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Do not ask of Me, My Love Questions and Answers, Notes, Summary
Do not ask of Me, My Love Comprehension I
When does the speaker realise what he thought about love was not true?
When does the speaker’s idea of love undergo a change, in ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
When he experiences other sorrows and pleasures in the world than what love offered him.
‘That’s the way I imagined it to be,’ suggests
(a) that the speaker’s concept of love is naive.
(b) the speaker’s realisation of realities.
(c) the speaker’s view of love was just a wishful, thinking.
(b) the speaker’s realization of realities.
‘for there are other sorrows in the world than love,’ here ‘sorrows’ refers to miseries
(a) generated by love
(b) caused by poverty and deprivation.
(c) caused by jealousy and envy.
(b) caused by poverty and deprivation.
‘You are beautiful still, my love.’ Here the speaker is expressing his
(a) fidelity to his love.
(b) inability to pay the same undivided attention to his love.
(c) preoccupations with other issues in life than his love.
(b) inability to pay the same undivided attention to his love. (Please note that a and c are also not wrong)
Do not ask of Me, My Love Comprehension II
What does the line ‘those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries’ suggest?
Faiz Ahmad was a Marxist and believed in the idea of an egalitarian society. When he writes, ‘those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries’, he probably means the suffering caused by stark poverty which seems to be a brutal curse on the hapless poor. The phrase ‘countless centuries’ suggests that the poor have no escape from this state of want. At another level, the phrase can be taken as having political allusions. It highlights the betrayal of the founding of Pakistan.
It is to be read as addressed to the nation of Pakistan, which Faiz had embraced with much hope, and with whose political leaders he became disillusioned. The persecution of minorities, martial laws, public floggings and public executions changed the nature of the creation of Pakistan as a nation. The vulnerable were no longer safe in the land created to protect them.
What harsh realities of life have drawn the speaker’s attention much more than the beauty of his beloved?
How is the speaker in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’ affected by the harsh realities of mankind?
What realities of life are experienced in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
The beauty of his beloved cannot keep him riveted to it as other harsher realities of life trouble. him. Pitted against his beloved’s beautiful face, he sees bodies bathed in blood, smeared with dust, and sold from market-place to market-place. He can also see bodies which are afflicted by a number of diseases and bodies from which pus oozes out. That is why, though his beloved’s face is still beautiful, he cannot give his undivided attention to the beauty of the face alone.
What transformation in the perception of love do you see in the poem?
What change in the poet’s attitude towards his beloved do you notice in the poem?
In the poem, the poet’s perception of love changes with time. What reasons does he give for this change?
How does the responsibility of the speaker as a human being change his perception of love in ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
We see that Faiz Ahmad moves from the personal to the political, from the particular to the general in his concept of love in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’. If the poet was confined to the world of romantic love in the past, he now moves out of it to enter the world of love where he can extend his love to his fellow brethren. It is not that he loves his beloved less, but that he knows that the emotion of love is all-encompassing and it need not remain limited to one individual.
In the past, if one individual happened to be his world, now he sees that the world is much more than just an individual. Earlier, if he thought there was no greater joy or sorrow than the ones resulting from his love for the beloved, he now knows that the world has greater promises and greater trials too. Thus, the speaker accepts the truth that in the past he wove around himself an illusory web of love, but now he knows that such a world was far from being real. Thus we see that the poet rises from the material to the ideal in his concept and avowal of love.
Do not ask of Me, My Love Comprehension III
At the end of the poem we feel ‘the speaker does not love his beloved less, but the suffering humanity more’. Do you agree?
“Suffering of humanity is much greater than the love for his beloved”. Explain with reference to the poem.
“The perception of love changes when one realizes one’s responsibilities”. How is this idea brought out in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
Yes, certainly. The very fact that he addresses the poem to his beloved makes it clear that he wants to lay bare before his innermost feelings. Perhaps he has the courage to do so because he knows that his beloved would understand his feelings. If he has to have that confidence in his beloved, then the love between them must be real. It is as if the speaker seeks the approval of his beloved in taking up work that would make him serve the less fortunate in society.
There is a note of pleading when he says, “But I’m helpless too’. It is as if he is saying that unless she understands him and cooperates with him, he will not be able to continue on his path of fighting for the cause of the less fortunate. So, in a way, the poem can be taken as an indirect plea of the poet to the beloved to let him go so that he can take up the national and political cause. So, though at one point of time the poet says that his earlier love seemed to be an illusion, it is clear that he still has a love for the beloved, but is impelled to answer the call of the suffering humanity. It isn’t that he scorns love, but that he understands that it can’t exist in isolation from the world.
The phrase ‘comforts other than love’ suggests the joys of political struggle and comradeship, which are a different and wider form of love. In the repetition of ‘my love’ in the final line, Faiz nevertheless re-emphasises how difficult it is to leave behind his former bliss. This is a poem about the heavy burden of taking on responsibility, and the inner struggle that it entails.
Many critics have pointed out in this poem ‘the beloved’ means not just a lover, but country and ‘ nationalism. With this observation, does the poem read differently?
The word ‘ghazal’ comes from Arabic and has been translated as ‘to talk with women’ or ‘to talk of women’. Much of Faiz Ahmad’s poetry follows the conventions of ghazal, the classical form of traditional Urdu poetry, which had been influenced by Persian literature. But Faiz’s work revolutionises the conventions, extending the meanings of many traditional terms.
For instance, though Faiz often addresses poems to his ‘beloved’, a central word in the ghazal vocabulary in his hands, it refers to both a person and also to the people as a whole, and even to revolutions. He sees the individual as existing within a wider context. The poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’ is not written in a strict Ghazal form, although the phrase ‘my love’ for the beloved is repeatedly used. On the one hand, if the poem can be viewed as a rejection of romantic love, on the other, it is possible to take the beloved as the country or nationalism. It can be argued that Ahmad’s initial love for the country underwent disillusionment as the country was guilty of persecuting the innocent. This persecution was the outcome of narrow nationalism.
Political leaders who did not have a wider worldview upheld narrow nationalism which was opposed by Faiz Ahmad. He upheld universal brotherhood and was of the opinion that even as a citizen is proud of belonging to his own nation, he should be equally conscious of the fact that he is the citizen of the world.
Do not ask of Me, My Love Additional Questions and Answers
I. Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each:
What gave the spring everlasting youth?
The beauty of the beloved.
The speaker says, ‘Do not ask of me, my love, that love I once had for you’, because
(a) his beloved is not as beautiful as she was
(b) he has realized that there are other sorrows around him demanding his attention
(c) he has found a more beautiful lady love.
(b) he has realized that there are other sorrows around him demanding his attention.
“For there are other sorrows in the world than love”. Name the miseries or sorrows the poet refers to.
The other sorrows are of the bodies bathed in blood, smeared with dust, and sold from market place to market place. The sorrow is also of disease-ridden bodies, with festering sores and puss.
What was much more than any other pain for the speaker?
What is more painful for the speaker in the beginning in ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
The sorrow of his beloved.
How was life once upon a time for the speaker?
Life once upon a time was bright, young and blooming.
What does the speaker mean when he says, ‘the world was mine’?
When he was with his beloved, he felt that the world was his which means his beloved was everything for him and he had nothing else to seek in the world. So, with a sense of triumph, he says that the world was his.
‘Life was bright, and young and blooming’. The speaker felt so when he
(a) was not aware of the sorrows around him
(b) was aware of the sorrows around him
(c) when his beloved was with him
(a) was not aware of the sorrows around him.
‘There are other sorrows in the world than love’. Here ‘other sorrows’ refers to
(a) the suffering of the speaker
(b) the suffering of mankind
(c) the suffering of the beloved.
(b) the suffering of mankind.
‘There are other sorrows in the world than love and other pleasures too’. Here, ‘other pleasures’ refers to pleasures derived from
(a) working for the betterment of the suffering people
(b) amassing wealth for oneself
(c) the beauty and the everlasting youth of the beloved.
(a) working for the betterment of the suffering people.
The line ‘my eyes must also turn to these’ expresses the speaker’s
(a) caring for the beloved and empathy for the suffering around him
(b) undivided love for his beloved
(c) undivided empathy for the suffering around him.
(a) caring for the beloved and empathy for the suffering around him.
What did the speaker of the poem tell his beloved not to ask of him, in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
What did the speaker ask his beloved not to expect from him, in ‘Do Not Ask of Me, My Love’?
The speaker of the poem tells his beloved not to ask of him for the love he once had for her.
What does the speaker request his beloved in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
The speaker requests his beloved not to expect the kind of love he had once shown her.
When was the speaker’s life bright, in ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
In ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’, the speaker’s life was resplendent on account of his love for his beloved. ‘Life’ to him looked very young and blooming.
What does the line “those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries” suggest?
The line, “those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries” suggests the bloodshed, diseases, deaths, starvation and misery people were subjected to during the historical wars fought by kings and dictators of different nations on trivial issues related to religion, supremacy of power, greed for wealth and expansion of territories, fame, love for beautiful women and so on.
According to the speaker of the poem, ‘there are other _____ in the world than love’.
In the poem, when the speaker says “you are beautiful still, my love, but I am helpless too” suggests that
(a) he has to address the miseries of human beings
(b) he is in love with another beautiful lady
(c) he is trying to flatter her.
(a) he has to address the miseries of human beings.
What was everything for the speaker in the beginning, in the poem ‘Do not ask of me, My Love’?
In the beginning, according to the speaker, the eyes of his beloved was everything to him.
When did the speaker think that the world was with him?
The speaker thought that the world was with him while he was in the company of his beloved.
In ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’, ‘sorrows’ in the line ‘there are other sorrows in the world than love’ refers to miseries
(a) generated by love
(b) caused by charity
(c) caused by poverty and deprivation.
(c) caused by poverty and deprivation.
II. Answer the following questions in 80 – 100 words each:
Why does the poet plead helplessness in loving his beloved again?
The poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’ is an appeal to his ‘beloved’. Here the beloved is a metaphor for his ‘muse’, or country of his birth. The poet appeals to bis beloved not to demand the same kind of attention that he had once for her because, he has now come to realize that there are other agonies, other than ‘love’, which demand his attention. These other agonies refer to the suffering of the people that he witnessed during the two world wars and during the freedom struggle of his motherland. His pain and anguish at seeing slavery, slave trade, savagery and victimization of the poor, and prostitution for survival, find expression in this poem.
Though the ‘love’ of his beloved compels his attention, he cannot turn a blind eye to the misery and suffering of humanity around him. He does not say that he can no longer love his beloved, but he says he cannot be totally devoted to the love of his countrymen only.
How is the speaker of the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’ affected by the harsh realities of life?
A casual reading of the title and the first half of the poem might sometimes mislead the reader to imagine that the poet is going to describe the beauty of his beloved in romantic imagery. However, a careful close reading of the title and the whole poem will make the reader realize that though the poet expresses a great deal of love and appreciation for the beauty of his beloved, there is a sudden transition in the poem from the poet’s personal love to the love of his people in general. This transition is caused by his increasing awareness and realization that there are many harsh realities besides ‘love’. This realization prompts him to abjure the romantic love of the beloved fora contemplation of the misery of the world.
In the first half of the poem, the speaker declares that his life looks bright and beautiful on account of his beloved. He states that when he is in her company he feels that he will enjoy eternal spring and nothing is more beautiful than the beautiful eyes of his beloved. Moreover, when he is in such a mood, if he is agonized by his love for his beloved, the misery of the world appears inconsequential to him.
However, as he became aware of the harsh realities of life like bloodshed during wars, diseases, poverty, hunger, deprivation, flesh trade, greed for money and power etc., his belief that the love for his beloved would remain eternal, suddenly undergoes a change. He realizes that such love for an individual will be an illusion because there are many other sorrows and pleasures which demand his equal attention and love. Thus, the poet gives up his romantic love of the beloved for contemplation of the misery and other harsh realities of life.
What transformation in the priorities of the speaker do you see in the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’?
As the title readily signals that there is going to be a change in the speaker’s state of mind towards his beloved, this poem presents a transition in the priorities of a romantic lover from an aesthetic enjoyment of the bliss he experiences in the company of his beloved to a benevolent expression of his ‘love’ for those people who are suffering untold miseries on account of man’s greed for wealth, power, lust and many other human vices. He realizes that his love for his ‘beloved’ is not the only one that needs his attention and contemplation in this world, but there are many other sorrows and pleasures that demand his ‘love’ and equal attention. Thus, the priorities of the romantic lover undergo a serious change. He abjures his romantic love for his beloved in exchange for contemplation and probable solace he can give to those people who are suffering untold miseries like deprivation, death, diseases, exploitation of body and mind, etc.
III. Answer the following in about 200 words:
In ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’, the speaker’s statement “you are beautiful still, but I am helpless too”, signifies a major change in the priorities of the speaker. Elaborate.
The opening statement of the poem ‘Do not ask of Me, My Love’ suggests that the theme of the poem is ‘romantic love’. However the theme of the poem is not the expression of a young lover’s passion for his lady love, but it is an expression of a young man’s concern for his fellow men and his intention to shower his compassion and empathy on those who are suffering untold misery for political reasons and human vices. Thus, this poem is a love poem which presents an altogether different dimension of an individual’s love for his fellow beings.
Moreover, the young man, while acknowledging that he had once been passionately in love with his beloved, continues to appreciate the beauty of his beloved. However, he takes the occasion to express that there is a major shift in his priorities. The statement, “You are beautiful but I am helpless too” further clarifies his attitude towards her. He only means to say that his ‘love’ for her remains the same but he can’t express it now with the same intensity because there are ‘other’ people also whose ‘sorrows’ and ‘pleasures’ demand his equal attention. He probably makes this statement because he does not want his ‘beloved’ to think that he is betraying her trust.
A close look at the context in which Faiz Ahmed Faiz recited this poem for the first time offers some clues for understanding the poem. Critics say that this poem is a landmark, for it leads Faiz to a consideration of the misery he saw around him related to the freedom struggle in his homeland. The poem depicts the struggle going on in Faiz’s heart, between love and patriotism.
The poem is in the form of a dramatic monologue. It begins with the speaker’s statement with which he tries to persuade his beloved not to ask him for the kind of love he had once showered on her. The speaker says that his beloved had very beautiful eyes and her beauty and her company made his life resplendent, young and blooming. He believed that it was her beauty which made the spring everlasting. His love for her was so strong that no other sorrow caused him more pain than her sorrow. He had thus come to believe that while he was in her company, the whole world was his.
However, there is a sudden change in his attitude towards his beloved. He says in a confessional and regrettable tone that such possessive love for his beloved was an illusion, and it was probably born out of his wishful thinking than out of reality. It is at this juncture in the poem that he declares that there are other ‘sorrows’ which are equally compelling and ‘pleasures’ which demand his attention. Next, he says that there is so much human misery, bloodshed, disease, deprivation and exploitation of the weak and the oppressed for gratifying man’s vices around him that it would be inconsiderate, and selfish of him if he ignored such ‘sorrows’, and indulged in only appreciating the beauty of his beloved.
Finally, since he does not wish to be accused of betraying the trust of his beloved, he says, “You are beautiful still, my love, but I’m helpless too”, so as to convince her that he still relishes her beauty but can’t dedicate his life for her.
Do not ask of Me, My Love by Faiz Ahmad Faiz A Note on the Poet:
Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984) was born in Sialkot, Punjab. He was an intellectual, revolutionary poet and one of the most famous poets of Urdu language from Pakistan. His varied career as a teacher, army officer, journalist, political leader, trade unionist and as a brilliant poet won him a wide audience. He was a notable member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement (PWM), a powerful cultural movement to shape the struggle against British Imperialism in India. Faiz was a recipient of Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union in 1962. He was, nevertheless, inspired by South Asia’s Sufi traditions.
Faiz’s poems are said to reflect his feelings for his countrymen who lived a miserable life under tyrannical leaders, both before and after independence. Faiz was troubled by the humiliations and sufferings suffered by his countrymen at the hands of the imperialistic British culminating in Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In the twenties and thirties, the formative years of Faiz, India was groaning under imperialistic tyranny. Faiz, along with others, found in his brand of socialism, the only remedy for the state of affairs, but in his political poems he rails also against the mullahs and dictators into whose hands Pakistan had fallen after the demise of the Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed AN Jinnah, who had a tolerant and liberal vision of the new country he had succeeded in achieving in the teeth of opposition by the British and the Hindus.
Jinnah’s vision of Pakistan as a separate Muslim state, but a democratic country, with equal rights for all communities, Muslims and Hindus, residing in the area at the time of partition. However, unforeseen factors, some say engineered by the British, led to large-scale disturbances, mass killing and mass migration of population.
Faiz believed that an understanding of the struggle and participation in it, according to one’s capability, is not only a pre-requisite of life, it is also a pre-requisite of art. Art is a part of this life and an artistic struggle is a great part of this struggle which is never-ending. Thus, there is no substitute for the struggle of the artist. His art is an eternal struggle and unending labour.
In his advice to writers, he said, “a serious writer must denounce all imperialist, racialist and colonialist agencies and to support, admire and love all people in the East and the West, struggling for freedom and basic national and human rights”.
Faiz has said in one of his writings about his ‘love’ affair, “this love affair of mine was a trifling matter. One should think of the agony that the world was going through at that juncture. We should think of our own nation and the sorrows of other people. Thinking of only ourself was a selfish act. This amounted to selfishness”.
Faiz is a poet of beauty and love. His message is the reign of beauty and love in the country. The passion for enjoying the beauty of life, his deep attachment to the love of self and the agony of the world, his love of humanity, his patriotism, his passion for revolution, his sense of justice are all metaphors of the agony of love. That agony of love is the soul of his imagination and feeling, on account of which he illuminates the beauty of both worlds with the desolation of his heart. For Faiz, the testing power of beauty is in its creativity. Beauty is not mere artistic value, it is also a social and moral value.
Do not ask of Me, My Love Summary in English
Faiz is said to have recited this poem in a Mushaira (a poetic symposium). It depicts the struggle going on in Faiz’s heart, between love and patriotism. In this poem, he abjures the romantic love of the ‘beloved’ for contemplation of the misery of the world. The poem is a landmark for it leads 1 Faiz to the consideration of the misery he saw around him related to the freedom struggle in his homeland.
The poem can be read in two parts. The first part begins with a couplet or a two-line stanza and is followed by two longer stanzas. In this part, the poet addresses his ‘beloved’. He asks his ‘beloved’ not to expect the kind of love that he had once shown her.
In the next stanza, he narrates and describes the way he had viewed ‘life’. In that stage of his life, ‘life’ looked very young and blooming because of his love for his beloved. Since his ‘beloved’ was the source of his happiness in life, he could not withstand any kind of suffering afflicting his beloved.
The poet says that the beauty of his beloved bestowed everlasting youth on the spring. He says that the eyes of his beloved were everything to him and everything else failed to please him then. Therefore, when he was in the company of his beloved, he had thought that the ‘world’ was his. But, in the second half of the stanza, the poet confesses that such an idea was an illusion born out of his imagination. Now, he has come to realize that there are other agonies of the world besides the agony of love, and there are other kinds of solace in addition to the solace of love.
In the second part, he elucidates the ‘agonies’ and other kinds of solace in addition to the solace of love, that demand his attention. The second part begins with the same couplet asking his ‘beloved’ not to expect the same kind of love that he had for her once.
In the next (longer) stanza he lists those agonies that demand his attention. They are ‘savagery’ woven in silk and satin and gold lace, which are dark curses of countless ages, and human bodies sold in street and market-place besmeared in blood. They also demand his attention. He says that even though her beauty compels his attention there are other kinds of bliss besides the bliss of her beauty.
He concludes the second part again with the same couplet asking his beloved not to demand the same kind of attention that once he had for his beloved. In this poem, the word ‘beloved’ can be interpreted as his ‘muse’, his country, or his concept of beauty or social change. This poem is said to be Faiz’s first experiment with blending the love for the ‘beloved’ into love for humanity, of turning the pain of separation into pain for all those who suffered under the dark bestial spells of uncounted centuries. In the second stanza, he is obviously referring to slavery, slave trade and prostitution.
Do not ask of Me, My Love Summary in Kannada
- blooming (v): to flower
- satin (n): glossy silk or rayon fabric
- brocade (n): decorative cloth with a raised pattern of gold or silver threads
- fester (v): cut or wound to become infected
- sores (n): infected place on the body
- cauldron (n): a large round open metal pot
- pus (n): a thin yellowish liquid produced in an infected wound
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