Theme and Summary of The Schoolboy by William Blake
I love to rise in a summer morn,
When the birds sing on every tree;
The distant huntsman winds his horn,
And the sky-lark sings with me.
O what sweet company!
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a well-known poem composed by Robert Frost. In this poem the poet suggests the basic truths and profound thoughts of human life. In a very deceptively lucid language he presents the ultimate vision of life. The poem is a short lyric of four regular stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The poem is an interior monologue. The first line establishes the tone of a person musing quietly to himself on the situation before him.
Like most of Frost’s poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is illusive at the surface level. It sounds like a simple description of a horse rider who desires to stop at the middle of his journey. But after reaching the last stanza readers can understand the purpose of the poem which is a serious psychological problem of every man.
In the first stanza we find the poet to stop his horse in front of an unknown woods. Across the road from the woods that the speaker is passing through, there is a frozen lake. Houses are beyond the vision of the speaker and the quietness marks the scene. It is snowing heavily and the speaker can hear the soft and almost inaudible sound made by wind.
The dark woods symbolize the dark, impenetrable, unfathomable mystery of life, and snow as usual symbolizes the cold destructive force called death. Literally the speaker is caught in a woods on a snowy evening, but psychologically he is caught in a moment of time, arresting all his powers to find an answer to the mystery of life. There is no definite answer as to why the speaker of the poem stopped. The mysteriously beautiful solitude lures him.
In the second stanza, the poet introduces a foil. In fiction and drama, a foil is a character that “plays against” a more important character. The speaker’s strange behavior evokes a surprise even in his horse. Here, in this poem, the foil is the horse. The horse here also stands for rustic common sense without any feelings, emotions and provocations of nature. It is the horse that sets us thinking as to why the man stopped there in the midst of the jungle, having no essential amenities required for a stay in a dark and cold evening. The speaker in the poem imagines the horse to be asking what possibly could make him stop there. This stanza suggests a latent death wish in the speaker and a desire for self-annihilation in order to taste death.
The horse shakes his harness bells. He seems to ask if there is anything wrong. The horse has been portrayed in the poem as it is reminding the speaker whether it is right to stay there without any safe shelter. The horse represents the earth-bound common sense fails to understand the deeper conflict that afflicts its rider.
The final stanza begins with a comment on the scene. Making a very subjective comment, the speaker says that the woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But the poet’s final decision is to put off the poetic, philosophizing mood and to go on. The poet is a man of the world; he has to go his defined path and has his obligations to be spontaneous, natural and passionate.
He says the powerful lines here-
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
He has to strive more before he dies. He repeats this idea implying a determination to achieve the fixed goal of life before death. Here ‘sleep’ symbolizes the final sleep- death. Frost’s vision of life as reflected in these lines assumes universality because a healthy vision always looks forward positively. It finds meaning in using life as much as possible, keeping aside all temptations.
Symbols:All the symbols used in this poem are very simple images taken from rural life. The horse, the woods, the darkness, the freezing coldness, the promises, the distance (miles) and sleep are all very known images used here as symbols.
The horse here stands for rustic common sense without any feelings, emotions and provocations of nature. The dark woods symbolize the dark, impenetrable, unfathomable mystery of life. The darkest evening and the freezing coldness symbolize death. Likewise, the speaker’s momentary attraction for the solitude of the forest symbolizes his death wish. But he remembers his promises that he has to keep. He draws back from the attraction of the woods. His promises stand for the responsibilities of a meaningful life. He is obliged to travel a long distance of several miles before he sleeps. The ‘miles’ stand for a long time of performing duties and the ‘sleep’ stands for the final sleep- the death.
Literary terms:This is a poem full of many poetic devices, among them alliteration, exaggeration, and personification. Personification gives human qualities to something non-human or non-living. The horse in the poem is the example of personification who is portrayed here as to “think” and “ask” just like a human being.
“My little horse must think it queer…”
“…To ask if there is some mistake.”
In the very first line of first stanza, alliteration, i.e. repetition of a consonant sound is found when the poet says,
“Whosewoodsthese are I think I know…”
Again in the third stanza, alliteration is available.
“He gives hisharness bells a shake…”
Exaggeration is a little more difficult to find, because it is quite possible that what the speaker says is true. However, these two examples seem to be a bit hyperbolic (exaggerated for effect). In the second stanza, the poet says,
“The darkest evening of the year.”
The depth of ‘darkness’ can’t be measured. So the poet exaggerates the darkness here. Again he says in the last and final stanza,
“And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
It is the repetition of the ‘miles’ which suggests they are at least somewhat exaggerated.
D.H. Lawrence introduces his views of the novel to the readers by referring to the common thinking among people that they are a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it. A proverb to this effect, namely, “A sound body in a sound mind” has been framed. According to D.H. Lawrence, this idea of ourselves as a body with a spirit or a soul or a mind in it is a funny superstition.
Jane Eyre is a novel written by Charlotte Bronte which is mostly considered as the autobiography of her own. In this novel the novelist has portrayed the life of orphan children. Among all of these, three children are most significant. Charlotte Bronte has given us a graphic account of the life of a child in the opening section of the novel. She has also portrayed another two orphan children later. In the first case, the child concerned is Jane Eyre who subsequently emerges as the heroine of the novel. And the other two children are Jane’s best friend in Lowood School named Helen Burns and a French girl by the name of Adele. Charlotte Bronte has depicted the experiences of Jane Eyre when this girl is just ten years old. Jane is being treated most callously by her aunt Mrs. Reed, and is constantly harassed and bullied by Mrs. Reed’s son John Reed.
Gulliver’s Travels (1726, amended 1735) is a novel by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift. It is Swift’s best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature. It is full of different kind of satires.
Satire is the literary expression of disgust, amusement, or despair- all arising from a sense of discontent with the existing state of affairs. Jonathan Swift, a famous and talented writer of eighteenth century, is regarded as one of the world’s greatest satirists. He was a man of piercing intellect and this intellect never was blind to the chaos and confusion and corruption of the age. He satirizes the political parties and their corrupt practices and that engaged England at the time. All of his vigorous expressions against war and scientific inventions have portrayed perfectly in his greatest work Gulliver’s Travels.
Feminism is a movement that demands the right of women to have political, social, and economic equality with men. It is a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women, and campaign for women’s rights and interests. According to Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first wave was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the second was in the 1960s and 1970s and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these feminist movements. It is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism.
That night (a) — Calipha Harun-ar-Rashid went out into (b) — streets and alley-ways of Baghdad in quest of (c) — new adventures. Disguised in (d) — merchant’s attire, he was accompanied by Jafor and others. It so happened that as they were roaming about (e) — city, they passed by (f) — house of (g) — three girls and heard (h) — sound of (i) — music and voices singing, Al-Rashid said to Jafor, “Would that we could enter this house so that we may listen to (j) — singers and find out who they are?”