees the impending destruction of the environment.

The second theme is concern for the future of the earth. It seems as if the poet
could see the impending destruction and thus indirectly appeals to the readers to
plant trees, not only for themselves but also for the future generations. Trees not
only beautify the environment but also purify the air and provide us with wood,
timber, fruits, and medicines. Without trees, the world would become a
deserted, barren land. The entire animal race would face hunger. Thus, trees are
responsible for the growth of mankind.

POETIC DEVICES

1. Metonymy

Metonymy is a figure of speech where a thing or concept is not called by its


own name but rather by a metonym, that is, by the name of something
associated in meaning with that thing or concept. The whole poem runs on a
series of metonymic associations of a tree with its qualities.

Examples: He plants a friend of sun and sky; He plants the flag of breezes free;
He plants the forests heritage.
Here ‘a friend of sun and sky’, ‘forest’s heritage’, ‘flag of breezes free’ are used
as metonyms.
2. Alliteration
It is a close repetition of consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words.
For example: He plants a friend of sun and sky;
a. He plants the flag of breezes free;
b. He plants a home to heaven anigh;
c. In hushed and happy twilight heard
d. And years that fade and flush again;
3. Metaphor
It is an implied comparison.
Example: He plants the flag of breezes free

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The shaft of beauty, towering high
The leafy branches are compared to a flag and the stem is compared to a shaft
standing high.
4. Synecdoche
It is a figure of speech in which a part is put for the whole or the whole for a
part.
Example: ‘The joy that unborn eyes shall see’; Here, eyes means the child as a
whole.

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THE COLD WITHIN
James Patrick Kinney

Questions and Answers:

1. Which figure of speech is used in the line ‘In bleak and bitter cold’?
What special significance do the adjectives ‘bleak’ and ‘bitter’ have?

The poem begins with the narrator telling us about six humans who were
trapped by coincidence (happenstance) in a ‘bleak and bitter cold. The cold is
instantly sketched by the use of the alliteration ‘bleak and bitter’, where the
sound of the consonant letter ‘b’ is repeated. The adjectives add to the
description of the cold atmosphere. The humans knew they needed the log of
wood to save their lives, and that they are susceptible to both hatred and cold.
Unfortunately, the failure on their part to recognize this basic fact becomes a
cause of their doom.

2. State how the following line is connected to the theme of the poem:

‘Their dying fire in need of logs’

The six men in the poem represent the entire human race. These men were
overtaken by the feelings of revenge, spite, and anger to such an extent that
eventually prejudice leads to their downfall. They are devoid of warmth and
compassion for each other, which holds them back from using their log of wood
to keep the fire burning.

The phrase ‘their dying fire’ refers to the literal fire that was extinguishing as
well as the metaphorical fire of compassion that was dying. Thus, the line is
connected to the theme of lack of warmth in human relation and about the
futility of holding hatred against others and discriminating them on the petty
grounds of color, religion, economic standard etc.

3. What character traits would you associate with, ‘the first one’ and ‘the
next man’? Why?

‘The first one’ was a white woman. While she was trapped in bleak and bitter
cold, she noticed that one of the faces round the fire was black. This displays
her racial prejudice against the black man.

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‘The next one’ noticed ‘not one of his church’ (religious community). Due to
his bigotry he did not use his log of wood to keep the fire burning.

4. What is meant by “tattered clothes”? What does this expression


symbolise? Why does “the third one” give his clothes a hitch?

The expression “tattered clothes” mean torn clothes. This expression symbolises
that the ‘third one’ belonged to the lower class. The ‘third one’ gave his coat a
hitch because he was trapped in bleak and bitter cold. His torn clothes could not
provide him enough warmth.

5. Mention the prejudice present in the minds of the poor and the rich
against one another.

In the poem, the poor man has a prejudice against the rich man. He believes that
the rich is idle and worthless, hence he does not use his log to warm him.

The rich one on the other hand considers the poor man to be lazy and shiftless.
He is materialistic. He is only concerned about how to keep his wealth safe
from the poor.

6. What prejudice the black man had and for whom? / Explain: ‘For all he
saw in his stick of wood, was a chance to spite the white’

Six humans were trapped in bleak and bitter cold. When the fire passed from the
sight of the black man he saw a chance to spite the white/take revenge from the
white man. The whites have always mistreated and considered the blacks as
inferior. Even the ‘first one’ in the poem who was a white woman, refused to
give her log of wood due to racial prejudice. Hence, the black sees a chance to
take his revenge.

7. Explain the phrase ‘forlorn group’. Which figure of speech is used here?

The phrase ‘forlorn group’ means a group that is sad and lonely. It is ironical
that six people sitting together in a group are ‘forlorn’.

The figure of speech used here is oxymoron. It is a figure of speech in which


two opposite words are placed adjacently.

8. What game is the poet referring to while mentioning the last man of the
group?

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The game referred to is the game of life. The game is a metaphor for the journey
of one’s life. The last man in the group is selfish, and gave only to those who
gave it back to him. He was an opportunist.

9. What “proof of human sin” is being referred to here? Explain?

All six humans held their logs tight in their hand thus inviting death; this was
the ‘proof of human sin’. This is an act of selfishness. Owing to their prejudices
against each other based on racism, bigotry, etc. they refuse to put their stick of
wood into the fire. It also shows disobedience to God’s commandment, ‘love
thy neighbour as thyself’.

10. What does the poet mean by, ‘they died from the cold within’?

Six humans were trapped in bleak and bitter cold. All of them held their logs
and refused to put it in the fire due to arrogance, revenge, racism, and greed.
The black and the white, the rich and the poor, all are guided by animosity
against each other. The rich considers the poor as lazy and shiftless; the poor on
the other hand think of the rich as unworthy. Their cold heartedness invites
death in the end and they die with their logs held tight in their hands. They are
so cold from inside that they do not realise that by not helping others, they
themselves will perish. Thus, they die not from the cold outside but from the
cold heartedness within.

EXTRA QUESTIONS

11. How does the poem portray lack of warmth and compassion in human
relationship?/ Explain the theme of lack of warmth in human relations in
the poem, ‘The Cold Within’.

The six people in the poem represent the entire human race. These people were
overtaken by the feelings of revenge, spite, and anger to such an extent that it
led to their downfall. They are devoid of humanity and even when they are
trapped in the same situation, they cannot cooperate. They cannot break the
walls of discrimination based on race, religion, and class. They do not have
warmth and compassion for each other. Each has a log of wood that can be put
to use not only for others but also for themselves. However, their differences
surpass their survival instinct. Thus, by the end they die from the cold within.

12. Why did none of the characters in the poem, ‘The Cold Within’, share
their wood? What role did prejudice, discrimination, racism, and envy play

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in this poem? /Who were the six humans referred to in the poem? Give
their character sketch.

In the poem ‘The Cold Within’, six humans were trapped by chance in bleak
and bitter cold. They were sitting around the dying fire which needed logs. The
fire literally refers to the fire that was dying and needed logs of wood to stay
alive. Metaphorically, it was the fire of compassion in their hearts that is dying.
They do not put their log of wood due to discrimination and prejudice.

All six humans possessed different forms of discrimination. The first one, was a
white woman. She noticed that one of the faces round the fire was black. She
held her log back due to racial prejudice.

The second one did not see one of his church (religious community). Therefore,
he held his log back due to bigotry/religious intolerance.

The third man sat in tattered clothes, which shows that he was poor. He did not
give fire to his stick of birch as he did not want to warm the idle rich. The fourth
man was the rich one who considered the poor man to be lazy and shiftless,
hence he didn’t use his log of wood. He was materialistic. He was only
concerned about how to keep his wealth safe from the poor. Both of them were
the victim of class discrimination.

The fifth man was a black and he saw a chance to take revenge from the white
in his log of wood. The whites have always mistreated and considered the
blacks as inferior. Hence, he wanted to avenge the ill treatment.

The last man was an opportunist who did nothing except for gain. Though he
didn’t have any prejudice against the people, he was selfish. As none of the
people gave their log of wood, he held his back too.

The wall of discrimination, prejudice, racism blinds them so much that they do
not realise that by not helping others, they themselves will perish. Thus, they die
not from the cold outside but from the cold heartedness within.

13. How does the end justify the title of the poem?

The title, ‘The Cold Within’ is symbolic of lack of warmth and compassion in
human beings. Six humans are caught against their will in ‘bleak and bitter
cold’, but none of them uses the wooden stick each one possesses due to racism,
envy, arrogance, and revenge. They are so cold from inside that they do not

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realise that by not helping others, they themselves will perish. The black and the
white, the rich and the poor, all are guided by animosity against each other. The
rich considers the poor as lazy and shiftless; the poor on the other hand think of
the rich as unworthy. Their cold heartedness invites death in the end and they
die with their logs held tight in their hands. Thus, the title is appropriate as they
die not from the cold outside but from the cold heartedness within.

14. What is the form, genre and tone of the poem?

The poem is written in the narrative form.

The genre of the poem is a parable. A poetic parable consists of a story that
gives a moral lesson in the form of a poem.

The tone of the poem is sad and melancholic. The tone is so depressing that one
can feel the coldness of their hearts that the poet describes.

15. What is the significance of the ‘log of wood’ in the poem?

‘log of wood’ symbolise a man’s property or wealth. These logs of wood were
needed to fuel the dying fire for survival. The six humans had attached their
prejudice to their logs that kept them from putting it to use.

POETIC DEVICES

Oxymoron

It is a figure of speech in which, two opposite words are placed adjacently.

Eg: The last man of this forlorn group.

Here the opposite words forlorn (lonely) and group are placed adjacently.

Personification

It is a figure of speech in which inanimate (non-living) objects are given human


qualities.

Eg: Their logs held tight in death still hands.

Here ‘death’ is personified, where it is holding logs.

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