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summary of the poem grandmother


Ray Young Bear is an American–Indian poet and a novelist. His many poems deal on the theme of his own culture and create his identity through the presentation of his own tribe’s character. In the poem ‘Grandmother’, he presents his grandmother as a person living in his memory. He draws a clear picture of his loving and inspiring grandmother by using many images.

The poem begins with the poet’s claim; he can identify his grandmother even if he sees her shape from a mile away. He has become so familiar with the shape that distance does not matter. Grandmother has a “purple scarf and a plastic shopping bag”, which make it easier for the poet to identify her. He further thinks that his grandmother’s touch on his head is sufficient to identify her. Her hands have the smell of root, by which the poet can identify her. Similarly, if the poet hears the voice of grandmother, he can identify her. Moreover, her voice enters him and remains there permanently just like the fire that remains in ashes even after there is no flame.
The poet feels very nostalgic towards his grand mother. His grandmother used to love so much that her memory imprinted in his mind. Her absence created a nostalgic (slight sadness) feeling in him. Though his grandmother does not exist in physical world, she resides permanently in the poet’s memory. Any happening, whether it is related to the sense of smell, hearing, see or sound refreshes his memory. The poet implies that the memory of nearest and dearest ones remains for ever. If it is related to ancestry, it remains permanently and compels anyone to remember whether one wants or not. As grandmother is the past that symbolizes history of ancestors, it becomes excessively difficult for him to forget. The poet reflects about dominating condition of Mesquaki tribe by white population. He provides the painful awareness to the identity loss or the search for the identity.

Model Answers
1. What image do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and fox Indian tribe of North America? To what sense do they appeal?
Ans:The poem “grandmother” by ray young bear presents the feeling of a poet who does not have his grandmother at present time. In presenting the memory of his grandmother. The poet has used numerous image. Appeals to our different sense organ-sense of smell. Sense of touch. Sense of hearing and the sense of sight.
The images in the poems are her shape the purple scarf. The plastic shopping bag warm and damp hands the smell of root a voice coming from rock and a sleeping fire. These image appeals to our different sense organs. Many of the images appeals to the sense of sight. Her shape the purple scarf. The plastic shopping bag and a sleeping fire appeal to the sense. A voice coming from rock appeals to the sense of hearing. Warm and damp hands appeal to the sense of touch. The image smell of root appeals to the sense of smell. Indeed the poem is full of images appealing to all the sense organs except the sense of taste.
2. How does the speaker feel towards his grandmother? In what words or a line does he makes his felling clear?
Ans: “Grandmother” by Ray young bear presents the feeling of a poet whose mind is full of grandmother’s memory. The grandmother used to love him so much in the past that her memory is printed in almost all his sense organs. Because of the memory. He feels nostalgic towards his grandmother. Whatever he does is stitched with the color of his grandmother.
The poet states his nostalgic feeling throughout the poem. The beginning itself is important to under stand the felling towards his grandmother. She resides permanently in eyes of the poet. As a result the poet can know her wisely ever if he sees her shape from a mile away. His nostalgic feeling is expressed in other lines too. His claim of identifying his grandmother with the help of other sense organs also suggests that he is nostalgic towards his grandmother. Of all his assertion, the one expressed towards the last is very important. In the last few lines he says that the words of grandmother remain inside him permanently. The grandmother was the sources of inspiration to him. She was the one who used to love him very much. Because of her memory the poet feels nostalgia reminds him of his grandmother frequently.
Questions for further practice:
· Write a short summary of the poem ‘Grandmother’.
· How does a speaker feel towards Grand mother?
· What are the things that Ray Young Bear remembers about his grandmother?
· What activities of his grand mother does the poet recollect in this poem?
· What is the main idea of the poem’ Grandmother’?

2. The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner W.B. Yeats


W.B. Yeats (1865-1939) is an Irish poet and dramatist. He was a leader of the Irish Renaissance and one of the foremost writers of the 20th century. Yeats is the greatest versatile poet of the century. Yeats was at heart a dreamer, a visionary fascinated by folk-lore, and the superstitions of the Irish peasantry. He was a symbolist poet. His best known collections from the latter period are: ‘The Tower’ (1928), including the poems ‘Sailing to Byzantium ’and ‘Leda and Swan’ and ‘The Winding Stair’ (1929). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for the literature in 1923.

This poem “The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner” (1939)’ is a revised version of Yeats earlier poem ‘The old Pensioner’ (1890). This poem presents the poet’s past memories of his youth which became more painful when he looks at his present state and contrasts his time of youth with his state in the old age.
In the first two lines of the first stanza, the poet talks about his present situation and compares his life with the broken tree. In the rest of the other four lines of the first stanza, he talks about his past. He says that when he was young man, he was powerful and the people used to talk to him either about love or politics. But now nobody cares him. He is no more powerful and young enough to attract the youths. He splits on the face of the time because the time has transfigured him into this miserable condition. Thus, the poet compares present situation with that of past psychologically.

In the second stanza of the poem, the poet draws the contrastive picture of youth and old age. The poet says that the lads (youths) are playing in the field but cruelly they don’t notice the presence of the old man. Some times they behave like rascals which expose the extreme of human cruelty. These youths do not care the old man (the poet). The old man says that his companions are against the time that has transfigured him into the old age.

In the last stanza of the poem, the poet remembers the romantic circumstances of his youth. When he was young, many beautiful girls used to propose him. Many girls used to enjoy talking to him. But now he has become old and either girls or women turn their face towards him. He again compares himself with the broken tree. All the romantic experiences of his past are limited into his memory now. At present, he can’t enjoy as he used to when he was young. Thus, the poet is furious (angry) against the time that changed him into an old man.

Thus, this poem is all about an old retired man (pensioner) who laments on the loss of his youth and its charm. In his retired life the old man is unhappy because he is unnoticed in the society. So, he beautifully as well as symbolically compares his life with a broken tree. Altogether there are three stanzas in the poem. We can find the use of refrain. The poet ends the poem cursing or splitting on the face of the time that is responsible for his present miserable condition.

Questions for further practice:
· Why does the poet show his anger against time?
· Mention any three things the old man laments about why is he sad about them?
· What is the speaker lamenting on?
· How and why does the old pensioner lament?
· Explain the significance of the refrain in the poem ‘The lamentation of the old Pensioner’?
· Write an essay on ‘Youth and Age’

(For further practice go through the textbook questions ‘The Heritage of the Words’- page no. 26)
Model Answers
1. What does the poem add to our knowledge of the old man (his character, attitude, circumstance)?
“The lamentation of Old pensioner” describes the situation of any old person who used to have very romantic life in the past. The speaker is an old man whose past was very romantic. Thought comparison and contrast of past and present, the poem describes various aspects of and old man-his character, attitude, and circumstance. The presentation is realistic and has universal appeal.
Old age means approach to death. When one reaches to this stage, no one takes care. The person does not get proper shelter even from the relatives. So his situation is very pathetic. In such situation, he remembers romantic days. He fined a great difference in between his present and past, which creates anger in him. The happenings in the surrounding like boy’s enjoyment and women’s negligence. When the speaker finds him being neglected, he can’t bear it and gets furious with the factor responsible for it. Eventually he spits at its face.
The presentation of setting along with exposition. Retrospection and climax hints that a person becomes hot tempered at old age. When his wishes are not met, he gets angry. The circumstances are not becomes just like a scarecrow at this age.