Sunday, 27 April 2014

           General, your tank                                                                                 Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht is a German playwright and poet and he always wrote for the cause of the humiliated and the offended and always extolling the greatness of the ordinary man. His most famous plays are: Life of Galileo, Mother Courage and Her Children, Mr.Puntila and his Man Mati, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Good Person of Szechwan. These plays were expressions of his resistance against the Nazi and Fascist movements.
 His poems are remarkable for their pithiness, variety and choice of themes. Simple and direct his poems bear testimony to his genius for language. ‘General, Your Tank’ is a part of his famous anti-war poem “From a German War Primer”.
 In this poem ‘General, Your Tank’ Bertolt Brecht expresses his strong and abiding faith in the greatness of mankind. The poem is a satire on war and military generals. The figure of speech in the poem is irony. In every war, it is the poor soldier who fights and gets killed bringing glory and praise to the lazy fatty Military Generals. The ordinary soldier is always forgotten and the General is raised to the status of a hero on winning the war. Bertolt Brecht skilfully uses irony and satire throughout the poem and convinces the reader of the foolishness of the Military Generals and also the futility of war. Bertolt Brecht’s poem is addressed to a Military General and tells him with contempt that his ‘tank is a powerful vehicle because it can destroy forests and kills hundreds of men. But alas! it has a defect. Without a man driving the vehicle, it becomes as useless as the General who is helpless without the soldiers fighting bravely under him.
 Again the poet tells the General that his bomber plane is very powerful because it flies faster than wind can carry heavy things but it is useless without a mechanic who is an ordinary soldier in the force. Brecht uses irony to show how dehumanized and made helpless man by machines.  Man has become a slave of machines. But machines are invented by man and machines are utterly useless without man. Yet it is a tragedy that machines use man as its slave because all skilful, creative and useful works are being done by machines! Finally, the poet tells the General that man is very useful for the General because the General uses soldiers and machines equally in the war and more importance is given to the machines! The soldiers can fly and kill people. But he also has one defect. The defect is that man can think. In Military, thinking is a defect! If the Generals have intelligence to think they will not fight and put an end to war by discussion!
1.      Comment on the use of irony and satire in the poem
2.      Evaluate ‘General, Your Tank’ as an anti-war poem
3.      What, according to the poet, are the inherent weaknesses of apparently powerful machine?

     How Do I Love Thee                                 Elizabeth Barret Browning

Elizabeth Barret Browning is a great English poet and belongs to the Victorian age. She is the wife of the great English poet Robert Browning. The best poems of Barret Browning are the love poems she has written for Robert Browning. ‘How Do I Love Thee’ is one among them. She says, “poetry is the enthusiasm of the understanding, encompassing everything”.

 ‘How Do I Love Thee’ is a beautiful love poem in English literature. It is addressed to her lover.  This love poem is like a prayer a devotee offers to her god. To such a divine height the level of her love from her beloved is exalted.
 She asks him how she loves him. This question comes from her heart of intense love. She does not know the depth her love for him. It is so infinite and boundless like an ocean of love.  Now she counts the ways she can love him. Her love is deep, noble and eternal. Thus she proves that her love has three dimensional nature. Again her love is spiritual and she can attain her salvation only through her love. The very essence of her life is to attain this salvation through the union with her lover. She says that she loves to the level of the simple necessities of daily life such as day and night. Human life on the earth is virtually impossible without the sunlight and the sleep at night. She says that she loves him as men fight for their freedom which is the birth-right of every person and the freedom fighter knows it is his duty to fight for freedom.

 Again she tells her lover that she loves him as people put their heart and soul into the struggle they are doing and they don’t need any praise for their effort, because it is their duty. She further says that her love for him has the passion of her childhood sorrows and faith. Her love for him is as pure and holy as her love for her dead mother and brother in her childhood days. She also tells him that her love for him is so inevitable necessities of life such as her breath, smiles, tears and all her life. Finally while concluding the poem she tells him that if God allows her, she will continue to love him even after her death! She immortalizes her love for her beloved.
1.       “My soul can reach, when feeling out ofsight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace”  - Explain
2.      – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death” – Who is the speaker and to whom the speech is delivered and why?
3.      “I love thee freely, as men stgrive for Right;
  I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise” - Explain

LONGING                                                                                       MATTHEW ARNOLD

Matthew Arnold is a great English poet, critic and essayist. His most famous critical works are ‘Essays in Criticism’ and ‘Culture and Anarchy’.  ‘Longing’ is a beautiful love poem written by Matthew Arnold.  It expresses the lover’s intense longing (desire) for the presence of his beloved. The narrator asks his lady love to come to him in his dreams so that all his worries and miseries he suffered during the day can be eliminated and he will be happy and cheerful.  He invites her to come to him as she had come to him a thousand times in his dreams in the past and she came to him like a messenger from heaven!

The narrator tells her that she is kind to others and therefore he wants the same kindness from her. He wants that she must show her kindness to him by visiting him in his dreams at night so that the hopelessness of the day can be compensated. Now the narrator tells her that her visit to him at night was only a dream and not real! So he wants her to prove that she is real. Therefore she should come to him at night and part or comb his hair and kiss his face and must say ‘My love why are you suffering?’ Only then the narrator can believe that she is not a mere dream but real one.  “And let me dream it truth” means the intensity of the narrator’s desire for the presence of his dear one.
1.      “Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!    - Explain
2.      “Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth” – Who is the speaker and to who he is talking?
                                                            Why didn’t she come to him in the past?

When We Two Parted                                                            Lord Byron

‘When We Two Parted’ is a famous love poem written by Lord Byron, who is a great English poet and satirist. This love poem belongs to ‘break up’ or ‘missing you’ love poem. Lord Byron was one of the most representative of Romantic poets in English literature. In this poem ‘When We Two Parted’ the narrator tells us how he was jilted by the infidelity of his beloved.

The narrator of the poem is a man who loves his dear one in secret. But she has deceived him and the narrator suffers mental conflict of love and hatred for his lady love. The narrator still loves her in silence. He says that when they two parted in silence and tears. When she gave him the parting kiss, he felt her cheek pale and grew cold. It shows her guilty conscience. But the narrator did not understand. Later people talked to him about her and only then did he realize that she has betrayed him. It was like a death-knell for him. But she is still his darling and he cannot forget her love. Thus the narrator suffers severe mental pain because he is divided between his intense love and hate for her. In silence he grieves because she can easily forget her deception and he cannot. Still he loves her and he says that if he should meet her after long years, he will certainly greet her with silence and tears.
Questions 1.   “Truly that hour foretold
                        Sorrow to this! – That hour foretold what?  Why the speaker is sad?
                   2.  “In secret we met:
                      In silence I grieve”  Who is the speaker and what is the reason for his grief?
    3.”They name thee before me,
        A knell to mine year;” – Explain


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