Notes: English Literature, GCE OL Examination, Sri Lanka 2017 - R.Subasinghe

October 21, 2017 | Author: Rathnapala Subasinghe | Category: The Red Badge Of Courage, Ballad, Poetry, Stephen Crane, Venus
Share Embed Donate

Short Description

These are notes prepared for the GCE OL English Literture paper in Sri Lanka. Criticisim of all 20 poems are included he...


Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 1 of 49

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

1. To the Nile

Page 2 of 49

John Keats ((1795 -1821)

This is an ‘ode’ written in ‘sonnet sonnet’ form by John Keats’. An ‘ode’ is a personified address appreciating or admiring a thing, person, animal or state. A ‘sonnet’ is a 14 line poem, lines of which are in iambic pentameter. pentameter First eight lines in ‘To the Nile’ are an ‘octave’ rhyming abbaabba and the remaining six is a ‘sestet’ rhyming cdcdcd. The first and fourth lines have their end rhymes in /n/ sound (phoneme) and the second and third lines have their end rhymes in /l/ sound. So are the next four. The octave in this poem shows the poet is fascinated with the mysterious nature of the river; however, in the remaining sestet he rebukes such fancying as, ‘O O may dark fancies err! They surely do…’ The poet addresses the Nile river directly the way he does so in his other Odes ‘Ode ‘ to Autumn’ or ‘Ode Ode on a Grecian Urn’. The Nile river is the home for many human civilizations since ancient times. It is especially famous for Pharaoh kings and the pyramids built by them. It is also associated with gods like Hapi who is believed to be the chief God who causes floods on the Nile River. It is those floods that brings fertility and ‘fruitfulness fruitfulness’ to people who live there. The Nile Valley provides not only food including fish, it serves as a mode of transport and playground for water sports. Its value as suitable for human settlement is immense especially when compared with the desert round it. The poet contrasts contrast the value of the Nile by creating a visual image of the vast desert around it. The Nile river is personified as ‘son’ in the first line as, ‘Son of the Old Moon-Mountains’. Mountains’. There the poet refers to the belief it originated from the Moon. Such personification then continues as it is the ‘Chief’ of ‘Pyramid’ and ‘crocodile’. The Nile is famous for the largest species of crocodiles associated with God Go Osiris in the legends. There, too, the poet uses contrast by referring to lifeless things as pyramids along with living things of crocodiles. The poet also uses rhetorical questions question as ‘Art thou so fruitful?’ and ‘…or dost thou beguile… for a space… ?’ ? to make the reader ponder further on the river Nile. In the last lines he uses sensuous images to which Keats has an outstanding ability, the ability to create beauty pleasing to the eye, the ear and other senses. The phrases ‘green green rushes’ rushes and ‘dost taste’ in the line, ‘Green Green rushes like our rivers, and dost taste’ illustrate this point.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 3 of 49

In the last lines however, the poet expresses doubts as to whether The Nile river really is that worthy, starting with the line, ‘O may dark fancies err! They surely do…’. This line resembles another of his odes ‘Ode to Nightingale’ where he says‘Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf. ‘ wherein he says, his fancying with the nightingale’s song has its end, as it is so with all fancying. ___________________ R.Subasinghe. 26 June 2017 ________________________________________ 

 

General themes Keats dealt with are on mysteries, uncertain states and doubts not with facts or reasoning. He sees a link between ‘truth’ and ‘beauty’ as seen in his ode, ‘Ode to the Grecian Urn’ where he says, ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ ‘seeing’s inward span’ = looking into inner mind, using only imagination to probe. ‘Nurse of the swart nations…’ the river Nile has produced nations throughout ancient history, some of whom are unknown. (swart= not clear, not well known)

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 4 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

2. A Bird Came Down the Walk

Emily Dickinson (1830 –1886)

The simple experience of watching a bird moving about near her makes the poetess think deeper on it. She sees the bird coming down the walk, eating an angleworm, drinking ‘a dew’ ‘from a convenient grass’ and hopping sideways to let a beetle pass by, making her feel attracted to it. Its eyes are ‘bead-like’ but they look like frightened, and it is ‘One like in danger…’ suggesting living things in nature have something to do with fear. She addresses it as ‘he’ giving it a human value, and offers it ‘a crumb’ showing her empathy with nature. However, it ‘unrolls his feathers’ and flies away. Along with the Central image of the bird, kinesthetic images are used throughout showing the motion of the bird as eating, drinking, hopping and looking around in fear. The bird appears as a symbol of quick, flawless, pleasing motions in nature that can be contrasted with the rough, and sometimes harmful human activities of motion. The images in the final stanza comparing the bird’s activities with the human are very effective. The flight of the bird is compared with human made motion in water when swimming or rowing boats. The bird’s motion is delicate, quick and made with least noise and least effort. The image of leaping butterflies ‘off Banks of Noon’ is a beautiful visual image created in this regard. Similarly, the expression swimming [s]‘plashlessly’ too creates a strong auditory effect. The poetess says that when the bird flies, it resembles oars used when rowing in water, but differs in that when the bird uses feathers in air, it is gentler, graceful, noiseless and quicker. Thus, human ways are compared and contrasted with the animal’s suggesting, the nature’s ways are deeper and subtler. Phrases used therein as ‘…oars divide the ocean /Too silver for a seam’ and ‘off banks of noon’ appear as they are carefully constructed. They create strong images and many meanings appear as compact in them. Structurally, the poetess uses iambic trimeter (3 iambs/ 6 syllables) in three lines of a quatrain with third lines having iambic tetrameter. A loose abcb rhyme scheme is used. The traditional ballad form she often uses is used herein too, in which the poem is divided into quatrains and she varies from this traditional meter by using trimeter for lines one, two and four, and tetrameter for line three. Because of the ballad quality given to it, some of her poems can be sung. ______________________

R. Subasinghe. 26 June 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 5 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

3. The Eagle

- Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

'The Eagle' is written by the Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. England at his times was emerging as the first industrialized nation, and it was not only a centre of political commercial activities, but also of scientific and philosophical activities. England was becoming the largest empire in the world during his time. When Tennyson started writing poems The Romantic Movement was at its height. In their themes Romantic Movement focused on appreciating nature. To them nature was beautiful and the world was centered on humans. Deeper experiences of reality can be achieved by the appreciation of beauty in nature according to them. They focused on the individual instead of the society, and worked more with imagination than reality. In writing styles they experimented with freer forms instead of clinging to fixed rigid forms as seen in sonnets. However some of them were clever in using such fixed forms too as it can be seen in Keat’s sonnet ‘To The Nile’. Although a Victorian poet, Tennyson shows such romantic qualities of appreciating nature too as seen in this poem ‘The Eagle'. His themes generally deal with the beauty in nature and man’s place in it. He did not like the rural England to change its appearance to become industrial towns. 'The Eagle' is one short poem of Tennyson consisting of two stanzas, each one of which contains only three lines. However, poetic devices are effectively used in it to convey his deep experience. The poem is focused on an eagle in an area where there is no human habitation. It is alone in nature in its grandeur, with the sun and bright blue sky forming a perfect background of a visual scene. No human is there to interfere with it except for the poet who watches it from afar. . The second stanza is about the action of the eagle. The first and the second lines there show how the eagle watches the scene below from a crag of a mountain. The ‘wrinkled’ sea is in motion like a crawling animal, as stated in the line ‘The wrinkled sea… crawls’. The eagle makes a quick dive towards the sea as shown in the final line. The poem ends there; the reader does not know why it dived. It can be guessed it caught a fish for eating as required for its existence. Tennyson shows special talent in the use of sound devices like stress, tone and rhythm. Thus poetic devices of alliteration, assonance, meter and rhyming are prominent in his poems. His outstanding poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ shows how effectively he uses beat and rhythm as suitable to the theme of the poem of a marching army doomed to die unexpectedly at war. The poet has successfully used the technique of

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 6 of 49

alliteration in the first line. The phrase ‘clasps the crag with crooked hands’ shows how the phoneme (a speech sound unit) /k/ is used four times in it. The /k/ sound connotes roughness of the rock surface where it is. The bird eagle appears in the background of such rough terrain. So is the use of /l/ sound seen in the phrase 'lonely lands.' There it connotes the nature of water in the sea. Land and water both are essential parts of existence for man and animals. Another technique Tennyson has used here is personification, The eagle here is not an ‘it’ but a ‘he’. It has ‘hands’ like humans. When the sea is seen as ‘crawling’ too, it suggests the motion of an animal; thus the sea too is considered a life form. Such personification of the eagle makes the poem a close experience to the reader. The technique of hyperbole is used in the phrase ‘close to the sun.' From the viewpoint of the poet the eagle is ‘close to the sun’ though it cannot really be so. This device is used to emphasize the way the eagle was sitting as if on the top of the world having direct relationships with sun, the life giver to all life forms. No other living being could easily reach the place where the eagle is. A color image is used with the word 'azure,' which is bright blue. The blue sky there with the sun 'ringed' round the eagle creates a majestic looking image of the eagle in the highest place with nature, a very impressive visual image. R.Subasinghe 26 June 2017


Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 7 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka


To the Evening Star

- William Blake 1757- 1827

The poem to ‘To the Evening Star’ is an ode written in sonnet form like ‘To the Nile’ by John Keats. (poem 1) An ‘ode’ is a personified address appreciating or admiring a thing, person, animal or state. A ‘sonnet’ is a 14 line poem lines of which are in iambic pentameter. No strict rhyme scheme is seen in this poem although To the Nile’ of Keats is structured on a clear rhyme scheme. The poet William Blake addresses the ‘evening star’ (Venus the planet it can be assumed) as a ‘fair-hair’d angel’ and asks her to come to the ‘bed’ of earth with love in the evening. The poet asks that angel to protect the world against the evils because the sun is not there at night. The phrase ‘whilst the sun rests’ suggests it is night. According to Roman mythology Venus is the goddess of love. The poet creates here a vivid image of Venus as an angel with her ‘bright torch of love’ wearing a ‘radiant crown’. This image is to be seen with its background of contrast as everything else would be gloomy if the ‘evening star’ is not there. The beauty and light of love on one side and gloominess on the other side are contrasted there. The poet invites the evening star the ‘angel’ of love to come to the ‘bed’ of earth to arouse the feelings of love because those feelings are active at night. The word ‘bed’ here too connotes love. Blake here creates a relationships between beauty and love and the involvement of ‘bed’ with them. The poet uses contrast in the last lines too as the appearances of lions and wolves at the same time as love on the ‘bed’ of earth. Venus the ‘evening star’ disappears after some time the sun has gone down after which terror and death as symbolized by lions and tigers manifest at night. This reminds us that the themes of Blake’s poems transit between ‘innocence’ and ‘experience’, as he himself has used the two words to refer to them. One of his poems titled ‘The Tyger’ suggests the need of fear as represented in a tiger which animals denoting fear are needed to control the world to bring order in it. Blake suggests there that although we have to be innocent we should have experience too as struggling to enjoy that innocence. Struggles of these opposites of ‘innocence’ and ‘experience’ are symbolized in his poems through animals like tigers, lions and lambs. ‘The Evening Star’ creates a pastoral scene (see the note below) of villages as romantic poets are keen in portraying them. The poet shows that when Venus’s ‘radiant crown’ holds spreads its power during the night, it puts an end to daytime activities by changing the scenes of the sky, making the flowers go to sleep, making the wind to be calmed down and so on. In the last line the poet appeals to the angel of ‘evening star’ to protect the flocks of sheep, the lambs and the fowl because humans cannot do so on their own at night. _____________________

R.Subasinghe 20 June 2017

Note: pastoral – related to village scenes and life with farms farmers and domestic animals

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka


War is kind

Page 8 of 49

-Stephen Stephen Crane (1871 (1871-1901)

Battle of Chancellorsville by Kurz and an Allison;

Stephen Crane was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. At school he enjoyed to be in the school's military training program and ascended to higher ranks in it. According to critics he is a realist, naturalist, and impressionist in his writing style style. His famous war novel The Red Badge of Courage is a psychological portrayal of fear in a soldier in the war field. Ernest Hemingway considers The Red Badge of Courage ass a great novel. Setting of it is the Civil War in U.S.A that took place from 1861 to 1865 which was before Stephen was born. It depicts the psychological state of a youth who loved to be a soldier but feared it too, displaying courage and cowardice at the same time. Vivid, horrifying, emotional experiences of soldiers are portrayed there as they occurred in the battlefield making the reader abhors the war. The skill of Crane there is in focusing on the psyche of the soldiers, not their experiences. In doing so he has developed his own writing style too. Stephen’s writings are generally narrative. narrative His poems appeal to intelligence rather than to feelings or emotions.. They are objective rather than subjective;; appeal to mind rather than to heart. He used free ree verse which form of poetry was not well received at his time, and he used rhyme and meter too freely. The poem ‘War is kind’ is divided divide to 5 stanzas having 5 lines in each except the middle one which has 6 lines. Refrain is used three times as in two short Ines of 3 syllables and 2 stresses as; ‘Do not weep War is kind’. kind’ which are also ending lines of the first, third and fifth stanzas. The poem begins too by the line ‘Do not weep maiden, for war is kind’. So the same message iss repeated many times elaborating on the theme of the poem, Also, the line ‘These These men were born to drill and die’ too is repeated twice to emphasize on the state of soldiers. soldier The theme is the reality of war shown through the techniques of ironyy and sarcasm. The technique of irony makes the poet to say war as an act of kindness; indness; but it is obvious what the poet conveys is its opposite. opposite Vivid images of battlefields are created in the reader’s mind to bring his message to light. It is sarcastically stated, making wars is an

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 9 of 49

act of kindness so there is no need to weep over it. When the reader wonders why wars have to be considered kind its counter question can be asked, if they are not kind acts then why make wars? In this way the poet allows the readers to form their own insights. Two other lines too are there ending the stanzas in sarcastic statements as, ‘Great is the battle God, great and his kingdom’ and ‘Make plain to them the excellence of killing ’. The poet is sarcastic about man’s obsession to make wars as explicit in the lines like, ‘These men were born to drill and die’ that appears twice in the poem. By saying ‘These men were born only to drill and die’ (and not to live and die), the poet persuades the reader to think the opposite of what it conveys. The /d/ phoneme (speech sound unit) in the phrase ‘drill and die’ connotes the nature of ‘death’ too, which is a human situation soldiers at war are especially concerned with. In the first stanza a visual image with kinesthetic effects of a young girl weeping over the death of her soldier lover is created. Kinesthetic effects there are seen in the manner the soldier died as ‘threw wild hands towards the sky’ and the horse running without a rider. The death of the soldier also connotes soldiers need not think of love and marriage life as a need in their lives. The second stanza creates a scene of an army marching to the ‘booming’ sounds of a drum. Drums are taken to war field to keep up the morale of soldiers. Auditory effects are created there along with the visual. The term ‘booming’ also creates an onomatopoeic effect, along with some kinesthetic effect created in the whole stanza. At the beginning of the third stanza a visual scene of a war field is created where a thousand corpses are scattered as, ‘A field where a thousand corpses lie’. Then an image of a weeping baby is created who weeps because she has lost her father because of war. How her father died is created in visual and kinesthetic images of how he fell in a trench, and then ‘Raged at his breast, gulped and died’. In the fourth stanza again, a scene of soldiers are shown as they go to war taking a flag; the flag there has the picture of an eagle as the emblem that shines ‘blazing’ ‘with crest of red and gold’. The eagle the animal is at the head, above the status of soldiers, uniting them to make war; the human soldiers of whom are simply followers of the symbolical eagle. It makes us aware more of the purpose of making war. The phrase the ‘virtue of slaughter’ is an oxymoron because no ‘virtue’ can really be there in ‘slaughtering’ in ordinary ways of thinking, but it is so to those who make wars. The poet there refers sarcastically to people who make wars as if there are virtues or good qualities in them. Another oxymoron is in the next line too as the ‘excellence of killing’; the term ‘excellence’ has to be applied to good things, but here it is applied to ‘killing’ It is again the image of a war-field in the last stanza where an image of thousand corpses is created for the second time. Then a mother is shown as worrying over the death of her soldier son which stanza ends in the short sentences of refrain. The mother, stares silently at the body of her son which is covered with a shroud, her ‘heart hung humble as a button’. (Note alliteration: ‘heart hung humble as a button’)The simile ‘button’ compared to mother’s ‘heart’ indicates a mother’s helplessness in managing the way things are happening. Mothers lose their children for no crime they had done; but they

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 10 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

can do nothing regarding that. The poet pretends to tell her ‘Do not weep, war is kind.’ R.Subasinghe 26 June 2017 ___________________________ Notes:  When the poet refers to soldiers as ‘little souls’ it connotes the feeling soldiers are not so important compared with other humans. Their ‘souls’ are ‘little’. It also contains the metaphor called metonymy. Metonymy is using a smaller state of a person, state or thing to represent the whole of it. (examples : New Delhi informed today. –New Delhi there refers to the bigger state of it India. )  When soldiers march with a flag, they appear as inferior to the flag because it is up; soldiers are on the ground. This connotes the purpose of fighting is higher than the people who fight for it. So is the bird eagle shown in the flag. It is shown superior to the soldiers and it is leading them.  In the third stanza the soldier is in a yellow trench. The color yellow connotes sickness, death sometimes yellow fever.


The Terrorist, He’s Watching

Wislawa Szymborska


The Polish poetess Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Themes she deals with are simple but cover the nature of whole humanity. Most of them are on war and terrorism. Her writing contains wit, irony and deceptive simplicity (see note 1 below) according to critics. She sometimes deals with unusual themes like the one about a cat in an empty house, the owner of which is dead. In ‘The Terrorist, He’s Watching’, she creates a scene of a terrorist planting a bomb in a crowded bar, leaves the building to a safe distance and watches how it explodes from afar, a common occurrence in the modern world. The reader sees the same visual pictures the terrorist is watching from afar, and feels she is watching it with him together as one. The way both the terrorist and the reader watch from afar as if they are detached with the humans involved, displays a unique technique of presentation the poetess has used. The terrorist has not run away from the area after planting the bomb because he wants to ‘enjoy’ what he has done by witnessing the results himself. He wants to see how the bomb explodes, how people would suffer, how frightened, confused and miserable people could be after the explosion. He is probably projecting a state of his confused, dejected mind towards the rest of the humanity, to get a perverted satisfaction through it; probably having some idealistic motives too to justify what he is doing.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 11 of 49

The poem is written in third person omnipresent view, using a casual, matter-of-fact tone. When the reason for one man to go back to the bar is stated as to get his ‘crummy gloves’, it shows the poetess us using the technique. The theme of planting a bomb in a crowded place is a modern one and it is simple and a simple language is used to tell it. It depicts the ruthlessness of terrorism, although nothing is directly told or hinted about an ethical side on it. Portrayal of the scene is objective and descriptive, the reader only could become subjective and free to form her view. The poetess tells nothing about what happens after the explosion too. The poem begins by telling in the first line, a bomb would explode in a crowded bar in four minutes. Thus, suspense is created from the first line itself. ‘Time’ plays an unsympathetic role there as regards human existence. It doesn’t care whether people die or not in an incident, when the time is correct for the explosion. The reader wonders whether all life forms hang in suspension till death occurs like the humans who are here, by being carried out with unmanageable ‘time’. Everyone comes across one particular instance of his ending his life, and when that time comes no ‘time’ is left even to ponder on that. The theme of the poem invokes two questions: 1. why cruelty is there among humans in massacring innocent people in large numbers 2.inevitability of death or destruction that could occur to anybody at anytime. The way mages are created one after other gives a cinematic effect to the poem. The poetess mentions this technique herself as ‘just like the movies’. First the terrorist crosses the street, and people move about ignorant of the explosion, then people going in and coming out of the bar all as they occur in one frame of a film. Time passes, after some time of which the reader is expected to witness the horrible experience. Ordinary people who could be victimized in the bomb explosion are ‘a woman in a yellow jacket’, ‘a man in dark glasses’, ‘teenagers in jeans’ on some of whom the poetess makes her personal comments as, ‘the short one, he’s lucky, he’s getting on a scooter’ ‘but the tall one, he's going in’. The fate of the girl ‘with a green ribbon in her hair’ cannot be known, but it will be known when the injured or dead bodies are carried out. The last person seen is ‘another guy, fat, bald’ who is going to be dead or injured just because he has left his worthless gloves inside. This last man shows, even a worthless thought form can be fatal in human life. The theme of the poem is presented in the first stanza itself as that in a short time some people would die about which they do not know, and some would escape from the same, about which too nobody knows anything. The lines ‘There’s still time for some to go in, And some to come out.’ suggests people face their fates unknown to them. In ending the poem, the poetess makes the reader see time as indifferent and objective even where people’s destinies are involved.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 12 of 49

‘Thirteen twenty exactly, This waiting, it’s taking forever.’ When the time has come for the explosion, last one second appears as eternal, showing further the nature of time dimension. The mind conceived nature of time is strongly felt there. The feeling time as eternal is continued in the next line too as ‘no, not yet.’ making the reader tensed and impatient. Finally the expected explosion occurs after which the poetess allows the reader to think what they like.


R.Subasinghe 26 June 2017

Note: Deceptive simplicity: Appears as simple images or simple ideas, but deep realities are latent in them. The poetess feigns to just portraying an instance of a bomb explosion, but the nature of whole humanity is seen through that simplicity.

7. Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree -A.E.Houseman (1859-1936) Housman was born in 1859 in England. In 1896 he published a collection of 63 poems titled ‘A Shropshire Lad’. In 1911 he became a professor of Latin language. The poem ‘Farewell to Barn and Stack and Tree’ shows the psychological state of a young man who has to leave the farm he worked and his home, because he has just killed his brother. After killing his brother he hangs on for sometime in the farm hesitating to leave it, the duration of which period is suggested in the line, ‘By now the blood is dried.’ The reason for killing could have been mistrust and anger caused by it. A person is addressed to here as ‘Terence’ telling ‘him’, ‘Terence, look your last at me For I come home no more’. ‘Terence’ here could be an animal like a horse that he was fond of. If Terence is human his response too ought to have been in the poem. As shown in the line ‘The sun burns on the half – mown hill’, it is still afternoon and the dead person and his state is imagined by the killer as, ‘Maurice amongst the hay lies still,…’. Maurice here can be the brother who is killed and the fact it is the narrator who killed him is shown in the line ‘And my knife is in his side’. The fact that he is now worrying is shown in the line ‘My bloody hands’. It suggests he could have killed his brother in sudden anger. This reminds us of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s drama ‘Macbeth’ wherein she tries to wipe out an imagined blood spot from her palm out of

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 13 of 49

insanity. Her insanity is a result of the guilty feeling caused by her involvement in the killing of the king in the country by her husband Macbeth. The narrator in this poem wants to be good again as shown in the fifth stanza, by ‘you’ in which he refers to his own hands. ‘I wish you strength to bring pride And a love to keep you clean’ The word ‘long’ is repeated three times in the last stanza asserting his difficulty in returning to the normal life for a long time. The emotional state his mother would fall into is suggested as she will have to wait long for her two children to come for dinner, ‘And long will stand the empty plate, And dinner will be cold.’ By drawing the reader’s attention on the simple object ‘empty plate’ there, the poet shows how a seemingly unimportant object can be used to denote wider meanings. The form of this poem is a popular ballad style. The term ‘ballad’ is derived from the Latin word ‘ballare’, which means songs for dancing. Ballads are folk poems that can be sung. They arose mostly in rural farming communities. They were orally passed down from generation to generation since ancient times because of which the original writers of them cannot be found. Ballads generally contain stories or incidents that really occurred. The language in them is colloquial and they are mostly presented in four line stanzas containing regular rhyme schemes. Most ballads relate to tragic tales though few have happy endings. Simplicity is another characteristic of a ballad along with simple structure and simple diction in them. Ballads start almost always with an unexpected opening and they are sometimes presented in dialogue form. Almost all ballads have refrain used as an indispensable device in singing. (refrain = a line or phrase repeated several times in a poem or song.) The stress pattern of the first stanza goes like this.

Barn = large farm building used for storing grain etc. Stack= a pile or heap of something. Here it could either be grain or hay. Shore = beach. Here it refers to his country/village. Half mown = grass cutting done half way. Scythe = farming tool with a crooked blade used for harvesting.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 14 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Rake = farming tool; set of metal teeth horizontally attached to a long handle. Rick = a stack of hay or etc. Fold = a pen for sheep. i.e. an enclosed area for keeping animals. Severn shore = a village by the river Severn in England. One of the major rivers in the British Isle. Lammastide= harvesting festival which generally falls on the 1st of August every year in rural England. A loaf = made from the freshly harvested grain is ceremonially offered to the church. ____________________________



R.Subasinghe 20 June 2017

- Jacques Prevert (1900-1977)

Jacques Prevert was born in Paris in 1900. He left school in 1915 and did various jobs and later served in the military. He died from lung cancer in 1977. The poem ‘Breakfast’ was published in 1945. It deals with a theme of conflicts that occur in communication in intimate relationships. Such conflicts could become painful especially when they occur at breakfast times, because it is a time intimate relationships clearly manifest. At breakfast times simple conversations take place wherein the day’s proceedings too can be agreed upon. Most families start their days at breakfast table happily or with minimum conflicts. However, instances are there occasionally when a conflict is so strong, no communication would be possible. The poet has chosen such an instance as his topic. The poet here describes actions of a person as watched by another, the another of whom here could be the person’s wife. A visual image of the breakfast table is created first in which the man is seen along with a kinesthetic image of his pouring coffee into a cup. Then more kinesthetic images are added to it as what that man does, ‘put milk’ ‘put sugar’ ‘stirred it’ ‘drank the coffee’… and so on, all of which are in past simple tense.. However all that the man does, is done without looking at or talking to his seemingly wife. The focus is on the man and what he does, while the woman is a passive watcher until the last three lines where the focus turns to the wife. No auditory or tactile effect is made on the reader although the terms ‘stirring’ and ‘raining’ could cause some auditory effects on those who are sensitive to

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 15 of 49

them. The woman is brought on the scene only in the last stanza wherein what she does is only weeping. ‘And I, I put my head in my hands and wept.’ The focus of the poem is on these last three lines which is the suffering of the woman. The poem is structured on the main visual image of a breakfast table and the kinesthetic images woven round it. The language contains simple nouns and verbs of simple past tense except for the verb form ‘was raining’ in the third stanza. No adjectives or adverbs at all making the language simple, thus giving the value of simplicity to the poem. The indifferent attitude of the man towards his wife is skillfully brought out without using adjectives or adverbs. The verb ‘put’ is used differently in all stanzas adding diversity too through uniformity. Almost all lines have 3 stresses while others have two, thus all are short lines. The poet clings to same short sentence structures strengthening the uniformity of form in it. No feeling or emotion is seen at surface level until the last lines. When the last lines are reached all feelings of sorrow, despair and boredom appear as they were packed there all the time, waiting for an outlet to be released. Those emotions and feelings seem to have been working behind at sub-conscious levels in both of them. A state of silence is felt from the beginning, but such silence was really not there as seen in the last three lines. The man’s state of confusion and giving outlets to his emotions is seen in his smoking and sending smoke rings, and the woman’s state of confusion is seen in the last three lines. The poet does not make personal interference to convey his views on what’s happening. It appears, the poet wants the reader to think the way the reader likes. It could be, the man and the woman had an argument or quarreled the previous day so they cannot talk to one another now. It could also have been a trivial reason that caused all, with no importance there in it, though the two of them feel it as great. It is up to the reader to feel the cause of conflict according to his or her background. Except for phrases ‘without talking’ ‘without looking’ and ‘without a word’ all others show actions. Thus a contrast is created there between what is done and what is not done. In the final seeing, what is not done seems to have played the major role working at sub conscious levels of the two. Thus the poet has used a technique of conveying what is absent by presenting what is active, by keeping the real theme hidden behind instead of displaying it in the open. What occurs as subconscious states of mind have been presented by being detached with them. What this poem describes could also be perfectly ‘normal’ human behavior in a morning. The communicative relationship between a man and a woman has ceased for sometime despite for their being in close physical proximity, to which there could have been no grave reason to look for. _____________________ R.Subasinghe 26 June 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 16 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka


Once upon a Time

-Gabriel Okara 1921 –

'Once upon a time' is written by the Nigerian poet Gabriel Okara. He was born in 1921. Okara's poems display sensitivity to social issues especially those caused on traditional life styles in poor countries as they were affected by colonialism. In this poem Okara laments over the changes of cultural characteristics of his people, because of which, no genuine social relationships can be established. As individuals people are self centered now which behavior is harmful for happiness and smooth functioning of the society. As regards the theme, two areas can be identified in this poem as the political and the social. The political theme shows how powerful countries pretend to be friendly and good hearted but what they really do is only exploiting the poor countries for their advantage. As stated in the poem, they laugh not with ‘heart’ but with ‘teeth’. This makes us see the powerful countries in the world use concepts of good ideals like ‘democracy’ ‘human rights’ ‘good governance’ ‘reconciliation’ etc. but they use them only to their self centered advantages. They do not allow poor countries to prosper. This was the general nature of colonialism too in the past, which is continued now as neocolonialism. The social theme of the poem shows people in modern times do not appreciate or welcome one another with genuine feelings. The poet says that he himself, ‘… learned to say ‘Goodbye’ when I mean ‘Good riddance!’ The poet, too, has begun to wear many faces now like ‘home face’ office face’ street face’ similar to wearing masks; but he is not happy about it. The title invites the reader to go back to past. It is like the poet is going to tell a story of past, but what he does is comparing the past with present as a criticism of the political and the social scene in his society. The poem consists of seven stanzas the first 4 of which contain 6 lines in each, each line of which have 3 or 4 stresses. The last 3 stanzas contain 8, 7 and 4 lines respectively, with similar number of stresses in each. This shows that the poet has used a free form but conformed to some conventions. The poem begins with the poet addressing his ‘son’ telling him, people are not genuine now in their relationships as they were ‘Once upon a time’. ‘Once upon a time’ they laughed ‘with their hearts, and … with their eyes'. Now they ‘only laugh with their teeth’ the point of which suggests they laugh for the sake of laughing only. Their eyes are ‘ice cold’ when people laugh, which means no proper emotion or feeling is shown through them when they laugh now. In expressing this, the poet has used the technique of ‘punning’, which is playing with words which are pronounced same though different in meaning and spelling. Two words played with herein are ‘eyes’ and ‘ice’. He also says that when people shake hands now it is done without hearts involved; and when doing so their ‘left hands search … empty pockets’ of the other. This suggests, what people want

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 17 of 49

now by shaking hands is exploiting one another. In the last stanza, he asks his son to show how to laugh with genuine feelings because only children can do so now. To apply this situation to Sri Lankan society, we may not have lost all qualities of hospitality, friendship and genuineness in our social relationships. Shaking hands is not the way of most people in Sri Lanka greet one another. Worshipping of elders is still prevalent in Sri Lankan society. The traditional people in Africa or Sri Lanka were used to welcome visitors and offered them food, drink and lodging generously. However now they are not willing to do so. Doors in our houses are now not open to others as we did so even in recent past. If we visit a home now without taking an appointment, the host finds it as annoying or interfering with the privacy of him. A reason for such attitude could be the host is not allowed adequate time to ‘wear the proper face’ required for such sudden meetings. Now all behavior is centered on profit when in business, not the humans who make use of them. Gabriel Okara has successfully explained the loss of values in traditional cultures and how it has affected the world, because of which, people are no more humanitarian. One reason for which situation is, they changed for bad because of colonial influences that made the ‘capital’ (=money) to be considered more important than the human. R.Subasinghe 20 June 2017 ________________

10. I Know why the Caged Bird Sings

– Maya Angelou 1928-2014

Maya Angelou was born in a small southern town in USA. When she was small her family suffered much due to racial discriminations in USA as caused by the white people on the black African community. She was insulted and abused by white children in her area. The racist group Ku Klux Klan was active at that time fighting for white supremacy in USA. She studied this situation hard later in her life and presented them in writing, creating a world view of her own regarding the problem. Her studies made her change on which she once said, ‘I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare’, to mean further studies made her different for good. When once she saw the AfroAmerican civil rights leader Martin Luther King addressing a meeting, she was inspired to join him. Martin Luther King asked her to organize a march in 1968, but he was assassinated which date was also her birthday She wrote her famous autobiography titled ‘Caged Bird’, that showed her strength of character and love for literature that made her also overcome the trauma caused on her by racial discrimination. In the process of writing this book she was changed from a victim

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 18 of 49

of racism with feelings of inferiority, into a self-possessed, dignified woman capable of responding to racial hostilities. Caged Bird became a bestseller for two years. The book deals with the themes of black motherhood, racism, family, independence and dignity of the individual. Reviewers categorize it as an autobiographical fiction. She uses symbolical representations of a caged bird and free bird to show the states of one time African slaves and the white people in USA. White people in USA are the free birds the Afro Americans are the caged birds. Angelou dealt also with themes like identity, rape, racism, and women's lives in a maledominated society. Maya, the central character in the book is a symbolic character of every black girl in America. Angelou's description of being raped as an eight-year-old child works behind the book throughout. Rape is used as a symbol for the suffering of her race. A metaphor she uses with regard to freedom for her community is that of a bird struggling to escape its cage, which is the central image throughout her book. A picture of a free bird is created in the first stanza of the poem where it enjoys being carried away freely in a current of air, and being exposed to the sunlight as, ‘………leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream…’ In the second and third stanzas it is a caged bird shown, whose ‘…wings are clipped and his feet are tied…’ It wants to sing but when it sings it would be crying for freedom in a note of ‘fearful trill’, which means it couldn’t really be a song of joy but screaming in pain and agony. Such songs would show the situation of the black people’s suffering when living among the white racist people in USA. The free bird is shown again in the third stanza where it wants to enjoy more, claiming more of the sky as its for the second time ‘…the sky his own.’ In the fifth stanza the caged bird reappears. The picture portrayed there as a caged bird is a ‘shadow’: it is not real, suggesting the black people there did not live like real humans, singing of whom appears as ‘nightmare scream’. Lines in these fourth and fifth stanzas are longer, therefore the stanzas are bigger in content creating enhanced pictures of the states of the two birds as one is in ecstasy of joy, while the other is in the ‘ecstasy’ of misery.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 19 of 49

The final stanza is a repetition of the same third stanza of the caged bird. The phrases ‘free bird’ ‘caged bird’ ‘fearful trill’ ‘wings are clipped’ ‘feet are tied’ are repeated there to place emphasis on them. The poetess has used short lines in the stanzas except the fourth and the fifth which are bigger in form. The first stanza is one complete sentence in which two parts are there separated by ‘and’, thus the poetess has conformed to a strict form. Fourth and fifth stanzas symbolically portray developed, enhanced visions of the two communities using R.Subasinghe 29 June 2017 contrast.


Richard Cory (1897)

Edward Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

‘Richard Cory’ is a narrative and descriptive poem written in 1897. It is set on an American town and it is about a rich American. He has education, wealth and social status but killed himself despite for all he had. He dressed neatly and conservatively and conversed with people and such conversations with people were as suitable to their social standards. People stood aside and watched him admiringly when he was walking in the town. All wanted to see him and speak to him. They imitated him, and those who wanted to work with him strived hard to have such positions considering it a higher social status to work under him. So it became shocking to all when he committed suicide. This poem makes people wonder why education, wealth and social status cannot be the all. Thus, the theme of this poem is, social status and wealth is not all in a human life. Many other things can affect the man such as psychological states, hereditary factors, social backgrounds, marital or extra marital affairs, accidental happenings, fate etc. etc. The poet has chosen words to connote Richard Cory is of nobility in social status. (Additional meanings other than the literal meanings in a worm phrase or sentence is called connotation. denote/ connote.) He is rich, well- educated and cultured as shown in the phrase, ‘he was rich… and admirably schooled…’. The poet uses the word ‘downtown’ when referring to where ordinary people live. Richard Cory had to lower himself to meet the people in the ‘downtown’. Ordinary people he meets are on the ‘pavement’, not in mansions. The name ‘Richard’ also connotes ‘richness’. Many kings in history had the name ‘Richard’. Also such words and phrases ‘sole to crown’ ‘imperially slim’ and ‘schooled in every grace’ also connote nobility and the high social status of Richard Cory. When Robinson says Cory was ‘richer than a king’ and ‘he glittered when he walked’ they are hyperbolic, but they convey the desired effect of the nobility and the privileged

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 20 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

social status he had. Except for the last line, the tone of the poem connotes one of admiration and respect. The poorer, lower townspeople respect and admire Richard Cory. They look up to him, literally and figuratively. They want to be him, but they cannot be so. It appears the ordinary people have found their ‘The Other’ in Richard Cory’, the concept of which as related to Lacanian psychology. What is meant by ‘The Other’ here is, when a person desires some social status but he cannot have it, but sees that status is possessed by someone one else, then a psychological attachment is created in him with that person as his ‘The Other’. In capitalistic America all want to be rich but few reach that status. Those who cannot be rich admire those who are, and talk about them, emulate them and read or write articles and books on them giving outlets to the attachment caused as their ‘The Other’. (see the note below) Thus, the poet builds-up of Richard’s character to its climax, and in the last line creates its huge opposite state to shock the reader, making the reader feel a mansion he built is really not there. Thus, irony is seen when these last lines are reached emphasizing, appearance alone can be deceiving. The irony of the poem is expressed both by the tone and the theme. Irony here is situational irony, where the outcome of a situation is the unexpected opposite of what is expected. What went wrong with Richard Cory suddenly is a question everybody wants to know at the end. May be Cory lacked happiness and love from other humans despite for ‘having it all’. It could be to cover up the feeling of loneliness he wanted to converse with anyone rich or poor. Otherwise, it is not ordinary behavior the rich people move with poor or middle class so easily. Maybe, his social status made him not to have proper human relations because all admired him not loved him. A hint is given in the second stanza on the confused state of his mind as, ‘But still he fluttered pulses when he said, ‘Good Morning…’ It appears, the root of his problem was there when he ‘fluttered pulses’ when moving with people. Some repressed emotional state could have been there bothering him about which he himself was unaware of. Or, it could have been some chemical imbalance in his brain activities that made him not happy. Readers can think of many such reasons because the poet does not suggest beyond this. As its form the poet has selected a fixed structure of four stanzas with equal lengths of lines in them. Four stresses are there in each line except for few. Six lines begin with ‘and’ unifying all ideas to one making the social status of Richard Cory to rise to its climax, in order to pass the final message of futility of having a high social status. _____________________

R.Subasinghe 30 June 2017

Note: In The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis Lacan argues that "man's desire is the desire of the Other." This entails the following: Desire is the desire of the Other's desire, meaning that desire is the object of another's desire and that desire is also desire for recognition. (from Google search)

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 21 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

12. Big Match, 1983

Yasmine Goonaratne (b.1935)

[Note to students of GCE OL (Sri Lanka): Shaded parts and notes are not for your studies.] Yasmine Gooneratne is a Sri Lankan writer writing in English, now residing in Australia. She is a critic, editor, novelist, poet and a university professor who has received high academic awards from the western world. In ‘Big Match, 1983’, she focuses on the violent incidents took place in Sri Lanka in July 1983 against the Tamil community there who were attacked and their properties destroyed or looted by some in Sinhala community as another instance of the conflict between the two communities. The reason for this conflict according to her is making Sinhala the official language in 1956 by the then Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranayaka. ‘…the match that lit this sacrificial fire… …the treacherous politics of language’. Although no written, constitutionally accepted official language was there before that because there was no need to have so in those days - it was in Sinhala and English languages The British and the leaders of Sri Lanka signed their agreement in 1815 in handing over of political power in Sri Lanka to Britain, and thereafter it was in Sinhala and English Britain had contacts with Sri Lanka (then ‘Sinhale’, Ceylon) for a long period. So was it when the Portuguese and the Dutch colonists were signing agreements with local kings since 1505; the languages of agreements were The Portuguese and The Dutch on the colonist’s part and The Sinhala from the local leaders’ part. What SWRD Bandaranayke did was reversing constitutionally to the status Sinhala language previously had after the colonial rule ended in 1948. So when she says it was a ‘treacherous’ act to introduce Sinhala as the official language, her view is distorted, not made on reality; she has ignored therein the historical/ cultural background of the country. Such a view is the same as those colonists’ who, because they found it difficult to deal with the uprisings of the Sinhalese which were at their heights in the years 1818, 1848 and 1915, took every possible measure to suppress the Sinhala community, even by distorting facts. During the period the country was partly under The Dutch and then fully under The British, a large number of Tamil people as Hindus and Muslims were purposely allowed to immigrate to Sri Lanka from Southern India, in thousands during the Dutch period, and in millions during the British period. One of the reasons it was done so is as a strategy of the colonist, to subdue the uprisings of the Sinhalese. The fact that those immigrants wanted to create a new homeland for them in Sri Lanka after gaining independence, using the powers of descendants of the same colonists who brought them, is the main reason for the conflict which political point Yasmine has ignored.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 22 of 49

The immediate cause of violence in 1983 was an armed Tamil group in northern Jaffna killing 13 soldiers in the government army through a bomb explosion. At the burial of their bodies in Colombo, people who participated in it began to attack Tamil civilians and their properties. Those incidents spread throughout Colombo and later in the rest of Sri Lanka and continued for some days. The government either did not control it, or could not control it. The poem is written in descriptive, conversational language in third person omnipresent point of view. There are 7 stanzas containing 5 to 16 lines in each of them. The tone resembles soliloquies in iambic pentameter in Shakespearean drama. It is a ‘tone of lamentation’ according to Shenali Waduge (2014 see notes below.) The poetess exposes us to the incidents through the tourists’ reaction in the west when they saw newspaper headlines. ‘Glimpsing the headlines in the newspapers, Tourists scuttle for cover, cancel their options…’ A visual image is created there with kinesthetic effects in it showing how tourists cancelled their bookings in Sri Lankan hotels after reading newspaper headlines. Seeing the situation in Sri Lanka this way through western tourists’ reactions, almost all those tourists had to be from Europe or USA, as it generally was the tourist arrivals those days - displays the base of Yasmine’s perspective of seeing a local problem through the reactions in the western world, in which, in which, she purposely ignores the realities in the local context. She does not see through an objective and historical/ cultural perspective, hence she ends her judgmental opinion as ‘…the treacherous politics of language’ as the cause of the problems. However, the relevance of making Sinhala the official language in 1956 has to be negligible as a cause, compared with what had happened throughout. A huge propagandist campaign was carried out by the neo-colonialist elements in Sri Lanka then to show making Sinhala the official language has made the Tamil community in Sri Lanka displeased so that there will be clashes between the two communities.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 23 of 49

This makes us see a division in thinking among present Sri Lankan Sinhalese when they deal with local socio-political problems. One group sees through the interests of the western, neo-colonialist perspectives because their thinking is formed by the colonists when they ruled the country. They probably feel they are a part of the modern neocolonialist. As a cover up for negative attributes entailed with neo-colonialist thinking, they use such idealistic thinking like ‘being global’ ‘being international by discarding past’, ‘scientific evolution’ ‘ideal democracy’ ‘classless societies’ ‘reconciliation as an ideal’ ‘island mentality’ and so on. They are the descendants of those who were in privileged, elevated social status when the colonists left, so they became unhappy when the colonists had to leave. They are indoctrinated by local or foreign educational institutes they studied, which were active in inculcating such colonialist thinking on them. The other group sees through the long, linear, local historical background particular to Sri Lanka. in which history, Sinhala Buddhists played the major role for more than two millennia. According to the former, the latter thinks with a ‘Sinhala Buddhist hegemony’ in minds, whereas according to the latter, the former thinks with the neo-colonialist thinking in the western world. Views and solutions of these two groups are almost always contradictory. The former almost always take an assumed basis of a world order by which problems in the world can be solved, in doing which, the local background has to be ignored. We have to think like that according to them; if not we will be isolated from the rest of the world. A built up ‘world order’ is there to which Sri Lanka too has to fit into. They look down upon the local historical and cultural background as ‘primitive’ or ‘tribal’ when they form their ideals on ‘historical evolution’ ‘scientific materialism’ ‘liberalism’ ‘communism’ ‘post modernism’ and so on. Thinking behind the other group is centered on the historical background particular to Sri Lanka in which the Sinhalese Buddhists plays the major role. Any change made, has to fir into that reality. International relations have to fit into the local context, the point of which cannot be ignored just because being small. Written history in Sri Lanka dating back to 5th century AD has to be looked into when taking decisions even for present. No ‘world order’ is there now, but only neo-colonialism which is a continuation of the same colonialism existed until recent past, although the disgraceful outlook in it can be different. Some of those who display such neo-colonialist thinking in modern Sri Lanka descend from the same individuals who aided the British to capture the last king in Sri Lanka in 1815, that ended the Sinhala line of monarchy existed for more than two millennia. It was through such local people the British gained power in Sri Lanka. A few such people are namely, Neela Perumal, Thombi Mudiyanse and Ekneligoda. Descendants of them are now active working for the modern neo-colonialist expectations. Based on the behavior of students and past pupils in some of the ‘big’ schools in Colombo and Kandy in their annual cricket matches, this poem is titled ‘Big Match, 1983’. Students in these schools with their past pupils become emotionally involved when their schools play in these matches. The poetess also plays with the word ‘match’ as ‘punning’ by referring to a match stick as ‘the match that lit this sacrificial fire’. One question that emerges here is, how ethical is it to compare the miseries and agonies caused by ethnic violence to a game of cricket where spectators are there to enjoy. The

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 24 of 49

reason there is, the poetess thinks in line with the thinking of the first group mentioned above. They take calm, detached positions in local problems, and present solutions on global perspectives. Their observations and judgments match the visions and strategies of the modern neocolonialist in creating their way of world order, so that they can hold onto the power they gained for economic exploitation. The poetess compares the scores in this ‘big match fever’ as ‘dizzier scores than any at oval’. She continues to compare the conflicts and suffering caused as ethnic conflict to a game of cricket where people enjoy. In the third stanza she or somebody else imagined, communicates with an old Tamil man who lived in fear in Colombo those days. He appears calm despite for what was happening against his community, to present which she uses a conversational language making some auditory effects. He takes more alcohol now and expects death at any time. This scene makes us compare it with scenes of hundreds of similar situations occurred during the British period of rule; they burnt and destroyed thousands of villages of the Sinhalese in the whole of Sri Lanka, and killed thousands in their wars with the Sinhalese in 1818, 1848 and 1915, (Read: Sinhalaye Sanharaya- Professor Tennakoon Wimalananda- Translation of the title: Massacres in Sinhale) about which, and what happened for about thirty years after these July 1983 incidents, no writer of English possessing neo-colonialist viewpoints has written any poem or other as literature to show they are compassionate with all human beings in equal terms. They pretend to be concerned with humanity but not genuine in what they say. However they are active when involved with propagandist literature that would please their neo-colonialist leaders. When saying ‘tourists scuttle for cover’, she makes it a point to allude to the religion of Buddhism too as, ‘…with views of temple and holy mountain’. The aim, it seems, is to include the Sinhalese with their religion of buddhism too because the majority of the Sinhalese are Buddhists, despite for the three and half centuries attempts of the Catholic and Christian colonialists to turn them to their faiths. The first colonists came to Sri Lanka the Portuguese, are recorded to have stated they were in search of spices and Christians. These colonists found buddhism and buddhist clergy an indomitable threat to their presence in the country. The Portuguese, The Dutch and The British found strong opposition by the Sinhala Buddhists most of whom were directed by the buddhist clergy. That’s a special characteristic in the historical evolution in Sri Lanka in which the Sinhalese have gained experiences in fighting against many foreign invasions throughout their long history. The poetess continues involving Buddhism in the events in the last stanza too as a Tamil person is attacked under a bo-tree, which tree is a symbol of sacredness to the Sinhala Buddhists. ‘….sweating with fear, falls to his knees beneath a bo-tree in a shower of sticks and stones’ What makes her bring religious beliefs of Sinhala buddhists in this poem is worthy of probing further. She hints out here, buddhism teaches practicing love to all life forms

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 25 of 49

(‘maithri bhawana’ - meditation of love) but Sinhalese buddhists are violent despite for their belief; so something is wrong with their faith or with the adherents of it. Thus she deliberately alludes to religious practices, (which religion is probably not her though she is Sinhalese ethnically), in order to degrade the Sinhala buddhist community. She expresses displeasure in the violation of the teachings of The Buddha, the teaching of whom, ironically, is not her faith. (? Note: This point needs to be verified.) The poetess makes The Tamil community the innocent party in the conflict. She mentions of a gone away Tamil boy wanting to come back to Sri Lanka as, ‘…even the gone away boy who had hoped to find lost roots, lost lovers’. The ‘lost roots’ of majority of the Tamils in Sri Lanka could be found in their geographically separated area of Tamilnadu in South India. Prior to two or three previous generations almost all their roots had been there, to where, they are not welcome now. Large scale propaganda activities were active during this period to spread the view, the Tamils lived in Sri Lanka for more than twenty five centuries by even having their own kingdoms, which is not factual. Answers to following questions pertaining to those ‘kings’ are not answered in such claims; 1.Who are those kings? 2. Which other countries or authorities did they have contacts with? 3. Which language did they use to communicate in such foreign contacts? 4. Which lineage of royal dynasty were those kings? 5. Why did not they have contacts with Sinhala kings near them or Tamil or other Dravidian kings in South India if there really were such kings? Finally she hints out at a plan that worked behind those incidents which became true as a ‘Thirty Year War’ later on; that became the next phase of those July incidents. She suggests there that, if the Sinhalese are like that, the Tamils too will not remain innocent. ‘Out of the palmyrah fences of Jaffna bristle a hundred guns. When this vision became a reality later on, was she concerned with same compassion with the sufferings of the victims of their activities too? Or did she justify their activities with expressions like ‘they asked for it; so they have it!’, as some with her thinking still express now? Her vision became true later on. However, the aim of those Tamils in taking guns really was the aspiration of the Tamil community in Tamilnadu in extending their geographical boundaries to Sri Lanka, to add new geographical area for them which activities as making a war formally started on 5th May 1976, eight years before these incidents. Later on, the government of India helped them to train a group of army in India; and at one time. India violated the international laws by coming to northern part of Sri Lanka from air without permission, to support for the Tamil people there by ‘dropping parippu’ (a food item) from the sky. The fact that even when a war was going

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 26 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

on between the government in Sri Lanka and LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) for nearly thirty years, and even now, more than two thirds of the Tamils in Sri Lanka live in villages and towns where Sinhala Buddhists are the majority, is not taken into account in their propagandist literature. It is a view held by some, Sinhala buddhists fell into a purposefully created trap with the July incidents in 1983. The subconscious, colonialist ‘id’ wish of the poetess is finally expressed as, ‘…her agony at last exposed, Sri Lanka burns alive. Use of the phrase ‘at last’ there suggests the one who thinks so has nurtured such expectation for some time. When a person uses the phrase ‘at last’ it denotes joy in realizing a long term expectation. So the poetess here is seen as in joy to see Sri Lanka burns alive at last! The newspaper headline she uses as ‘Racial pot boils over’, too, makes us think it is an expectation rather than an objective vision. Who else would nurture such an expectation but those colonists and neo colonialists who have created minorities in countries they overpowered and now want to use them to their still been in power? Those lines display repressed such ‘id wishes’ of people with colonialist thinking; if we are to expand and see such thinking in language they may appear like, ‘May Sri lanka burn alive, so that Sinhala Buddhists will learn a good lesson and not axt against our powers!’ ‘May it burn like a racial pot for the Sinhala Buddhist tribal people to learn a goodlesson, so that we can deal with them effectively.’ Rather than a portrayal of a picture, those lines show the covert expectations of a neocolonialist in modern Sri Lanka as arising out of the thuppahi consciousness in them. The Sinhala Buddhists, sometimes along with Sinhala Christians, fought with global colonial powers for nearly four and half centuries (1505-1948), but the colonists couldn’t defeat the local people fully as they managed to do so in South America, North America and Africa, by massacring, changing the religions of natives and other cultural backgrounds and populating the areas with people the colonialists wanted. They couldn’t vanquish the Sinhala Buddhists like they vanquished the natives in most of other countries, but had to sign agreements to gain some power. Types of their tactics can be symbolically seen in the instance, just after the agreement was signed in 1815 between Britain and Sinhala leaders, the British appointed a Muslim as a government agent to rule over an area of Sinhala Buddhists, the action of which caused the original spark for the struggle for freedom in 1818. The population of Muslims in Sri Lanka couldn’t have been even 1% then. So it is no wonder the attempt of some recovery made in 1956 by the Sinhalese Buddhists is looked down upon by them because, it is a defeat to them in going back, because it showed the Sinhalese are still awake despite for the heavy attacks on them. Therefore, their thinking now playing as thuppahi consciousness plays with such ‘id’ visions like, they cannot be defeated; so may they be perished by burning alive, as it shown through this poem too. _______________________


Ed. 9 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 27 of 49

Further notes on the poem: For students of GCE OL (Sri Lanka):

These notes are not required for your studies. 

‘Yasmine Gooneratne has no sense of responsibility as a poet for the social harmony of the country where she was born. She seems to be enjoying the event.’ - Professor EA Gamini Fonseka

the tone of lamentation: ‘… the tone of a lamentation alludes to the cunning trick the British colonial masters played over a century under their divide-and-rule policy that promoted racial disharmony by conferring an undue political supremacy upon the Tamil minority over the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka to make them feel like “a minority with a majority complex’ (Shenali D Waduge, 2014)

Jean Arasanayagam, a burgher lady married to a Tamil gentleman, too, has written on the same topic, July 1983. The poets of their kind write nothing when similar or worst things happen to the Sinhalese, the natives of Sri Lanka, either with such ‘tone of lamentation’ or without. That suggests, it is not they are compassionate with the sufferings of human beings, but propagandists in working for political motives in their writing. When sufferings of a selected community is shown to be used against another, biased with personal motives, careless of being concerned equally with the feelings of all parties involved , they cannot have literary values, because no genuine poetic feelings can be there with them. ‘What chance, what hope When all is wrecked. A dead body floats In the calm waters of the lake, Beaten and mutilated, Beggars still hold out their empty palms To all who pass, they alone in poverty can see No difference.’ (Apocalypse – Jean Arasanayagam)

The Theme: Because of the propagandist nature in it, no theme of social or philosophical value can be found in ‘Big Match 1983’. Its theme is a narrow one of the Sinhalese Buddhist community by their very nature are ethno-centered and they attack other communities when they are with them, the opposite of which becomes more obvious when the actual state is seen.

Fear! Only to one Community?: From about 1935, when communist ideologies gained ground in Sri Lanka, there had been much propaganda made in favor of Tamil community helping their aim in extending their boundaries of Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka. The fear among the Sinhala Buddhists, which could also extend to Sinhala Christians, is what would happen to them if their aim is realized.

Historical Background: The long history of Sri Lanka shows the rivalry between the two communities extend far

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 28 of 49

back to about 23 centuries. One of the earliest invaders from South India is Elara who attacked the then Anuradhapura kingdom of the Sinhalese Buddhists and captured that area and ruled there for 22 years. (3rd century BC) Then the Sinhala king Gamunu gathered an army from the south and fought against him and won the war. In the final battle in this regard at Anuradhapura, King Gamunu challenged Elara to have a dual fight with him to decide success or defeat, so that deaths of thousands could be prevented if they were to make war. Elara too agreed, thus only the two of them fought. Elara died at this duel that made Gamunu win. King Elara when dying had requested Gamunu to protect his people at Anuradhapura after his death, to which Gamunu agreed. That was how they made wars those days. From then on there had been similar attacks on Sri Lanka from South India time and again, as similar conflicts are there with them now too, though in a different way. All these show, their desire for expansion towards south has become a major problem of survival for The Sinhalese as a community, because of which, they always react to their plans. Colonial Phase (1505-1948): Present ‘colonial phase’ of the conflict started in 1505 with the arrival of the Portuguese. Since the Sinhala king was continuously fighting with them, The Portuguese began to use the strategy of getting the help of Tamils in Southern India who were visiting Jaffna peninsula for fishing, while some of them settling down for longer periods. Portuguese historical records show the Sinhala population in Jaffna peninsula then were around 50%. Trincomalee was the port of the Sinhala king in the then Kandyan kingdom. The Portuguese entered into agreements with some Tamils promising a country of their own and declared one of them the king in Jaffna. However, this Tamil ‘king’ refused to convert to Catholic faith against the wish of the Portuguese, so he was killed by the Portuguese themselves. That was the origin of the mythical ideal state of ‘Eelam’ (=Sinhalam SeelamEelam), the Tamil Kingdom, with their own king. Some say ‘Eelam’ the Tamil country, really began when Kalingha and Magha invaders from South India attacked Sri Lanka in the 13th century; however such attacks were repulsed by the Sinhalese like other such invasions from South India in the past. There was no globally accepted Tamil kingdom anywhere in Sri Lanka or other area despite for the claims made on it. After the Dutch captured the coastal areas in Sri Lanka from Portuguese, they, too, used the Tamils to their advantage. They allowed thousands of South Indians to arrive in Sri Lanka as laborers mainly to work in road building and tobacco cultivation. Some of them were from Kerala; since they came from Malabar coast they were called ‘Malabaris’. They were given a privilege of having their own legal system called ‘thesawalame’ in Jaffna peninsula according to which The Sinhalese couldn’t buy their land in north, whereas they could buy land from anywhere in Sri Lanka, the application of which law was there throughout the rest of colonial periods. Schools were made for them after they were converted to Dutch Christianity. This is one reason Tamils became privileged in education when the British left in 1948. Nearly 50% of the students in the medical and engineering faculties in universities were from the 12% of Tamils in northern area at the time Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. One reason for clashes in 1983 was The Sinhalese trying to gain more access to the universities. By using AL examination answer scripts the then Minister Cyril Matthew showed (1978/80?) in the parliament how Tamil students had been favored by giving them more marks to make more of them enter universities. Millions of Tamils were allowed to migrate to Sri Lanka in the British period after killing the Sinhalese in the wars in1818, 1848 and 1915, because of which, Tamils found it easy to have their dream of making a separate homeland in Sri Lanka. This became still easier when

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 29 of 49

the British rulers captured all village lands of ‘Sinhale’ (as it was known then) as ‘crown land’ under the Barren Land Act in 1883(?) and turned them into large estates, which was later known as ‘Lipton’s Tea Estate ’ by them. 

Creation of the Thuppahis: By the time the British left, they had successfully created a group among the Sinhala people to denounce the historical background and traditions they were heir to. Descendants of them are now with the descendants of the same colonists the latter of whom can now be seen as neo-colonialists. They were allowed opportunities to be rich and educated and given powerful positions by the British rulers. To these ‘converted’ Sinhala Buddhists and Christians Professor Nalin de Silva use the term ‘the thuppahis’. Main characteristic of them is they look down upon the historical and cultural background particular to Sri Lanka, as affected by a feeling of inferiority caused by the appearance of their masters the colonists. When conflicts occur between Tamils and Sinhalese or Muslims and Sinhalese, these ‘thuppahis’, pretend to mediate but always take positions against the Sinhala Buddhists because their envy is focused on the local historical/ cultural background. This group is one cause the minority Tamils and Muslims sometimes getting the upper hand over the Sinhalese. The Tamil minority wanted to keep to their privileged status after Independence in 1948 too, but the majority Sinhalese wanted to take the opportunity to their advantage as recovering from the blows they suffered from colonialists for centuries.

‘The Other’ ‘The Big Other’ and ‘Symbolic Father’: As regards ethnic conflicts some attribute them to a relationship of ‘binary opposition’ involving ‘The Other’ as discussed in philosophical and psychological circles. Some relate them to other similar concepts of ‘The Big Other’ or ‘Symbolic Father’ too. These concepts may be compared and contrasted with ‘Super ego’ mentioned in Freudian psychology or ‘Collective Consciousness’ mentioned in Carl Jung’s findings. he Other of the ‘colonist’ is the ‘colonized’ according to them. If so, The Other of the ‘neo-colonialist’ in modern day ought to be the ‘previously colonized’. According to some, The Other of a Sinhala Buddhist is a Tamil, because of which, Sinhala Buddhists are always on the alert on what Tamils do. If it is so, ‘The Other’ of a Tamil, too, ought to be the Sinhala Buddhist by seeing the same in opposite; thus, Tamils, too, ought to react to what Sinhala people do, especially after they got an opportunity to migrate to Sri Lanka in millions, in the 19th century. This conflict had been there for more than two millennia; they began to be aggravated after The Portuguese, The Dutch and The British used the Tamils as a strategy to gain power and to keep power. They allowed Tamils to come from Tamilnadu in thousands in the Dutch period and in millions during the British period among whom were Tamil speaking Muslims too. They resort to fantasies too now, one of which is claiming a historical background of having a mysterious country in Sri Lanka called ‘Eelam’, a one against the Sinhalese resorting to their written history of kings saving them from south Indian invasions. As regards having their own Tamil kings in a separate Tamil kingdom in Sri Lanka, following questions are asked to which no successful answers can be found:

1.Who are those kings? 2. Which other countries or authorities did they have contacts with? 3. Which language did they use to communicate in such foreign contacts?

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 30 of 49

4. Which lineage of royal dynasty were those kings? 5. Why did not they have contacts with Sinhala kings near them or Tamil or Other Dravidian kings in South India if there really were such kings? 

Seeing the relevance of ‘The Other’ in ethnic conflicts can be discussed by viewing the notion of ‘Consciousness’ in a different angle by creating divisions in it in an ethnic perspective as ‘Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness’ ‘Tamil Hindu Consciousness’ and so on. We think and work on such divisions when it is real life; so they need not be overlooked or hidden when studying the nature of them. Consciousnesses divided herein on ethnicity may be considered parts of the same Collective Consciousness Carl Jung mentioned. It can also be the same consciousness divided as ‘conscious’ ‘subconscious’ or ‘id’ ‘ego’ ‘superego’ in Freudian Psychology, which is seen in a different dimension . When ‘consciousness’ is seen on an ethnic perspective, 4 types of them can be identified as they pertain to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka, as follows: 1. Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness: General feeling behind Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness is, The Tamil community is the ‘Harmful The Other’ determined to grab parts of Sri Lanka for them only; so that the Sinhala people will have to be limited geographically to smaller and still smaller areas culminating in their extinction. This ‘Harmful The Other’ is miserly as regards their covert motive of geographical expansion, and they are very aggressive when they work with that motive. They use false propaganda to reach their aim; hence they have poets writing in English for their expansion. The Neocolonialist Consciousness which is the continuation of the same thinking of former colonizers has taken over the role of assisting the Tamil Hindu Consciousness the same way the colonizers did earlier. 2. Tamil Hindu/ Christian Consciousness: General feeling behind Tamil Hindu/ Christian Consciousness is they desire to expand southward geographically from Tamilnadu in India, because they cannot expand northward. In addition, they do not have their own country where they rule themselves. The end justifies the means, so they do whatever possible to achieve their aim. Historical events have facilitated them in some ways to realize their aim. The colonizers have facilitated them in recent history and now the neo-colonialists too are doing the same. A liquidated section of Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness, too, is there with the neo colonialist consciousness to help them. To use Professor Nalin De Silva’s terminology, this liquidated section are ‘the thuppahis. 3. Neocolonialist Consciousness: General feeling of the neocolonialist consciousness is to weaken any country which is not with them in dominating the world political/ economic scene. Their ‘The Other’ is any country which is politically and economically powerful that can be a challenge to them. Any small country that allies with such a powerful country seen as their ‘The Other’, too, is a part of the same ‘The Other’. Just after the Tamil war for separation in Sri Lanka was over in 2009, their ‘The Other’ was Sri Lanka. Hence, the present situation in Sri Lanka began to be dominated by their strategies. 4. Consciousness of the Formerly Colonized: General feeling of the formerly colonized when in Sri Lanka is now split into two. Some of them, as mentioned previously, are liquidated into the neo –colonialist

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 31 of 49

consciousness who can be identified in their irrational use of ideals like ‘globalization’ ‘socialism’ ‘historical evolution’ ‘ideal democracy’ ‘communism’ ‘scientific evolution’ ‘post modernism’ and so on; and by their voluntarily rejecting their historical ethnic identity. ‘The Other’ of them is ‘The Sinhala Buddhist/ Christian’. Those who are not liquidated in to neo –colonialist consciousness like those among the ‘Formerly Colonized’; they possess the Sinhala Buddhist/ Christian consciousness. 

‘The Big Other’ ‘The Big Other’ in a society represents law and order in our minds felt as if in a personified state. Since Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness had been powerful in Sri Lanka because they were active and they were the majority in the county for a long time as the only established settlers until the Portuguese came; with a long, linear, written historical evolution in with lines of monarchies continuing for two and half millennia; personified state. Since Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness had been powerful in Sri Lanka because they were active and the majority in the county for a long time as the only established settlers until the Portuguese came; with a long, linear, written historical evolution in the country with lines of monarchies continuing for two and half millennia; they have to be strong for ‘The Big Other’ to function well in Sri Lanka. A peaceful country of law and order cannot be established in Sri Lanka when Sinhala Buddhist Consciousness is ignored. So is it with an English Consciousness if it is in Britain. However Sinhala Buddhists are not allowed to be strong by the ‘neo-colonialist consciousness’ the ‘thuppahi consciousness’ and the Tamil Hindu/ Christian Consciousness. A large number of world Tamil population too is there to make the Sinhala Buddhists weak. The Sinhala thuppahis too take the side of the Tamil Hindu Consciousness’ to aggravate the situation. The writer of the poem ‘Big match 83’, too, has taken such a stance as to support for the neocolonialist consciousness. ‘The Other’ of a Sinhala person need not always be the Tamil person. When The Portuguese were ruling parts of the country it was the Portuguese. When the Dutch were replaced by the Portuguese it was the Dutch. Then it was The British. It could sometimes be the Muslims.

Suggested Solution to Ethnic Problems: Allow Natural Assimilation Process to work on its own:

Ethnic conflicts occur when one or many ethnic groups work against the Natural Assimilation Process that take place everywhere in the world, all the time. In an

instance an ethnic community migrates to a new country and settles down there where another ethnic community is the predominant group, communal peace reigns only when that migrant community accepts and respects the established culture and traditions of the community which is already there. The migrants have to be naturally assimilated with the local community that requires a lengthy process of time, in the processes of which both communities shares their cultural traits at the same time as forfeiting some. Such ‘Natural Assimilation’ has to be an unconscious process where neither communities of A nor B uses conscious thinking in doing so. It need not be considered as any one community is dominating over the other when in such a process, but as the only natural and the most humanistic remaining way of reconciliation.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 32 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Instead of allowing such a way for that natural and civilized process of assimilation, if the migrant community insists on privileged status for their language or cultural practices, claiming rights for geographical parts of the country migrated to by true or false claims, or make conscious attempts to change the cultural characteristics in areas claiming they are their land conflicts or wars become inevitable as happened in Sri Lanka. When such aggressive inhuman attitudes are supported by powerful external sources, those external sources have to be considered adding fuel to fire for their personal advantages, not as having compassions for humanitarian causes. Such threatening occupation of an ethnic group is an uncivilized invasion, not Natural Assimilation leading to reconciliation ___



15 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 33 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

13. The Earthen Goblet

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya (1898- 1990)

‘The Earthen Goblet’ is a poem written by Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, an Indian poet writing in English. He is also an actor, singer, dramatist and a politician and a member of parliament in India, ‘Lok Sabha’. He is the younger brother of Sarojini Naidu, who was also a famous poetess and politician in India. The poem is structured as a question and the answer to it. The poet asks the ‘goblet’ how it feels; the goblet replies it is unhappy of being a goblet but enjoyed it when it was in its natural, shapeless form of clay. This reminds us of John Keats’ address to an urn in his ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. There Keats addresses an old Greek urn existed for about 25 centuries, and appreciates the beauty in it. There the poet does not expect the urn to respond. However, in The Earthen Goblet it replies the poet the reply of which is the important part in the poem. The language Keats used is classical, whereas in ‘The Earthen Goblet’ it is colloquial as suitable to its structure. The theme is, beauty is seen when a thing is in its natural state, and such beauty is lost when man interferes with it and give shapes to it. What man creates as beauty is artificial, which is not real beauty. Depth in beauty lies when things are in nature. The poet also tells, when the goblet was clay in its natural form, it enjoyed with a life form of a flower but no longer is that flower there now. ‘…fragrant friendship of a little flower Whose root was in my bosom buried deep’.


The phrase ‘my bosom buried deep’ here connotes the flower did not live with the clay as separate from it, but it was the same as it. However, it feels its existence now as death as stated in the last stanza, ‘The Potter has drawn out the living breath of me And given me a form which is the death of me’ This suggests, real beauty is related to life forms, whereas beauty created by man by creating shapes is related to ‘death’. Two rhyming words in these two lines ‘breath’ and ‘death’ suggest contrast of life and death. Breath makes us live while death makes us cease to be life forms. Thus, the poet suggests, beauty and life are with nature, not with manmade artificial things having forms. When the goblet says ‘My past unshapely natural state was best’, it suggests, shapes given to natural things do not create beauty. A division can be made from this in

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 34 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

beauty as natural beauty where no shapes are there, and man made beauty of creating shapes as artificial beauty. Real beauty does not require to have shapes. First stanza contains many /l/ phonemes (speech sound units); all its lines end rhyming in /l/ sound. (see the illustration) 10 syllables are there in each of the first and the last lines in the first stanza, with number of stresses in them as 5 and 4 respectively. The 3 lines in between them are short, and they have 4 or 5 syllables and 2 stresses in each. The verb ‘twirl’ in it creates an effect of onomatopoeia making the reader feel agonizing experiences of motion when it was spinning on a wheel, suggesting helplessness and suffering. Rhyming is used in most places as ‘clay’ ‘away’ and ‘vast’ ‘cast’ though lengths of lines are irregular except in the last stanza. Stressed words ‘death’ and ‘breath’ in two lines in the last stanza also shows rhyming, though they are not at the end of lines. Last 4 lines are regularized as two rhyming couplets which is suitable there because they summarize the poem. Most of the soliloquies in Shakespearean drama end in similar rhyming couplets uttered in a tone to indicate it ends from there. In the phrase ‘bosom buried deep’ alliteration is used whereas the phrase ‘fragrant friendship’ create sensual feelings along with alliteration. The poet has successfully dealt with his theme, beauty is there when things are in their natural states without shapes, and it is not there when man interferes with them. No shapes are required to see beauty in nature, though man creates beauty through shapes. Natural beauty is also related to life forms whereas man made beauty is related to death. _________________

R.Subasinghe 2 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 35 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

14. Father and Son

Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) 1948-

The song is structured as a dialogue between a father and a son wherein the son does not understand the father, so he is unhappy. Father thinks according to experiences of his age which thinking does not match with the son’s expectations. Father thinks he leads a calm content life and his son too ought to be like him, but the son is restless and impatient. The son, as it is in the nature of youth, sees the world ideally, so he desires to make changes according to those ideals. Father thinks the son ought to have nothing to worry, so no need is there for him to change. He tells his position, ‘It’s not time to make a change’, though the son has plans for changes. About the change he wants the son says, ‘Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away.’ Father’s inability to understand the son is seen when the son says, ‘How can I try to explain, because when I do he turns away again’. It appears there is a communication gap between them, where they cannot make one another understand what they say. This conflict situation makes the son frustrated, impatient and angry, reasons for which moods father cannot comprehend. The background of the poem is related also to the Revolution took place in Russia in 1917. The youth, generally, are more idealistic than practical, whereas the old are more practical than ideal. Thus, the youth tend to become radical activists as regards social changes. They want to change the social structures to suit their ideals. They long for societies where all are equal and no injustices or indifferences are among people. When a social revolution takes place in a country the youth are attracted to it because aims in revolutions contain idealistic expectations, so they want to join them, the position of which the older generation cannot understand. So the theme of this poem is conflicting situations in thinking among generations in which one generation does not understand its previous or following generation, at least partially. Children have to break their attachments with families and become free individuals at one time of their growth. However, many young people are unable to break away from them making it a psychological problem to them. The poem may be showing such a problem as faced by a youth. Father thinks his son ought to be happy because he got everything. He tells the son, ‘Why think of everything you have got’. He also thinks being young is a fault as, ‘You’re still young, that’s your fault’ meaning, may be, the young are not experienced like him. Father’s view can be correct from his angle of seeing, while son’s view can be correct from his angle of seeing. As a song, father’s tone of singing shows a person calm, relaxed and content with life, whereas son’s tone shows impatience, expectations, tension, and even frustration. Thus, the emotional aspect of the generation gap is shown through the tones themselves when singing. Irregular lengths of lines are there though when they are sung, strict patterns of musical beats become evident. Rhyming is used at times, though the poet has not become slavish to poetic techniques. Examples for the use of techniques of

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 36 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

alliteration, assonance and internal rhyming are seen in following two lines: Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away’ ‘All the times I have cried, keeping all the things I knew inside’ Ordinary conversational language is used as suitable to a dialogue although the son’s reaction to father can be considered also as a monologue of thinking. The poet Cat Stevans has mentioned once about this poem, ‘…it was my father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father speaking.’ meaning such attitudes of fathers towards sons are universal; so he was dealing with a universal theme. ________________

15. Fear - Gabriela Mistral

R.Subasinghe . 2 July 2017

(Lucila Godoy Alcayaga 1889 -1957)

Known in the pseudonym Gabriela Mistral, her real name is Lucila Godoy Alcayaga. She is the first Spanish American author to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. As a Spanish American, Gabriela drew attention to cultural values and traditions of her background. Through her poetry, newspaper articles and letters she speaks strongly about them and submit views on them at conferences as the representative for Chile. Her themes deal with the passion of love in one to one relationships between mother and child, man and woman, individual and humankind, God and soul and so on. She dealt with people like an abandoned woman, a jealous lover, a mother who fears because of her child, a woman who tries to comfort others, a storyteller and so on. She shows the states of those who are ill treated like children, women, Native Americans, Jews, victims of wars and so on. Her views also contain religious connotations according to her religious background. The poem ‘Fear’ is divided into 3 stanzas each of which contains 8 lines of equal lengths. Thus the poem is structured on a regular pattern. So are the contents of them. In the first stanza the central image is a visual one of a ‘swallow ’. She tells there she does not want her daughter to be a ‘swallow’ so that her daughter could escape from her ‘straw bed’, and also because she cannot comb the girl's hair when she ‘nest in the eaves’. The image ‘straw bed’ there connotes mother is not of a rich family, She wants her daughter to sleep in her bed, in her poor house forever. In the second stanza the central image is a visual one of a ‘princess’. There she says she doesn’t want her daughter to be a ‘princess’ because then that daughter will wear golden slippers and then she cannot sleep by her side. The central image in the third stanza, which is also a visual one, is a ‘queen’. There she says she does not want her daughter to be a queen because then she will not be able to

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 37 of 49

rock her in a cradle. These three instances illustrate the strong bondage mother has with her child. However, such a wish of a mother confronts with the reality. Children have to leave their parents at one time of their growth. So naturally, a mother suffers when such a time comes. Thus, the theme of this poem can be taken as the conflict situation caused by a mother’s wish of keeping her children with her forever, which desire is against reality. Round these three central images, many other visual images are used to support them. In the first stanza they are the ‘sky’ a ‘straw bed’ and ‘eaves’. Another visual image too is used there with kinesthetic effect in it as a mother combing the hair of her daughter. In the second stanza such supporting images are ‘tiny golden slippers’ and a ‘meadow’. There, too. kinesthetic effects are created as the girl is playing on a ‘meadow’. Similarly the third stanza has supporting visual images of a ‘throne’ and a ‘cradle’. There the kinesthetic effect is created in the mother’s rocking a cradle. Thus, not only in lengths and numbers in lines, the poetess has adhered to a strict pattern in the use of visual and kinesthetic images too. Also, the three central images ‘swallow’, ‘princess’ and ‘queen’ are arranged in a hierarchical order as from simple level of a swallow to the highest level of a queen. The fact that these visual images also relate to fairy tales, gives the poem a universal value of being applicable to diverse cultures, because, fairytales in almost all cultures have similarities. The mother expresses a fear for some unknown beings she calls ‘them’ who could take her daughter away from her. The term ‘them’ here can be considered representing forces that makes a child to be drawn to the society when they grow. They represent conceptual states rather than real people. As examples, when the girl has found a job or some work to do, she has to contact other people and travel too; or, she can be attracted towards a boyfriend, many such things could occur in the natural growth of a girl when becoming an adult. Mother’s position here can be considered selfish because she seems to overprotect her daughter by interfering with her natural growth. A daughter has also to be with her relatives, friends, teachers, and so on. It could also be taken as this mother was simply fancying as done in poetic thinking, rather than she really wants it that way in her actual life. Anyone who is a parent can relate to the poem to some degree. Parents want to hold onto their children longer than the children are able to. They want to hold onto their children close, but they must let them go at some point. ________________

R.Subasinghe . 2 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 38 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

16.The Clown’s Wife

Johnson Agard (1949

Johnson Agard is a poet and playwright born in Guyana, South America, later lived in Britain. He wrote mainly for children His themes are on ethnicity, mythology, morality and technological advancement. At times he used humor too. In The Clown’s Wife some abnormal behavior of a clown is depicted through the observations of his wife. As in the poem ‘Richard Cory’ this poem too deals with the theme, appearance does not show the reality. General acceptance is, a clown is a happy one, but the clown in this poem is unhappy. This creates an effect of irony. A clown is a person who makes people laugh; so he cannot be unhappy. In ‘Richard Cory’ a seemingly successful man commits suicide that surprised all who admired him. In this poem a seemingly successful clown is unhappy that makes his wife wonder. The clown in this poem has a dual personality. His public life is the opposite of his private life in being happy or sad. This connotes, we cannot be happy all the time although everyone wants to be so. Those who are seemingly happy have their sad aspects in life too. Those who are seemingly sad have their happy aspects too. A clown has his own life and his personal interests like all others. What people see as the life of a clown is his acting, what he performs as his profession, because of which, most people do not know his real life. His happiness is a pretense made to make people happy. According to his wife, he is a ‘king on a throne’ but ‘…you should hear him moan when at home’. The device of alliteration used with \m\ phoneme in this line ‘…you should hear him moan when at home’, gives an enhanced effect in showing the relationship of the clown’s sadness to his home. He doesn’t laugh at home because something is there that makes him unhappy, the reason for which is not obvious. Is he subject to a type of depression the reason for which he doesn’t know? Is he unhappy with the general nature in life? Has he financial problems that his wife doesn’t know of? Has he an affair with another woman? Does he suspect his wife? Don’t they have children about which he is unhappy? Since it is difficult to come to a decision the reader is at a loss to comprehend the situation. The question is left to the reader because the poet doesn’t give it. The only expression he makes are in the last two lines as emotional expressions showing dissatisfaction, as, ‘Oh life Ah life’, and muttering to himself, ‘what would I do without this clown of a wife? It is through the ambiguous meanings in these lines that the reader has to guess what has gone wrong. The word ‘life’ is repeated here twice and it rhymes with ‘wife’ showing ‘life’ and ‘wife’ could be the key words in understanding his problem.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 39 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

By going through the literal meaning in what he mutters, he seems to be wondering how he could live if not for his wife. It suggests his wife is the only bondage by which he is bound to life. If it is so, then why should he refer to her a ‘clown of a wife?’ To please him she uses the same acts a clown makes. She doesn’t know one cannot please a clown by performing clownish acts because he ought to be fed up with them by doing them all the time. All these makes us wonder whether the clown is unhappy because of the general nature in life. We are not happy all times just as we aren’t unhappy too all times. When people lead routine lives, too, they become unhappy. When we grow old and we cannot do the things that we did once, then we become bored, unhappy, reasons for which cannot be told sometimes because they are hidden in the depths of mind. Thus the poet might be telling us the psychological nature of a depression that could occur to anybody. When you take a clown as an example to show this, it is expressed well because a clown is considered to be a symbol of simple joys in life. The wife of the clown is presented as caring and loving. She refers to him as ‘poor soul’ and does things to cheer him. The wife is a solace to the unhappy life of the clown. However, that concern of her cannot change the pathetic situation of the clown, the position of which may be applicable to all people in general. The number of lines in stanzas in this poem are irregular. The first one has 2 lines second and third have 3 lines in each. The fourth stanza has 4 lines. However, some form can be identified in the number of stresses in lines. In all lines except the two short lines ‘what could I say?’ ‘Oh life ah life’ in which there are 2 stresses only, all other lines have 3 or 4 stresses in them. While the second stanza has only 3 stresses in each line, the fourth one has strictly patterned lines and 4 stresses in each. (see the illustration.) Strong kinesthetic effects are created in the four lined stanza in which motion of what the wife does to make him happy as ‘juggling with eggs’, ‘turning cartwheels’ ‘telling jokes’ etc. are shown. When it is ‘telling jokes’ some auditory effects too are added to the scene. The poet has used simple and colloquial language as the wife reporting the clown’s problem. When she uses ‘me’ instead of ‘my’ in her saying ‘I do me best…’ that shows the use of day to day speech which is unacceptable when in formal writing. However, the poet seems to have used his ‘poetic license’ here (see the note below) using such language showing the type of family background of the clown.. _______________

R.Subasinghe . 18 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 40 of 49

Note: Poetic license: A poet or other creative writer ought to have some freedom in changing forms of words or structures in grammar as suitable to his work.

17. The Camel’s Hump

(Rudyad Kipling -1865- 1936


Rudyard Kipling is an English author famous for his books 'Just So Stories' and 'The Jungle Book'. He is also the author of some novels. He was born in 1865 in Bombay, India, where his father was a professor at the Bombay School of Art. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907. One of his famous poems ‘If’, contains advices from a father to a son. It shows a unique ability Kipling has to fit contents to a strict form in a poem. He has shown the same ability in the poem ‘The Camel’s Hump’ too, giving an advice to children in a poem by fitting contents to a strict form. ‘The Camel’s Hump’ contains a simple advice to children not to be lazy. To illustrate his point he uses his own story how the camel got its humps. (see note 1 below). Thus the central image of the poem is the ‘camels hump’. The word ‘hump’ is used in this poem more than 10 times. In three stanzas it is used three times in each, while in two others it is used two times in each. In the first line it rhymes with ‘lump’ too giving it an effect of alliteration as, ‘The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump’. Thus the word ‘hump’ reverberates in mind when we get used to the poem. The Camel’s hump here symbolizes laziness. According to the story, the camel, in the earliest days of creation, was punished by the jinn in charge of the desert for not doing the work expected from him. Because of his not working, he was given three humps on his back as a punishment and he was forced to do extra work. The story teaches, everyone has to do the work or duty assigned. The poet tells in the first stanza, the camel’s humps look ugly, but when one gets humps as punishment for being lazy, then they would look uglier. Such humps given for punishment would look black and blue in color as mentioned in the last line in fourth stanza, creating color images on the reader which is repeated as the ending line in the sixth stanza too. In the second stanza the poet says ‘Kiddies and grownups too’ which means when getting such punishment, it makes no difference whether they are kids or adults. An image is created in the third stanza of the behavior of a person who is lazy as, ‘with a frouzly head’ and ‘snarly yarly voice ’. The poet has used all sensual images at one and the same scene there as, ‘frouzly head’ (visual)‘snarly yarly voice’ (auditory) ‘shiver and scowl’ (tactile, visual and kinesthetic) ‘grunt…growl’ (auditory)‘bath…boots…toys’ (tactile and visual). Thus that stanza is particularly effective in giving stronger effect to the poem. The poet provides an answer too to avoid getting a ‘hump’ as to get ‘…a large hoe and a shovel also…And dig..’ as stated in the fourth stanza. This means we have to perspire to

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 41 of 49

avoid being lazy. He also mentions that even reading a book is useless to avoid being lazy. If one perspires, even the sun and the wind along with the ‘jinn’ help him in not getting a ‘…cameelious hump’. The poet uses words creatively in this poem even by changing the forms in them as ‘Cameelious’ ‘too-oo-oo’’ ‘ doo-oo-oo’ ‘snarly yarly’ and so on. A poet is expected to have freedom to use language creatively like that, the ability of having which is called ‘poetic license’. (see note 2 below) The poem is written in simple language as suitable to children. Alliteration and assonance have been used in the use of rhyming words like ‘hump’ ‘lump’ ‘bed’ head’ ‘scowl’ ‘growl’ and so on. Stanzas 2, 4 and 7 can be used as refrain when singing it as a song. Except in those stanzas the other 4 stanzas begin with lines of rhyming in middle and end as, ‘The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump’ and ‘The cure for this ill, is not to sit still’ and so on. Exaggeration of /o/ sounds as ‘too-oo-oo’ ‘do-oo-oo’ and ‘you-oo-oo’ in two of these stanzas suggest they could be for singing in chorus. Repetition of the phrase ‘Camelilious hump’ and lines like ‘Kiddies and grownups too’ ‘The hump that is black and blue’ emphasizes on points the poet wants to elaborate on. Such repetition when it is sung adds beauty to the poem and draws the attention especially of children. The Camel’s Hump obviously is a children’s poem, but everyone can get a message from it. Feeling lazy and unwillingness to join who work makes a person unpleasant and unattractive to the society. _____________


2 July 2017

Note: 1. The Story: (one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories)

How the Camel Got his Hump Long ago animals just began to work for men. Many animals including horses, dogs and oxen went to work for men but the camel did not do its work properly and went to live in the middle of the desert to avoid working. On three days the horse, the dog and the ox came to the desert to ask the camel to work for men. On each occasion the camel refused to work by only making the sound, ‘Hump’. After the third day, the three animals told the man the camel refuses to work so they have to do more work and complained also to the jinn who was in charge of the desert. The jinn went to the camel and ordered him to work for three days, but the camel only said, ‘Hump’ and did not work. Then the Jinn used his powers and made humps to appear on his back as a punishment. The Jinn ordered him to go and work for man, and from that day the camels have humps and they have to work for man. Note 2 Poetic license: A poet or other creative writer ought to have some freedom in changing forms of words or structures in grammar as suitable to his work.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 42 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

18. Upside down

- Alexandre Kushner


Alexander Kushner is one of the famous Russian poets. His poems have been translated into many languages like English, Dutch, Italian, German, French, Japanese and so on. He is the author of more than 30 books of poetry and he has written many articles on classical and modern Russian poetry. The poem ‘Upside Down’ is structured on a strict form of four line stanzas using simple diction. The poet belongs to the poetic group of ‘acmes’ whose general view on poetry was fitting contents in simple diction to a strict form and be direct in expression without using similes, metaphors and symbols. Except for the second stanza the other nine are couplets conforming to aabb rhyme scheme; the second one only has the rhyme scheme of abab. The poem has an easy-moving rhythm as fitting for its theme and the purpose. Use of direct speech at some places makes the poem more interesting. The humor in it arises because of the absurd behavior of the person called Upside Down. The theme is a simple one of a person who always does things opposite to or different to others’ ways of doing. It is a positive quality of great people sometimes they think different to others thinking, or they are beyond ordinary in thinking, because of which they become well known or great people. However, the person depicted in this poem seems to be doing so because of some abnormal condition in him. His character is portrayed in an exaggerated (hyperbolic) manner leading to absurdities. The reader is taken away from reality in depicting the person’s unnatural behavior. Realistically, it is impossible to behave the way this character does. However, the purpose of the poet seems to be to portray the character in such exaggerated manner by surpassing reality that makes the reader’s experience a deeper one. Some of the best poems are written to create such absurdities giving deeper aesthetic impacts on the readers. As an example, we can take ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ written by Lewis Carrol that appear in one of his famous books for children. Following is one stanza of the poem that tells what a walrus and a carpenter were talking about the sand on the sea beach where they walk. If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?" "I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 43 of 49

The reader who tries to get the literal meaning in this by using logic and reason cannot appreciate its beauty. The poem ‘Upside Down’ contains nine instances of Upside-Down’s abnormal behavior as; 1.When he is told to turn to right he turns to left. 2. When he is in a boat in water others cannot explain to him the difference between when on land and when on water. 3.When he reads or writes letters it is always backside to front so that ‘not’ is written as ‘ton’. 4. When he has to cross a bridge he wades through water instead of crossing it, if it is not deep. 5.When he goes to a restaurant he asks for things people there cannot get a meaning like, “…a pair of socks with clocks on them, and in a box”. 6. When he is at a circus, people laugh at him more than they laugh at the clown. 7. He stuck the letter sent by his aunt on his hat. 8.He wears flannel cloth when it is hot. 8.He goes naked when he should not. Upside-Down has become a social ‘misfit’ or a laughing stock for the society due to his behavior. However, he does not behave in an anti-social manner. Some of his behavior like he cannot understand the difference between when on land and when on water, asking people things which are not in reality, people laughing at his behavior, he takes the letter and ‘…eyed it this way, eyed it that’ show the characteristics of a deviant (see notes 2 and 3 below) when seeing from a psychological point of view. He is not in reality and his acts are like that of a schizophrenic. No one can make him behave in a rational manner. May be he feels a sense of loneliness or alienation because of his inability to fit into a social life. Sometimes he is unsure of himself and his abilities: ‘Shall I read it…p’raps I can’t.’ Last two lines suggest a morale for the poem which is given as an advice to Upside Down’ by his aunt. If one’s behavior does not conform to the society, he will not be accepted or recognized by the society: ‘You must behave as others do If they’re to have respect for you!’ This advice suggests, everyone must always behave according to social conventions. However, the question arises there as to how a society could progress if all follow routine practices in which no one questions on the validity of them. For societies to progress, established orders of things have to be questioned and changed time to time. _____________________

R.Subasinghe 2 July 2017

Notes: 1. acmeists (acmeism) – A group of poets in Russia who conformed to poems of compactness of form and clarity of expression and direct expression’. 2. deviant – mentally abnormal person 3.schizophrenic. A type of mental patient who cannot differentiate his mental world with the real.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 44 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

19. The Hunstman

Edward Lowbury 1913

‘The Huntsman’ is written by modern English poet Edward Lowbury. In this poem, he tells a story of a Kenyan folk tale by fitting contents into a strict poetic form. The poem contains 5 stanzas with 6 lines in each of them. The first and the last lines in each stanza are short sentences of 3 stresses written in past simple tense except for two last lines. This shortness in sentences with few simple words draw the reader’ effortless attention towards the poem making it easy reading and giving it the quality of simplicity. Ex: - short lines as beginnings of stanzas with 3 stresses in each line: - (Stressed places are marked in bold and underlined.) ‘Kagwa hunted the lion’ ‘Kagwa hurried home’ ‘ The king called out his guards’ etc. - short sentences as end lines in stanzas:(except in the second which has a long line of ending.) ‘Talking brought me here’ ‘This Kagwa himself must die’ ‘But the skull said nothing’ etc. (First line of these ‘Talking brought me here’ making it seen as a key sentence. )

is repeated as the end of last stanza too,

Lines in between these beginnings and endings have four stresses in most of them, which are used to describe what went in between the times mentioned in them . The story can be summarized stanza by stanza because it is written in the chronological order of events. The first stanza tells how Kagwa the hunter came across a skull talking to him. In the second stanza he informs it to the king. In the third the king informs his guards to check whether what Kagwa says is true, and if it is not to kill him. Fourth stanza tells Kagwa finds the skull with the guards, but it does not speak this time. In the last stanza the guards kill Kagwa thinking he was lying. It is after his death only the skull talks and asks Kagwa ‘…how did you come here?’, to which dead Kagwa replies ‘Talking brought me here’. Thus Kagwa had become foolish to tell his experience to the king and lose his life for that. According to the first stanza Kagwa hunted lions by using a spear. In the last stanza he is killed by sword and spear. This poem is written to amuse the reader by telling a story which is appealing to read because it contains mystery, terror, cruelty, nature of rulers, humans with no sympathy, and so on.

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 45 of 49

The society depicted is one of primitive people where the king as its leader does not respect the humanity. He gives judgments without going into deliberations. Guards follow the king’s orders blindly. The hunter was not intelligent enough to realize he should not take risks with such rulers. Kagwa is punished for deceiving the king, but the reader knows he wasn’t deceiving. The reader knows Kagwa had done nothing wrong to be punished. The hunter was killing lions finally he himself was killed the same way. No one in this story is innocent or show sympathy to others. Thus the poem creates a society of all are primitive in thinking. The story transcends reality too, and takes the reader to supernatural levels with a skull that talks as the central image and a person who talks after his death. Why that skull talks and tells people ‘Talking brought me here’ remains a mystery even at the end, therefore the reader has to guess that skull too belonged to a person like Kagwa, who did not know when to talk and when not to talk, so that he too could have been killed by one like that same king. The poem also connotes the state of uncertainty in human life. Kagwa was killing lions using a spear, but he himself was killed the same way through sword and spear, showing a cyclic nature of violence; cyclic nature of killing one another. _____________________

R.Subasinghe 2 5 July 2017

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 46 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

20. Two’s Company

Raymond Wilson 1925-1995

Dr. Raymond Wilson is a professor and an author who has published over 50 essays and he has also written articles, encyclopedias, dictionaries, book reviews and made many presentations at scholarly conferences. His poem Two’s Company is constructed on strictly controlled rhyming couplets, all lines of which are equal in lengths. It portrays the thinking and behavior of a person who boasts of knowing well what no one can really be sure of. Some believe in ghosts while others do not. Problem emphasized in this poem is being sure of one’s view because no one can really be sure when dealing with such questions. The character in this poem is sure there are no ghosts, and to prove so he decides to stay a night alone in a haunted house. The poet shows psychologically, a person who boasts like that could really believe in ghosts subconsciously. It is in his conscious lingual thinking he does not accept ghosts, however his body language could shows he has some belief in them. (see note 1 below.) The poem differentiates between what one says and what one shows through physical expressions. (see note 2 below.) Despite for sincerity in his view of no existence of ghosts, he really believes in ghosts as shown through his subconscious thinking process displayed as his body language. Sometimes the conscious mind and the subconscious work on two opposite ways at the same time, which could cause mental disturbances at times. At such times when certain things are expressed consciously by words, the sub conscious displays the opposite of it through body language. The poet begins depicting this dual behavior by creating a visual scene of the background of the haunted house as, ‘With a hunchback moon and screech owl calling’. A picture of gloominess and mysteriousness is created in this visual scene although the person had ignored to feel so at the beginning. The first unusual thing he experienced that night is he hears chains rattle and ‘someone screaming’, which are purported to be caused by ghosts. It may also be thought of as it is his subconscious that creates them. He thinks of it simply as ‘nerves’, however he ‘draws the curtain’ suggesting his subconscious involvement is opposite to what he thinks. The second instance is he hears the time twelve striking at midnight but there is no clock. There too he tries to think of it in his conscious thinking as no one is there as, ‘Of course, he knows that no one’s there’; however his sub conscious makes him shut the door and lock it. Now a little confused he comforts himself in lingual thinking as ‘…no harm is done by taking care’ These convictions of him makes the reader to feel to laugh at him, because what he thinks and what he does are different showing his confusion. Then he feels someone is there

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Page 47 of 49

Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

outside, but considers that person ought to be a ‘silly joker’. The noise is heard again so he checks whether the doors and shutters of windows are properly closed. The reader feels that, if he really knew there were no ghosts then a need cannot be there to check whether the doors are closed properly. Now he has become unsure of himself and looks for a place to hide and finds a cupboard as suitable to hide. That shows now he believes in ghosts. To create horror for him and the reader a ghost is in the same cupboard, it ‘… breathes softly’, and asks him, ‘How do you do’/ I am a ghost, Pray, who are you?’ The type of thinking of the person appears as in the technique of ‘stream of consciousness’. (See notes 3 below) Humor comes from the contrast between what ‘he’ said at the beginning and what he said and did later, showing he couldn’t prove his position. ‘Come, come, it’s merely nerves, he’s certain

(But just the same he draws the curtain.)’ To seek the safest place to hide(The cupboard’s strong – he creeps inside.) The ghost speaks politely in his ear, introducing itself. The ghost’s polite tone evokes humor: ….How do you do? I am a ghost. Pray who are you? The poet creates a frightening atmosphere that increases tension and the fear in the mind. The use of the rhyming couplets give a smooth flow of narration. It is also helpful in the comic quality of the poem. This poem makes us remember another poem related to a haunted house called ‘Colonel Fazerkerly’ where a Colonel buys an old castle with a ghost in it but he did not fear the ghost when it came at night. He simply makes fun of the ghost so that it leave because it couldn’t frighten the colonel. The poem satirizes people who are sure that there are no such things as ghosts. The humor comes from the contrast between what ‘he’ says and how he behaves. ______________________

R.Subasinghe, 2 July 2017

Notes: 1. Lingual thinking: thinking in a language 2. Body language : physical expressions through body other than the use of language 3. Stream of consciousness technique: a writing technique according to which thinking is presented in writing the same way they occur in mind,

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 48 of 49

Poetic techniques and some required vocabulary : 1. 2. 3. 4.

abstract: non-sensual sensual thought forms, ideas. concepts not related to senses. alliteration : repetition of the same consonant sound in a line of a poem assonance : repetition of the same vowel sounds in a line of a poem auditory images: such images in mind created as sounds, related to the ear; visual images: such images in mind created as pictures, related to the eye. kinesthetic images = mental images seen as motion 5. ballad: The term ‘ballad’ is derived from the Latin word ‘ballare’, which means songs for dancing. Ballads are folk poems that can be sung. 6. concrete images: clear pictures related to senses/ clear as visual pictures, 7. connote: (connote and denote) – connote: implied meanings in addition to what is literally conveyed.. Denote: what is literally denoted to convey the meaning of a word. Ex. a dead tree denotes a tree that has no life. It connotes old age and death 8. denote: (connote and denote) – connote: implied meanings in addition to what is literally conveyed. Denote: what is literally denoted to convey the meaning of a word. Ex. a dead tree denotes a tree that has no life. It connotes old age and death 9. Industrial Revolution:: Industries and factories began in a large scale and at a rapid pace in the 19th century England, due to discoveries of many machines that made more production with less human effort. effort Because of this Industrial towns began to emerge with factories emitting lots of smoke. Many people lost their jobs when machines were used instead of people. 10. irony: when a person says something somethin its opposite too is indicated there. 11. kinesthetic images: images seen as motion visual images = pictures appearing as images coming from the eye. eye auditory images = such images created arriving through the ear. 12. metaphors and similes:: poetic technique that compare things with other others. [Metaphors = e.g. He is a lion, She is a star. Similes = e.g. He is like a lion, She is like a star.] star. 13. metonymy. using a smaller state of a person, state or thing to represent the whole of it. (examples : New Delhi informed today. –New Delhi there refers to the bigger state of it India. )

14. metre: length of a line in a poem is counted in syllables and stresses made on them . When a line with one stressed syllable follows one unstressed syllable 5 times in a line, it is a line of iambic pentameter (/- /- /- /- /-) 15. ode: Poem written to praise a person, a thing or a state 16. onomatopoeia = pronunciation sound of a word connote the meanings (e.g. ‘humming’, ‘crash’‘bang’ ) 17. oxymoron: a phrase that appears as having contradictory meanings though they denote some meanings poetically e.g.: ‘silent speech’ ‘horrifying love’ 18. pastoral – related to village scenes and life with farms farmers and domestic animals 19. plot: story in a summary in a drama, dr short story,, novel or film. 20. phoneme : a speech sound unit 21. refrain: Lines appearing more than once in a poem or a song to emphasize emp on a point adding beauty it e.g. ‘Do not weep/War is kind.’ in ‘War is Kind’

Notes on English Literature - GCE OL 2017 Sri Lanka - R.Subasinghe - 15 July 2017 Classes – Evident Institute, Nidhahas Maawaha, Gampola Sri Lanka

Page 49 of 49

- Stephen Crane ‘kiddies and grownups too—oo-oo/ If we haven’t enough to do—oo--oo ‘The Camel’s Hump’ - Rudyaard Kipling’s [refrains are used in singing as repeating of lines] 22. rhyme scheme: explains the arrangement of how ending lines in a poem rhyme. For example in a stanza of 5 lines, lines 1,3 rhyme in /n/ sound, lines 2 and 4 rhyme in /s/ sound and the fifth lines rhymes in /o/ sound, then by naming the first one as ‘a’ its rhyme scheme is arranged as ababc 23. rhyme: using same sounds in poetry as ‘rhyming in middle’ and ‘end rhyme’ e.g. Following two lines have end rhymes as /n/ sound: ‘ Once there lived an upside down Who was the talk of all the town’ In additions to end rhymes following two lines have rhyming within lines too. ‘The potter has drawn the living breath of me And given me a form which is the death of me’ 24. rhythm: Orderly variations as high or low pitches, with strong or weak stresses and such variations in speed conveying diverse feelings and emotions. 25. similes and metaphors: poetic technique that compare things with others. [Metaphors = e.g. He is a lion, She is a star. Similes = e.g. He is like a lion, She is like a star.] 26. sonnet: A poem in 14 lines in iambic pentameter, a poetic form that became famous in Shakespeare’s times 27. stress: There is word stress and sentence stress, Certain places in words and certain places in sentences are pronounced with more emphasis placing on them, in speech and especially in poetry 28. syllables: One speech sound unit by which lengths of lines and meter are determined in poetry. Generally, in a syllable, there is one or two or three together vowel sounds round which one or many consonants are there. (One syllable words: ‘she’ ‘among’ ‘spring’. Two syllable words: ‘hidden’ ‘differ’) 29. theme: main idea behind works of art like poems, short stories, novels, drama and films 30. visual images: such images in mind created as pictures, related to the eye. auditory images = such images in mind created as sounds, related to the ear; kinesthetic images = mental images seen as motion

View more...


Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.