CBSE Class 11 Literature -Hornbill – The Laburnum Top — Explanation and Questions and Answers

The Laburnum Top by Ted Hughes

A word about Ted Hughes .. Ted Hughes(1930- ’98) was a British poet of great eminence. His poems meant for children are simple, short and innocent. For long years, Ted Hughes was the Poet Laureate of Britain. Unfortunately, his marriage to the American author Sylvia Plath was marred by discord and disagreements. Sylvia committed suicide at 30, the literary world pinned the blame on Ted. But, Ted continued to promote Sylvia’s literary legacy with remarkable sincerity. Ted’s poems touch the heart for their spontaneity and vibrancy.
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The poem

1st stanza ..Laden with its foliage, and flowers, the Laburnum tree stands silently in a quiet September afternoon. The environment is so eerily calm. Some leaves have started to yellow, and the seeds have all fallen off the tree.

2nd stanza .. The tiny bird, Goldfinch flies in from nowhere and perches itself at the tip of a branch. Its whole body shakes naturally in continuous small movements. In a sudden burst of energy, it hops from one stem to another. It goes into the dense interior of the tree till it vanishes from the poet’s sight. Its quick movement seems very similar to the way an alert lizard moves quickly to grab its prey.  All along, the Goldfinch makes a shrill, high-pitched sound. It seems, the tiny bird appears to shake the tree out of its indolence. Its agility and energy seem to fire up the dormant Laburnum tree.

3rd stanza …The bird makes its return. It hops to the tip of a branch, and in the flick of an eye, it flies off. The bird has a typical black color head with a bright yellow pair of wings. When it flies off, it shows its face fleetingly.
The Laburnum tree falls quiet suddenly. Silence pervades again.
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Question and answers ….
Think it out ..
Q1. What do you ………… There is all-round calm at the start of the poem. At the end, the calm returns to the tree—just the way it was before the brief visit of the Goldflinch.
Q2. To what is the ……………. The comparison of the bird’s movement is to the lizard’s jerky sliding along a branch, and to the power of an engine.

Q3. What made the poet to take notice of the Goldflinch and what thoughts passed through his mind on seeing it?

The tree was as quiet as possible. There was no breeze to move its leaves or branches. The environment appeared to be in a stupor too. With the Nature having fallen so quiet, the poet too felt an unusual sense of tranquility. The flying in of the goldfinch, so tiny in size, disturbed the passivity dramatically. It hopped from branch to branch, shrieked in its usual way, did all it could to shake the tree out of its sleep, and flew off. It’electrified the environment around the tree, although for a few moments. After it was gone, everything fell deafeningly quiet. The effect of such a tiny bird surprised the poet greatly. He penned the lines in amusement and wonder.
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