Nature is mostly associated with a mother. As a mother takes care of her child, nature also looks after the ones who seek its shelter. In this poem we find nature playing the role of a mother by providing shelter to the dead soldier. The poem is full of nature imagery. Starting from the stream that flows in the small green valley to the humming insects, the poet uses every natural object, not only as images but also as the provider of shelter. The slow stream signifies the unstoppable flow of life. Individual sorrows and griefs fail to make a change in the course of nature. Apart from these, the serenity of nature here is set in contrast to the horrid sight of the dead soldier. Like Owen ‘Spring Offensive’, Rimbaud too places nature as a background in his war-poem. Nature comforts us, but it is powerless to save a life from manmade destruction. The man then overpowers nature resulting in unnecessary loss of young lives. Thus, nature suggestively plays a major role in this poem.

The poem ends a little abruptly but leaves the reader with utter surprise and shock Discuss.

The poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’ initially presents a very beautiful picture of the landscape where a young soldier lies ‘open-mouthed’ on the green ‘sun-soaked bed’ of grass. Then, suddenly the mood of the poem turns into a sad and shocking one. The poet mentions the ‘two red holes’ in the soldier’s side and leaves the reader utterly surprised and shocked. He does this deliberately in order to bring out the theme or central idea of the poem, that is, the soldier’s futility of war. War, in the name of peace and well-being of a nation, actually slaughters young lives with their dreams unfulfilled and lives unlived. This callousness of war moves the poet intensely, so he tries to portray his thought through his poem. The poignant ending of the poem, though a little abrupt, is like an alarm to mankind against the horrific effect of war.

The poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’ rests on two contrasting pictures. Discuss the use of two contrasting pictures in the poem,

What is the occasion of the poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’? Give a simile used by the poet in the poem. Are there other comparisons in the poem?

Give the substance of Sonnet 18 by Shakespeare.

Discuss the central idea of the poem, ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?.

Discuss the appropriateness of the title of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”-Who makes the comparison? Who is compared to a summer’s day’? What are the blemishes of summer?

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”-Whom does the poet compare his friend to? What are the qualities that make the person superior to summer?

“Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimmed;” What is the figure of speech used in ‘eye of heaven’? What makes the dim? What does the poet imply in the above lines?

“And every fair from fair sometime declines”-From which poem is the line quoted? Who is the poet? Briefly explain the meaning of the quoted line. How does the poet promise to immortalize his friend’s beauty?

“By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed.”-What makes Shakespeare mention ‘nature’s changing course’? Discuss.

“But thy eternal summer shall not fade / Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;” Whose ‘eternal summer’ is being referred to here? What does ‘eternal summer’ mean? What conclusion does the poet draw at the end of the poem?

“Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, / When in eternal lines to time thou grow’ st,”—Who is the poet? Who is the ‘thou’ here? What shall death not be able to brag about and why?

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to three.”-From where have the lines been taken? How does the speaker immortalise his friend?

“… and this gives life to thee.”-What does this’ refer to? Who is referred to by ‘thee’? How does this’ give life?

What does the poet say about summer in the sonnet “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” How is the poet’s young friend different from a summer’s day?

Discuss why Shakespeare has called his friend more temperate than the summer season.

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