Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of the poem “Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda of Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 12 English textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: ‘Keeping Quiet’ is a thought-provoking poem about the value of quiet reflection. The frantic activities of man, the rush and mad dash in materialistic pursuits, have caused a great deal of harm to this world. The poet wishes for a peaceful state of idleness free of wars and destructive activities. This introspective silence, he claims, will foster a sense of mutual understanding among humans, lifting them off the dreadful path that leads to self-destruction. The deep silence would foster a sense of community and make us realise how futile our current state of chaos is.
The poet begins the poem by urging all humans to count to twelve and then remain silent and motionless for a few moments. He wants people to refrain from speaking in any language and to limit all physical activities. For once, everyone on Earth should try to remain calm and silent.
It would be a significantly fascinating moment when everything would be quiet, without any noise or movement, without haste or hustle, and this profound silence would bring us together and closer together. There would be no instance of harm or injury in the current state of inactivity. The fisherman in the cold polar region would refrain from hunting whales, and the man at the salt pits would be able to rest his injured hands.
In a moment of silence, the poet urges war criminals to abandon their ruthless path and join hands with their brothers to live a life of peace and tranquillity. Warfare destroys and annihilates both the environment and the human race. Victory comes at a high cost in terms of human lives. People should learn to coexist in peace and enjoy a state of rest and relaxation rather than fight and spread hatred.
The poet tries to make it clear that when he says silence and quietude, he does not mean total inactivity or sluggishness, because that would imply the end of everything, and he does not want to be associated with death. We keep moving in the direction of elusive progress or gains because of our single-minded focus on selfish motives. But we have no idea that we are jeopardising our lives by not taking even a moment to pause and reflect.
By pausing for a moment and listening to our hearts, the poet hopes that we will gain a better understanding of ourselves and thus avoid the process of self-destruction. The Earth has a lot to teach us. It is always quiet and calm, but it is also always alive and productive. The Earth continues to create, produce, and bless us with its abundance even when there is silence and apparent stillness.
As a result, the poet instructs us to be quiet and at peace with ourselves, as well as to reflect on life for a change.
Textual questions and answers
1. What will counting up to twelve and keeping still help us achieve?
Answer: Counting up to twelve and remaining still will allow us to pause and reflect, giving us a break from our routine and allowing us to reflect on our lives and activities.
2. Do you think the poet advocates total inactivity and death?
Answer: The poet emphasises the value of remaining silent and still, but he does not advocate complete inactivity and death, as this would mean the end of everything. He wants us to pause and reflect, to live life rather than simply exist on Earth. He believes that silence will foster brotherhood and save the world from total destruction.
3. What is the ‘sadness’ that the poet refers to in the poem?
Answer: The ‘sadness’ mentioned here refers to the sense of gloom and depression caused by mindless human activities aimed at apparent progress. However, in this blind race, we are oblivious to the fact that we are inviting our own demise. Wars are fought with the goal of achieving victory while ignoring the consequences. Human behaviour threatens to destroy and kill the entire race.
4. What symbol from nature does the poet invoke to say that there can be life under apparent stillness?
Answer: The poet uses the symbol of the Earth to express the possibility of life even in apparent stillness. Even when all appears to be dead, the earth proves to be alive. It never stops nurturing or producing while remaining silent and calm. The poet wishes for a similar tranquil yet productive silence in our lives.
Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions
1. What kind of world does the poet want to live in, and why does he want us to remain silent?
Answer: The poet wishes for a world in which we can coexist without animosity or hatred. There would be no more wars and no more environmental destruction. Fishermen would not harm or hunt whales in the cold seas, and salt collectors would be given some relief for their bruised hands. There would be a totally calm and relaxed atmosphere that would allow people to gain insight into their lives and reflect on their purpose. He wants us to remain silent because only in silence can we pause to reflect and analyse. He is not referring to total inactivity or laziness, but rather to a few moments of peace, rest, and tranquillity.
2. What is the difference between keeping still and total inactivity?
Answer: Life is about living, not dying. The poet’s perception of stillness and quietude provides an opportunity for self-introspection away from the noise and chaos of modern life. One can work, nurture, and be productive without being destructive, selfish, or ruthless. So the poet cautions us not to confuse his call for silence and calm with total inactivity.
3. Which would be an exotic moment, according to the poet?
Answer: The fascinating silence would be the exotic moment when the constant hustle and bustle would cease, the noise of machines and engines would cease, and everyone would be in perfect harmony.
4. What are the various types of wars mentioned by the poet?
Answer: The poet discusses environmental wars, chemical wars that cause widespread devastation, and armed warfare that may result in victory but leaves no survivors. The poet calls for an end to these wars and urges everyone to help pave the way for universal brotherhood.
5. What does the poet propose as a replacement for war?
Answer: As an alternative to war, the poet suggests a spirit of brotherhood. Humans, as the most evolved creatures on the planet, should try to appreciate the peace and calm that nature provides us and, for a change, walk alongside other beings.
26. What would happen if there was no hurry and no engines?
Answer: We should refrain from our regular routines and put an end to the hectic labour when we stop talking and look inward. We will experience perfect calm as a result, and both our bodies and minds will feel revitalised.
27. What kind of impact would reflection have on the fishermen?
Answer: The fishermen would stop hurting the whales in the sea after giving it some thought, and they would only catch a certain amount of seafood for themselves.
28. How will the introspection impact the man collecting salt?
Answer: The salt collector’s hands are damaged, indicating that he has gathered enough salt. He would discover, after some reflection, that he should not be so greedy. He would aim to only harvest as much salt as he would require.
29. What can we learn from the Earth?
Answer: The Earth, through its processes, can teach us that a brief period of silence and inactivity can help us better understand who we are and give us the energy and strength to live our lives in a new way.
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