(i). Who is the speaker of the above lines? Why is his path filled with roses?
Ans. The speaker of the above lines is a national hero. He is looked upon as a patriot. He is given a rousing welcome, when he comes Roses are strewn all over his path in his honour.
(ii). What significance does the line "A year ago on this very day" hold in the context of the poem?
Ans. The line “A year ago on this very day” is significant because it helps the readers to grasp the speaker's glory filled past. This line tells us that the speaker is talking about a past event that happened exactly a year ago.
(iii) Which figure of speech is prominent in "with myrtle mixed in my path like mad"? What does myrtle symbolize here?
Ans. Alliteration is the figure of speech used in this line, "m" sound is repeated thrice -'myrtle", mixed and 'mad'. The flower myrtle is white in color and symbolizes respect. It means that the people of the patriot's town used to respect him a lot.
(iv)Who are they in the following line? What light does the line throw on them?
They had answered, "And afterword, what else?"
Ans. 'They', in the line given above, referred to the crowd of people who had gathered to welcome the speaker. This line indicates hero worship. People are so intoxicated with enthusiasm that they are willing to go any extent to serve their hero.
(v) What kind of reception had the speaker received then? How can you say so?
Ans. The speaker was given the most astonishing reception. Almost everybody came to welcome him. Bells rang to announce his coming, roses mixed with myrtle were showered on him. The church spires were decorated with beautiful flags. Thus, the speaker received a grand welcome.
(i) Who is I in the above extract? What does leaping at the sun signify?
Ans. The speaker is 'I ' in the above extract. The sun implies the most difficult object to attain. Leaping at the sun alludes to the mythical story of Icarus. He glued wings with wax and tried to reach the sun. But the heat of the sun melted the wax and Icarus fell to his death.
(ii) Why did the speaker leap at the sun? Which word tells you that the speaker is being regretful?
Ans. The speaker leapt at the sun for the sake of his countrymen. He went beyond his limits to please his countrymen. However, as time went by, his countrymen’s attitude changed. The speaker is regretful for having leapt at the sun. the words that show his regret are: ‘Alack, it was I who leaped at the sun.
(iii) Explain what "harvest" the speaker is referring to?
Ans. According to the speaker, 'Harvest' is referring to the reward he got, for the victory he got for his people. The speaker has reaped the reward of hate, and death, from the same people, who once welcomed him.
(iv) The speaker uses the phrase "loving friends". Do you really consider them loving? Why?
Ans. The speaker trusted people. He calls them loving friends. But his friends turned their backs on him in the hour of his adversity. Nobody is there to comfort and console him. They cannot be considered 'Ioving'.
(v) State whether the speaker feels sad about the past. Give reasons to support your answer.
Ans. The poet feels sad about the past. He recalls the event of a year past with a heavy heart. He regrets having served people who loved him a year ago but now they hate him. Despite his sadness, he is optimistic. He hopes he will be rewarded for his service in heaven.
(i) Compare the scene on the house-tops a year ago and now as mentioned in the extract above.
Ans. A year ago the house-tops were crowded with people. Almost everybody was there to have a glimpse of him. The house-roofs were so full of people that the roofs seemed to sway, But everything has changed over a year's time. There is nobody on the housetops now except for a few suffering from palsy. People have gone to the scaffold to watch him being hanged.
(ii) The speaker says that "there's nobody on the house-tops now-". What according to you has changed the situation?
Ans. There's nobody on the house-tops now because the situation has turned against the patriot. Due to his "year's misdeed" the same public who honoured him as a hero is now ready to put him to death.
(iii) What difference is seen in people's attitudes towards the patriot earlier and now?
Ans. One year ago, he was welcomed by the public with rose and myrtle. However, the same public hurled stones at him after a year. This shows his downfall from a beloved hero to a condemned traitor.
(iv) What is referred to as "the best of the sight"? Why?
Ans. The scene of the execution of the patriot at the Shambles' Gate is the best of the sight. Because the public wants to put him to death for his year's misdeed.
(v) Where is the speaker being taken? Why? State whether this action is justified.
Ans. The speaker is being taken to the gallows to be executed over there. His hands are tied behind his back and he is being dragged through the streets of gallows. Probably he has committed something grave. But the poet does not tell about the misdeed the speaker did. So, it cannot be determined that the punishment is justified. But the speaker thinks it is unjust.
(i) Where is I going in the rain? What does the rain symbolise in the context?
Ans. "I", the patriot, who is going to the gallows in the rain. 'Rain' symbolises misery and misfortune here. The speaker is drenched to a bone and looks very miserable.
(ii) Give the meaning and significance of:
A rope cuts both my wrists behind;
Ans. The speaker is treated in most inhuman way. He is treated like a most hateful traitor. His hands are tied so tightly that ropes are cutting his wrists. It signifies a deep hatred in among public for the patriot.
(iii) Whose forehead bleeds? How? How was he treated earlier?
Ans. The speaker's (patriot's) forehead is bleeding because public have flung stones on him. His hands are tied so tightly that he can not move his hand. So, he cannot touch his blood but feel it flowing down. Earlier, a year ago, roses and myrtle were showered.
iv) How does this extract reflect upon the theme of the fickleness of the public?
Ans. The poem portrays that how love, respect and honour given to someone is momentary and is subject to erratic changes. The centre of the poem is a patriot, who is in a critical situation. Only a year ago, he was acknowledged as god-like by the public. He was given a hero's welcome on his arrival in the town. But today he is being taken to scaffold to be executed.
v) The speaker uses the phrase "my year's misdeeds". How does this phrase add to the ambiguity in the poem?
Ans. The speaker has used this phrase to mean something that remains mysterious and unknown till the end. As he states, people who loved and respected him so much have suddenly started hating him for all he has done during a period of just one year! This period seems to be too short for such a complete change in people’s attitude unless the person, whom they have acknowledged as their icon, does something that completely shatters their trust in him. As the poet does not throw any light on this aspect, we are unable to precisely know anything about it. That is why the phrase “my year’s misdeeds” adds to the ambiguity in the poem.
(i) Where do you think the speaker enters? Where does he go after that?
Ans. A year ago the speaker entered the town to a hero's welcome. Now he is going out of the town to be hanged.
(ii) Explain- "In triumphs, people have dropped down dead." Which figure of speech is used here?
Ans. The speaker means to say that some people died while they were still glorified. Thus they were rewarded by the world. The poet has used alliteration in this line. The 'd' sound in 'dropped down dead' is repeated.
(iii) The speaker says: "I am safer so". Where does he feel safe? Why?
Ans. Even though the world thinks that the patriot has done something wrong, he knew he has done everything he could. Death is not the end. He hopes that since he did not receive the reward for the work he had done in this world, he will be rewarded by god. Thus, the poem reflects Browning's faith in God- "God is in his heaven and all is well with the world".
iv) How does the above extract reflect Browning's optimistic philosophy of life?
Ans. Even though the world thinks that the patriot has done something wrong, he knew he has done everything he could. Death is not the end. He hopes that since he did not receive the reward for the work he had done in this world, he will be rewarded by god. It reflects Browning’s optimistic philosophy of life.
v) How does the poem depict the sudden rise and fall of glory of man?
Ans. The poem depicts the theme of sudden rise and fall of glory of man. Within a span of one year, the patriot experiences both love and lifelessness. One year ago, he was welcomed by the public with roses and myrtles. However the same public hurled stones at him after a year. This shows his downfall from a beloved hero to a condemned traitor.
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