The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost –Analysis

 

Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) was an American who scaled great heights of popularity among his native Americans, but among the vast number of English poetry readers who read his poems for pleasure and as a pastime. Like many other English poets of his time, he adored Nature and loved delving into the many riddles it offered. Frost’s own life was full of non-conventional decisions and a few twists and turns. At one stage, he even worked as a cobbler. But, by the time he wrote this poem, he had scaled great heights in the literary world. Perhaps, this poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ was written when he was in a reminiscent mood.

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The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alexander Baron

The Man Who Knew Too Much by Alexander Baron –Reassessing Private Quelch

Private Quelch, the army recruit around whom the story ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ has been written, is a much maligned person. This story forms part of the English text book in countless schools across the world. Sadly, students and teachers often treat this profoundly learned person of astounding scholarship and boundless energy with mockery, calling him boastful, vainglorious, arrogant, pretentious etc.

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Virtually True by Paul Stewart

Virtually True by Paul Stewart

1. The newspaper headline screamed ‘Sebastian Shultz’. It was an unusual name to make the headline.
2. The person reading the newspaper was a woman whose face behind the paper. She was an elderly woman who apparently breathed with a little difficulty.
3. The newspaper story was about Shultz, the 14-year-old London school lad, who had come out of his coma the day before. His miraculous turn around had baffled the doctors, who had assumed the near-dead medical condition to drag on and on indefinitely.
4. I was curious because I had met a boy of this name before. I leaned forward to read the story in the newspaper in the woman’s hands.
5. A motor accident six weeks ago had nearly killed Shultz. From the accident site, he was carried to the General Hospital battling for his life. The doctors did their best to revive the boy, but he defied all their efforts. As he lay unconscious in the hospital bed, the doctors had no way but to inform Shultz’s parents that their boy had slipped to coma.
6. In the press conference, Mrs. Shultz, the mother profusely appreciated the untiring efforts of the doctors to resuscitate her son, but, at the same time, she admitted that his condition could only revive through a miracle.
7. It now appeared that the miracle had happened. …..
8. As the woman’s hand moved to clear the view, I could see from the photo that the boy was none other than Sebastian. I was soon lost in thought trying to figure out how such a tragedy had come to pass.
9. I pondered the travails of Sebastian Shultz in the hospital bed where he had remained immobile for days clinging to the last thread of life. His struggle made me anguished.
10. I stared out of the train window and began to imagine the sequence of events that had led to the tragedy.
11. A month ago, I had spent nearly the whole of a Saturday afternoon going round the Computer Fair.
12. My father is a computer enthusiast. He has a Pentium computer that can paint, play music, create displays, and even help me in my homework.
13. The most exciting features it has are the games – Tornado, Mebabash, Black Belt, Kyerene’s Kastle etc. When I played, it made me feel I was in the midst of the real action.
14. My father had a strong fascination towards the many new ideas, products and gadgets the fast-changing world of computers was churning out in quick succession. To have a first-hand feel of all these, we had been to the Computer Fair. We bought an array of gadgets with mind-boggling capabilities. Among them were the virtual reality visor, gloves, and some inter-active psycho-drive games. The visor and the glove offered very astonishing visual effect besides manipulating our mental faculties.
15. We later realized some of them were ‘used’ items.
16. But, that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. No sooner had we got home, than I began to explore my high-tech toys. The first game I played was named, ‘Wildwest’.

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The Unknown Citizen By W. H. Auden

The Unknown Citizen
By W. H. Auden
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W.H. Auden, the American poet of British origin, wrote ‘The Unknown Citizen’ in 1939. This was shortly after he migrated to the United States. The poem appeared in The New Yorker in 1939. One year later, it was included in Auden’s collection ‘Another Time’. Since then, countless readers have read and enjoyed this satirical poem that blisters with sarcasms against the practice in America and elsewhere of reducing all their citizens to a collection of cryptic statistical numbers.

Central theme
The American system of politics, governance and social welfare uses a set of identification tag to collect, store, monitor and analyze the state of affairs of a citizen. Functional, accurate and scientific and user-friendly this system may be, but, the way it squeezes the most illustrious citizen and the most ordinary one through the same sieve makes it appear inhuman, brutal, insensitive and archaic. This method of cataloging citizens has no regard or room for the feelings, aspirations, sorrow, happiness, love, and excitement that a citizen experiences from his cradle to his grave. The system has no room for hero worship, nor has it any provision to castigate the most hideous characters. Abraham Lincoln, the iconic revered American had one set of numbers just as President Kenney’s assassin Lee Harvey Oswald had another set. This indifference and aloof nature of the number-letter based identification of individuals disturbed Auden. Through his pen and his sense of irony, he revolted against it in his poem ‘The Unknown Citizen’.
The poem is a stinging indictment of the American way of life and politics. The poem is an epitaph of a man who is identified by ‘JS/07/M/378’. This is the Social Security number the state has ascribed to him. No doubt, the number has everything about the man, but only externally. His education, job, spending habits, state of health, his material possessions, family size, participation in the country’s war etc. are all coded into these set of numbers. Auden conjures up an imaginary administrative monster – the Bureau of Statistics – that does the statistics collection, and collation job remorselessly, like a heartless robot.
‘Individualism’ is unknown to the Bureau of Statistics. Auden’s hero had led a ‘normal’ life with no blots, no brush with the law, had spent liberally, but judiciously, and worked hard till his last day in office, and had registered as a soldier when the call came without asking the justness of the war. By all accounts, he had led an ‘exemplary’ life, exactly akin to the ideal American’s ways. How did the state take note of this lifelong toil? Through a set of numbers! This shatters the ‘soul of his ideal citizen’. Such short-shrift given by the bureaucracy is demeaning and hurtful.

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Keeping it from Harold by P.G. Woodhouse

Keeping it from Harold
by P.G. Woodhouse

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Full text explained in appropriate words ….

Para 1 … This is a scene in Bill Bramble’s house. The highly gifted son Harold sits at the table and addresses his mother Mrs. Bramble, “Ma!”. She is a nice little woman with a rather mediocre brain. She dotes on her academically brilliant son. For her, the world revolves around her husband, Mr. Bill Bramble and her son, Harold. Harold has a book kept open on the red table cloth of the table. He is somewhat lost in thought while reading the book.
Para 2 .. The mother lovingly answers, “Yes, dearie?’.
Para 3 … Harold asks, “Will you hear me?”
Para 4 … Mrs. Bramble took the book.
Para 5 .. She answers, “Yes, mother will hear you, precious.” Mrs. Bramble had developed the habit of answering her son in the third person, perhaps as a show of her excessive affection towards him.
Para 6. .. Harold is growing up. His mother’s mannerism makes him uncomfortable. He resents the way his mother addressed him in the third person, which implied that she still treated him as a toddler.
He frowns, being discomforted with her mother’s response.
Para 7 … Harold clears his throat and fixes his gaze on the cut-glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Para 8 … Harold recites the first line of the poem, “Be good, sweet maid.” It was devoid of emotion.
Para 9 … Mrs. Bramble is worried at the hard work put in by Harold for his studies. Sympathizing with her studious son, she advises him to go for a half an hour saunter down the river side to refresh himself.
Para 10 …. Harold thought over his mother’s suggestion and decided to abide by her advice. He quietly stepped out of the front door.
Para 11 … Harold was an extraordinarily talented child. He was impeccable in his manners too. Mrs. Bramble often wondered how she could have given birth to such an adorable child, when neither her husband nor she had even a fraction of Harold’s intellectual caliber. But her elation was also shrouded by sadness. Harold’s father was in a profession that was not befitting for a boy like Harold. This mismatch between Harold’s all-round goodness was somewhat disconcerting to the parents. Deep in their hearts, the Brambles felt the profession that bread and butter and butter was lowly. With a sense of inferioroty and indignation, they decided to keep this fact away from Harold. However, Mrs. Bramble felt mean and distressed at her attempt to keep her son in dark about his father’s profession.
Para 12 … When Harold was a baby, this fact never bothered the parents. But, he grew up to a fine, well-behaved boy. His blossoming talent became evident when he won two prizes at the Sunday school. When the Bramble’s were in the midst of this dilemma, the curate of the local parish came into suggest that the nature of Bramble’s job must be hidden from Harold.
Despite the huge popularity of boxing among the people, it was perceived to be rather a boorish sport, not meant for the gentry.
Para 13 … The situation headed for the worse when Major Percy Stokes, brother of Mrs. Bramble, dropped in for a cup of tea. He was a man who was given to speaking boastfully and indiscreetly. During the chat, he spoke in a rather demeaning tone about Bramble’s profession. Percy took this opportunity to remind his sister to ensure Harold never got to know of his father’s profession.
Para 14 .. Mr. Bramble, an embodiment of civility and politeness, readily succumbed to the persuasiveness of Major Stokes. Bramble had always been like this. When Harold was born, he did not insist on giving the baby the name chosen prior to the birth. Instead he gave the name Harold to the baby boy, because his wife wanted so.
Para 15 .. When it became certain that his wife was in the family way, he chose the names ‘John’ after Mr. John. S. Sullivan (If it was to be a son) and ‘Marie’ after Miss Marie Lloyd (if it was to be a daughter). Finally, it was his wife whose choice prevailed and the boy got the name ‘Harold’ instead of ‘John’. On this matter Mr. Bramble gracefully ceded ground to his loving wife.
Para 16 … Bramble endeared him to one and all by his cool temperament and cheerful exterior.
Para 17 .. One thing that caused him much disquiet was his profession — he was a professional boxer. Boxing needs more brawn than brain.
Para 18 .. Before the arrival of Harold, Bramble had been proud of his profession as a boxer. In his profession, he was as much feared as he was respected. His redoubtable boxing acumen had earned him name, fame and money. He looked back at his exploits with satisfaction.
For the millions of boxing lovers in London and beyond, he was a legend. He was as formidable inside the ring as he was adorable outside, among his fans.
His trademark ‘left hook’ was acclaimed by sports writers.
Para 19 … With the coming of Harold, his flamboyance began to wane. He began to avoid publicity and media attention.
Para 20 … As Harold grew up, his talent blossomed. It brought much joy to his parents. But, the boy’s extra-ordinary talent affected the Brambles in a rather unintended way. Before their prodigious Harold, they felt small, and un-fit for the task of parenting such a hugely gifted child. This was a very awkward situation for the father and mother to be in. They applauded and, at times, sulked at the accomplishments of their gifted son.
Para 21 … Harold excelled in academics, much the same way his father Bill excelled in the ring. Harold had singing talent too. He sang at the choir.
Para 22 … The young boy studied in the local private school. He wore the school’s academic cap and behaved dignifiedly. He was ten then. He won prizes in spelling and dictation. Harold had been told by his father that he worked as a commercial traveler. For a boy of such caliber and refined taste, to be told that his father was the boxer ‘Young Perky’ — the embodiment of brawn, rage and brute force idolized by boisterous crowds — was too unfair and uncharitable.
Para 23 … Harold blossomed in his school with his multi-faceted genius, quite oblivious of the real profession of his father. Bill had a square jaw and a slightly distorted nose. Their brick-red house stood apart from other houses. Harold was too focused in his studies to bother about his father’s real profession. He had no time for this. Days went by.

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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar 

1a. Difference between ‘killing’, ‘murder’ and ‘assassination’.

Killing …It means an act of causing death, especially deliberately.

a. The killing of large number of cows became necessary after Mad Cow Disease spread in the area.

b. Killing of Maoists will not be very effective to curb their menace. Some innovative political approach would perhaps be more fruitful.

Murder .. It means the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.

a. The murder of the lonely couple caused heightened anxiety in the entire hill town.

b. Rigging an election is nothing but murder of democracy.

Assassination …It means the murder of an important person for political or religious reasons.

a. The assassination of President Kennedy had plunged the entire America in grief. b. The ring of armed guards could not prevent the assassination of the prime minister.

2. List of assassinated leaders. Rajiv Gandhi, Benajeer Bhuto, Benigno Aquino of Philippines

3. Why they were assassinated .. Rajiv Gandhi .. He was shot in point blank range by a LTTE supporter. It was an act of revenge by the Sri Lanka-based insurgency organization for India’s armed intervention against it. Benajeer Bhutto. .. She was assassinated by un-known groups. Taliban was suspected to be involved in the act because she had taken firm stand against it. Benigno Aquino …

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Introductory note… Julius Caesar (100BC – 44BC)

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