A Tiger in the Zoo by Leslie Norris
A tiger is the lord of the jungles. He is the most ferocious, and the most dreaded. He is as agile , he is muscular. But, humans trap them using their superior brain. Once trapped, the tiger is either brutally killed, or kept in zoos as showpieces. The trauma of the caged tiger knows no limits. This poem captures the angst and anger of a trapped tiger.
The first stanza ..
He stalks in his ……………. Quiet rage
[Inside the cage]
Meaning …..These lines describe the pitiable state of an encaged tiger condemned to a life in captivity in a cramped enclosure. For an animal that lords over a vast swathe of jungle unchallenged and at will, pacing the small cage from one end to another is a revolting experience. The tiger has its body with the characteristic stripes, and its paw is soft to make it move in the jungle surreptitiously, so that he can catch its prey unawares. When the tiger walks up and down the small cage, he must be extremely angry with himself and those who robbed him of his freedom.
Second Stanza .. He should be lurking ………….plump deer pass
[Inside the jungle]
Meaning .. Deer come to drink water to the water holes scattered in the jungle. Tall grass grow in the vicinity offering the tiger to lay in wait for the well-built healthy deer. He jumps onto it to grab it.
Third stanza .. He should be snarling ………..Terrorizing the village
[In the fringes of the jungle]
Meaning .. Tigers routinely intrude into human habitations close to the jungle. Normally, they prey on cows, calves, goats, and other domestic animals. The tigers make an aggressive grown showing their teeth to preempt any challenge by the inhabitants. The villagers bolt themselves inside their rooms to prevent being attacked by the tiger.
Stanza 4 …But he is locked in a concrete …………Ignoring visitors
[Inside his cell]
Meaning .. The tiger is kept inside a robust concrete enclosure. His strength is futile under these circumstances, because he can’t break open the sturdy fencing. While pacing to and fro along the length of his cell, he doesn’t bother to look at the humans gaping at him in delight. In the jungle, such visitors would have been prized prey for him.
Stanza 5 … He hears the last voice ………..At the brilliant stars
[Inside his cell]
Meaning .. Quite mournfully, he hears the sound of the patrolling cars that go past his cell as dusk falls. He looks at the night stars, but his mood is insipid and indifferent.
Learning words used in the poem and in the explanation…
Meaning 1 .. Stride somewhere in a proud, stiff, or angry manner – This is meaning relevant to this poem.
Meaning 2 .. Harass or persecute (someone) with unwanted and obsessive attention. The man was arrested for stalking the woman tennis star.
Meaning 3 .. Pursue or approach stealthily – The cat stalked the rat in total darkness.
Lurk .. It means to be present in a latent or barely discernible state, although still presenting a threat. The life of a CRPF Jawan is far from safe in Kashmir. Danger of suicide bombers stalks him all the time.
Words used in the explanation ..
Surreptitiously .. It means — In a way that attempts to avoid notice or attention; secretively. Seeing the teacher very angry, the two boys who had not done their homework slipped from the class surreptitiously.
Teachers and students are welcome to post their questions and comments.