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That Time of Year… Poem Questions and Answers, Notes, Summary
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I. Answer the following questions briefly:
a) Which of the following four seasons is the poet talking about in the first stanza?
b) Which words in the stanza support your answer?
(b) When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang’.
The four seasons correspond to the four stages of man’s life – childhood, youth, old age, and death. Where does the poet imagine himself to be?
Autumn (old age)
a) What is compared to “bare ruined choirs”?
b) What does the comparison mean?
(a) The boughs on which birds used to sit.and sing.
(b) The comparison reveals that the boughs have become bare now, bereft of all leaves and birds that used to sing.
Through the image of late autumn, (in the first stanza) the poet convinces his friend that he is close to his death. What image does the poet use in the second stanza?
‘Twilight of such day’.
Like seasons or stages of man’s life, a day can also be divided into four stages:
Where does the poet imagine himself to be in the second stanza?
What is referred to as “Death’s second self”?
Identify the metaphors used by the poet to show the approach of death.
‘Twilight’, ‘black night’.
Through the usage of the twilight, the poet repeats that he is approaching the night of his life. What image does he use in the next stanza?
As in the other images, the fire image of the third stanza also has four stages _________
Which stage does the poet identify himself with?
- What lies on the ashes of its youth?
- What does death-bed mean here?
- ‘the glowing of fire’ in the poet, i.e., ‘enthusiasm for life’.
- ember, i.e., the still-remaining interest in life.
This in the couplet refers
a) back to the three quatrains
b) forward to the next two lines
c) to both
(c) to both
When does love become more strong?
Love becomes stronger when it is time to leave, to let go.
The poem is about the stage of life in which the poet imagines himself to be. What stage does he imagine himself to be in?
a. Comparing life to the seasons he identifies his present stage with _____ season.
b. Comparing life to the day he identifies his present stage with a __________ time of day.
c. Comparing life to the fire, he identifies his present stage with ___________
II. Close Study
Read the following lines of the poem carefully. Discuss in pairs and then write the answers to the questions given below them.
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
a) ‘Bare ruin’d choirs’ refer to
a. a crumbling church
b. trees empty of birds
(b) trees empty of birds.
b) Why has the ‘sound’ disappeared?
Through a change of seasons, Autumn season has set in and brought cold winds. Hence birds have flown away to warmer climates.
c) Why has the poet used the word ‘late’?
‘late’ means ‘recently’.
d) Why are the branches of trees leafless?
Autumn has set in and leaves are turning yellow and falling down.
This thou perceivest, which makes them love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
a) Who is ‘thou’ here?
Thou can refer to a friend or a beloved, whom the poet is asking to love him better because they will have to part soon.
b) What makes love more strong?
The fact that their meeting cannot go on forever, and they will part ways soon, makes love stronger.
c) Explain the literal meaning of the last line.
The poet regrets that he might have to leave soon as he is in the ‘autumn season’, at ‘Twilight’ in the form of ‘embers’, and so he feels the pull of love now more than ever.
III. Paragraph Writing:
Discuss in pairs/groups of 4 each the answers to the following questions. Note down the important points for each question and then develop the points into one paragraph answers.
How is the couplet a fitting conclusion to the three quatrains?
- 1st stanza points out that it is autumn which will soon lead to winter and end of all life.
- 2nd stanza points out that it is twilight and the day is drawing to a close.
- 3rd stanza points out that all enthusiasm for life is quietly dying away, and soon everything will be just ash.
- Since life might be lost soon, the poet feels the pull of the love of the friend/beloved more than before.
- The stanzas give the reasons and the couplet gives the conclusion.
Paragraph: The first two stanzas establish what the poet perceives the young man now sees as he looks at the poet: those yellow leaves and bare boughs, and the faint afterglow of the fading sun. The third stanza reveals that the poet is speaking not of his impending physical death, but the death of his youth and subsequently his youthful desires – those very things which sustained his relationship with the young man. These twelve lines of the sonnet have a depressing and inevitable tone to them, leaving the reader with a sense of fatalism, and are starkly contrasted by the last two lines, which suggest that we ought to live the life we have to the fullest.
‘Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang’ has double images. Explain what the poet wants his friend to ‘behold’.
- The line can refer to the trees which do not have any leaves due to the onset of autumn and hence the birds have flown away.
- It can refer to the poet’s ability to write poetry which is reducing with the onset of old age.
- The poet wants his friend to understand that ‘autumn might soon lead to winter’ and ‘twilight might soon lead tonight’.
Paragraph: The poet is preparing his young friend, not for the approaching literal death of his body, but the metaphorical death of his youth and passion. The poet’s deep insecurities swell irrepressibly as he concludes that the young man is now focused only on the signs of his aging – as the poet surely is himself. The first stanza, which employs the metaphor of the winter day, emphasizes the harshness and emptiness of old age, brought out through the images of the bareness of the church which is in ruins. The church is in disuse with no music flowing out of it except birds solemnly singing from a tree.
IV. Activities: Pair Work
The word “sonnet” is derived from the Italian word “sonnet” meaning “a little sound” or “a little song”. A sonnet is a poem of 14 lines with a structured rhyme scheme in which thought about a subject is developed thoroughly.
When you reflect on the poem, a few vivid, concrete pictures come to your mind (like the picture of almost bare trees with just a few decaying yellow leaves hanging on their branches) What other pictures come to your mind? List them and share them with your neighboring pairs.
The picture of 2nd stanza gives us of a day that is slowly dying down because the sun has set and darkness is gradually spreading all over.
Look closely at the rhyming words. You will observe a pattern. What is the pattern (rhyme scheme)
The rhyme scheme is: abab cdcd efef gg
That Time of Year… Poem Summary in English
The poet wants his friend/beloved to be very loving with him. Hence he tries to impress upon the friend/beloved that he might not live for a long time, and within the short time available, they should be happy together.
The poet says that he has reached his time of ‘autumn’ when leaves are yellow, shiver in the cold wind and start falling. There is no ‘music’.
Changing his metaphor, the poet says that he has reached his ‘Twilight’ when night will soon approach and make him ‘sleep’.
Shifting to another metaphor, the poet says that he has lost his ‘glow of the fire’ and is on the ‘ashes’ of his youth. Anytime this small glow will die down.
It is for the reason that he might not live long, that the poet feels greater love for the friend/beloved, and wants that person to love him more.
That Time of Year… Poem Summary in Kannada
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