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C.L.M. Poem Questions and Answers, Notes, Summary
I. Answer the following questions briefly:
The second Line “My mother’s life made me a man”
a. Just states a natural phenomenon of a mother giving birth to a son
b. has a hint that he was born at the cost of his mother’s life
(b) has a hint that he was born at the cost of his mother’s life.
The phrase “Her beauty” in line 4 refers to
a. The physical beauty of his mother
b. The ‘beauty’ of his mother’s physical and emotional trauma at the birth of the child
(b) The ‘beauty’ of his mother’s physical and emotional trauma at the birth of the child.
Why does the poet use the present tense in lines 5 and 6?
a. to emphasize that his very existence now is made possible by the death of ‘some of her’
b. to emphasize that every movement of his in his mother’s womb destroyed a part of her life
c. to show that his very birth and life are responsible for his mother’s partial death
(a) to emphasize that every movement of his in his mother’s womb destroyed a part of her life.
What does ‘it’ in line 10 refer to?
‘It’ refers to the life the mother gave to the boy.
“Her beauty” in line 12 refers to
a. his mother’s physical beauty
b. her son, the poet
(b) her son, the poet.
“dusty in the mind” in line 12 refers to
a. the fading memory of his mother in his mind
b. the state of his dead mother’s mind which has forgotten the dear ones left behind
(a) the fading memory of his mother in his mind.
“I am so grown” in line 15 means
a. that he has grown so much physically that she would not be able to recognize him
b. that he has grown so unworthy of all her sacrifice that she would not be able to recognize him
c. both a and b
(c) both (a) and (b).
Which line in stanza 3 suggests that the poet is totally unworthy or ungrateful?
‘She would not know her little son, I am so grown.’
Which phrase in stanza 4 suggests that his concern goes beyond his personal experience?
‘What have I done to keep in mind my debt to her and womankind ?’
“Providing a happier life to one’s mother will repay for all her sacrifice.” Is this what the poet says in lines 21 and 22 ?
The poet says this and also something more. He means that a person should repay his mother not just by making her life better, but by making other women’s lives also better.
Stanza 4 has some very powerful and forceful images.
a) What is compared to a – leech?
The baby inside the mother’s womb…
b) How is it a leech?
It sucks on the life of the mother.
c) What is unusual about the use of the word ‘leech’d’?
The word ‘leech’d is used for a parasite-like creature which feeds on the other and destroys it. Usually, babies who are entirely dependent on their mothers are referred to as leeches. But here the poet feels his mother has suffered a lot with every baby she carried, and hence he has been like a leech when he was in her womb.
d) Why is B in ‘Birth’ capitalized? (line 24)
Birth is a very significant moment in the life of a baby or an individual because it signifies the separation of the baby from the mother and the need for the baby to- fend for itself to a certain extent. It has come out of a warm, protective cave into a cold, harsh world.
e) For whom is birth a hell
a. for the mother (for all her pain and suffering during the birth of her child)
b. for the son (who feels that it was because of his birth that his mother died, though partially)
c. for both
(c) for both.
Note that lines 19 to 26 introduce a series of rhetorical questions. (A rhetorical question is asked for effect rather than to obtain an answer. The answer is very much implied in the question itself.) Lines 19-20 are a good example of a rhetorical question. The meaning of the two lines is,” I have done nothing worth remembering to show my debt to my mother and womankind.”
a) Identify 2 more examples of rhetorical questions.
Lines 21-22: “What woman’s happier life repays/Her for those months of wretched days?”
Lines 25-26: “What have I done, or tried or said / in thanks to that dear woman dead?”
b) Write down the actual meaning of each of them.
Lines 21-22: “I have not repaid my mother for those months of wretched days by making a woman’s life. happier.”
Lines 25-26: “I have not done or tried or said anything to express my thanks to that dear dead woman.”
“man’s lust” in line 29 refers to
a. man’s beastly sexuality
b. man’s lust for power over women
c. both a and b
(c) both (a) and (b).
The poet has used many poetical devices in the last line in order to draw the reader’s attention to it.
a) What typographical deviation is used in the last line? Ans: (c) both (a) and (b).
It is a single exclamatory sentence, unlike the rest that are in stanzas and is written as observations and rhetorical questions.
b) Why, do you think, has he used this deviation?
He has used that form as an answer to all those questions and feelings he has outlined in the stanzas.
c) What figure of speech is used in this line?
A hyperbole. It’s an exaggerated statement highlighting the shame the poet is experiencing. Surely, a grave will not open and his mother will not come to life to put him to shame.
d) Why does the poet want the grave to keep shut?
If his mother were to see him now, or women were to see mankind now, she/they would be ashamed.
e) How does the line end?
The line ends with a regretful plea that the grave should remain shut.
The most dominant feeling of the poet in this poem is:
a. a feeling of guilt
b. a sense of ingratitude
c. a sense of shame
(c) a feeling of shame.
Look at the rhyme scheme of the first stanza. The word ‘began’ rhymes with ‘man’. The rhyme scheme is aa. ‘Birth’ in line 3 rhymes with ‘earth’ in line 4. The rhyme scheme is bb. ’stir’ in line 5 rhymes with ‘her’ in line 6. The rhyme scheme is cc. So, the rhyme scher of the first stanza is aa, bb, cc.
Now work out the rhyme scheme of the remaining 4 stanzas. Start with lines 7 and 8 as dd…
1st Stanza : aa bb cc
2nd Stanza : dd ee ff
3rd Stanza : gg hh ii
4th Stanza : jj kk ll
5th Stanza : mm nn oo
II. Close Study:
Read the following extracts carefully. Discuss in pairs and then answer the
questions given below them.
For all her love, she cannot tell Whether I use it ill or well.
a) Who do ‘I’ and ‘she’ refer to?
T refers to the son, i.e., the poet, and ‘she’ refers to the mother.
b) What does ‘it’ in the second line refer to?
‘It’ refers to the life that the mother has given the son.
c) Why is it that she cannot tell?
She is dead and cannot see whether he lives well or net.
…………….. If we should meet, She would pass by me in the street Unless my soul’s face let her see My sense of what she did to me.
a) Would it be possible for the mother and son to meet each other?
No, since the mother is dead the son is still alive.
b) What is my figure of speech used in the expression ‘soul’s face’?
c) His soul would reveal
a. his sense of gratitude to his mother
b. his sense of ingratitude to his mother
(b) his sense of ingratitude to his mother.
III. Paragraph Writing:
Discuss in pairs/groups of four each the answers to the following questions. Note down the important points!’ for each question and then develop the points into one-paragraph, answers.
The poem describes the poet’s personal experience. Does it stop at that?
- It starts with how the mother gave her beauty to the child and lost a little with every birth.
- She is dead, and the poet feels guilty that he has not used her gift properly.
- When he thinks about how he has helped to make any woman’s life better, he realizes that he has not done anything at all.
- Women all over the world are still exploited, tormented and oppressed by men.
The poet doesn’t stop at his personal experience. There is a strong opinion about women’s right that is communicated in the poem. A woman’s role as a mother, a woman who is made powerless by a man, a woman who has to fight for every right and men who force her into those situations and worse should be ashamed.
Do you like the poem? Why?
- The poet talks about a common event in a very unusual manner.
- Everyone feels indebted to the mother for their birth, but the poet’s intensity of feelings makes it a very poignant experience.
- the poet’s perception of the mother’s sacrifice in giving birth to children is uncommon.
- In return for the mother’s sacrifice, the poet wants to make another woman’s life better. This is a wonderful thought.
1. Pair work.
a) Cite any 3 examples (from your family or the society you live in) of discrimination against women.
- Women are not allowed to dress as they want to.
- They are not allowed to come home late.
- In places of work, they are not given higher responsibilities or posts.
b) Cite any 3 examples of men trampling women’s rights.
- When the woman earns more money, the husband takes charge of it and spends it as he thinks fit.
- In places of political power (municipal corporations and state assemblies), women’s opinions are not given much importance.
C.L.M. Poem Summary in English
This poem expresses love and regrets in a very unusual way. It has to be said that the poem is written to his mother or at least written with his mother in mind.
It starts out by explaining how mother gave him life and died and it continues to explain, how he expresses grief, for his mother cannot see him grown-up and cannot see how his son has lived his life.
The third stanza turns to the idea that even if death could be undone and his mother would be reincarnated it would be of no use because they would not recognize each other.
In the fourth stanza, the whole poem takes an unusual turn for the author thinks that he is in debt to his mother and all womankind for the suffering they need to undergo when bearing the child and when in labour.
He concludes the poem with more feeling of guilt for he thinks he has not repaid the favour of living to her mother and due to that to women in general.
The author thinks that he is also to blame for the fact that men are considered superior to women for he has not done anything about it. In some sense, the author expresses concern over the inequality of sexes.
Even if it could be considered or labelled as a love poem it cannot be compared with the poem beauty for the difference of tone is too great.
C.L.M. Poem Summary in Kannada