The Light of Other Days: AHSEC class 11 Alternative English notes

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Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of chapter 11 “The Light of Other Days” of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 11 (first year) Alternative English (Seasons) textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.

a lonely old man in a wheelchair, illustrating the poem The Light of Other Days

Summary: Thomas Moore’s “The Light of Other Days” is a touching poem that can bring out strong feelings in its audience. This poem takes place in a nostalgic atmosphere as the poet looks back on his life with the people who have meant the most to him and remembers the good times they shared. At the end of his life, the poet is overcome with grief over the loss of his loved ones. When he tries to go to sleep, he says, he is awoken by happy memories of the past, only to have them turn bitter as he recalls the loss and pain he has experienced. He has trouble falling asleep because his dreams are constantly interrupted by memories from his past.

In the opening lines of the poem, the narrator describes how frequently, in the still of the night, he lies down in bed and is overcome with both happy and sad memories of the past. Before he drifts off to sleep, he reminisces about the past and the times that are no longer with us. At first, the speaker is filled with fleeting happiness as he recalls happy times from his past, complete with laughter, tears, and boundless enthusiasm from his younger years. But the speaker’s overwhelming sense of loneliness soon turns those “fond memories” bitter. This is the point at which the poet realises that his youth, his friends, and the time and energy he spent sharing his love with those who have passed on are all in the past. And then, all at once, the “fond memories” turn tragic.

He sheds tears for the people he’s lost touch with or who are far away. After all the laughter and merriment, he feels as though he’s the only one left in a deserted banquet hall. The hall that was once bright with flowers and full of life has faded into a dull and colourless void. After the party has ended, the lights have been turned off, the garlands have withered, and the guests have left, leaving the speaker to wander the empty hall in a daze. As a result, the poem is saturated with melancholy and a sense of loss.

I. Answer these questions in one or few words.

1. At which stage of life is the poet at present?

Answer: The poet is currently in the final phase of life, that of old age.

2. To what does the poet compare his friends?

Answer: To illustrate his point, the poet likens his companions to falling leaves in the winter. He remarks on the passing of friends who were once inseparable, likening their deaths to the shedding of leaves in the wintertime.

3. Pick out one “fond” memory of the poet.

Answer: The poet looks back on his childhood with “fond” remembrance. The speaker finds temporary happiness in recalling happy times from his past, complete with tears of joy and laughter, and the vigour and vivacity of his younger years.

4. Pick out one “sad” memory of the poet.

Answer: The time when the poet realises that his childhood, his friends, and the time he spent sharing his love with those who have passed on are all over and gone.

5. What does the word “slumber” mean in the poem? 

Answer: Slumber in this context means sleep.

II. Answer these questions in a few words.

1. What does the poet remember before falling asleep? 

Answer: Before drifting off to sleep, the poet reflects on the past and long-gone times. At first, the speaker is overcome with happiness as he thinks back on his childhood and all the fun times he had there, including the tears and laughter that inevitably accompanied the merriment. However, the speaker’s overwhelming loneliness soon turns those happy memories bitter. The time when the poet realises that his youth, his friends, and the time he spent sharing words of love with those people are all behind him. Happy memories turn instantly bitter.

2. Why does the poet feel like “one who tread alone”?

Answer: While the poet grieves for his departed friends and distant loved ones. After all the laughter and merriment, he feels as though he is the only person left in a deserted banquet hall. The once grand hall, glowing with flowers and lights, is now a drab and lifeless shell of its former self. The party is over, the lights have been turned off, the garlands have withered, and the guests have left, leaving the speaker to wander the empty hall in a daze.

3. Why is the poet sad?

Answer: The poet’s “fond memories,” which bring him fleeting joy, turn bitter when they are replaced by an overwhelming sense of isolation. The time when the poet realises that his youth, his friends, and the time he spent sharing his love with those who have passed on are all behind him. All at once, the “happy memories” turn tragic. He sheds tears for the people he’s lost touch with or who are far away. After all the laughter and merriment, he feels as though he’s the only one left in a deserted banquet hall.

4. What is meant by the expression “ere slumber’s chain has bound me” in the poem?

Answer: When the poet tries to drift off to sleep, bittersweet memories of the past emerge, reminding him of the loss and pain he has endured. This is what is meant by the phrase “ere slumber’s chain has bound me.” The spectre of his past haunts his dreams, preventing him from falling into a restful slumber.

5. Why are the cheerful hearts now broken?

Answer: The once-cheerful hearts have become broken because of the loss of past joys.

III. Answer these questions briefly.

1. What does the poet mourn over in the second stanza of the poem?

Answer: Bitterness replaces the poet’s temporary happiness brought on by his “fond memories” as he is consumed by an overwhelming sense of isolation. This is the point at which the poet realises that his childhood, his friends, and the time and love he spent with the departed are all in the past. As a result, the once-happy recollections are now filled with sadness. Consequently, the poet expresses his sorrow for his departed companions and loved ones who are now so far away. After all the laughter and merriment, he imagines that the banquet hall is empty except for him.

2. Explain “I have seen around me for like leaves in wintry winter.”

Answer: The death of the poet’s friends is alluded to in the line “I have seen around me like leaves in wintry winter.” In this poem, the poet likens his friends to falling leaves during the winter. He says they were all so close, and now they’re all dying, and he likens it to the leaves falling from the trees in the fall. Even as he drifts off to sleep, the poet reflects on the past, remembering the good old days that are gone forever. At first, the speaker is overcome with happiness as he thinks back on his childhood and all the fun times he had there, including the tears and laughter that inevitably accompanied the merriment. However, the speaker’s overwhelming loneliness soon turns those happy memories bitter. The time when the poet realises that his youth, his friends, and the time he spent sharing his love with those who have passed on are all behind him.

3. Describe the banquet hall.

Answer: The banquet hall is deserted, the lights are out, and the garlands have withered after the event has been celebrated. Nobody is left in the empty banquet hall except for the poet, who sulks there with a heavy heart. The time when the poet realises that his youth, his friends, and the time he spent sharing his love with those who have passed on are all behind him. All at once, the “fond memories” turn tragic. His deceased friends and loved ones who are far away causing him great sorrow, and he expresses this by weeping. After all the laughter and merriment, he feels as though he’s the only one left in a deserted banquet hall. The once grand and vibrant hall has faded into an inconsequential and colourless void. After the party has ended, the lights have been turned off, the garlands have withered, and the guests have left, leaving the speaker to wander the empty hall in a daze.

IV. Answer these questions in detail.

1. How has the poet portrayed the theme of friendship in the poem?

Answer: In his poem “The Light of Other Days,” Thomas Moore depicts the theme of friendship by reflecting on the past and recalling “fond” memories of past friendships. He reflects on his boyhood and all that it entailed, both the good and the bad. By reflecting on the past and recalling pleasant associations with friends, the poet paints a vivid picture of the poem’s central theme. There are recollections from two time periods. Death is introduced to us here in the form of once bright eyes that have since faded and disappeared. The heart that was once so full of joy has been shattered. The second stanza recalls recent times spent with close friends. Here, death is depicted as a chum that drops like leaves in the fall. Once again, death is presented as threatening and personal.

2. In your own words, describe the emotions of the poet as reflected in the poem.

Answer: Feeling nostalgic, the poet recalls the good times he’s had with the people who have meant the most to him throughout his life. The poet, nearing the end of his life, is devastated by the loss of loved ones. He claims that whenever he tries to fall asleep, pleasant memories from his past wake him up, only to turn bitter as he remembers the loss and pain he has endured. He has a hard time drifting off because his dreams are constantly disrupted by thoughts from his past. He often thinks about the past and eras that have passed while lying in bed, just before he finally succumbs to sleep. Momentary joy washes over the poet as he remembers the times he laughed, cried, and was filled with boundless enthusiasm in his youth. Those “fond memories” quickly turn bitter because of the speaker’s overwhelming loneliness. The poet has come to terms with the fact that his youth, his friends, and the effort he put into showing his affection for the departed are now behind him. And then, suddenly, the “fond memories” become tragic. He weeps for those he has lost touch with or who are too far away from him. After all the merriment, he feels as though he’s the only one left in an empty dining hall. The once vibrant and colourful hall is now a lifeless grey shadow of its former self. The lights are out, the garlands are wilted, and everyone has left, leaving the speaker to aimlessly wander the empty hall.

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