Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the poem “The Power of Music” by Sukumar Ray, which is part of ICSE Class 10 English (Treasure Chest: A Collection of ICSE Poems and Short Stories). However, the notes should only be treated as references, and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.
The poem describes how the singer Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s voice spreads far and wide during the summer, from Delhi to Burma. His singing is energetic and intense, as if he has staked his life on it. The people who hear his singing are left amazed and dazed.
Though they know his intentions are good, Bhisma Lochan’s powerful singing causes chaos and havoc wherever he goes.
Bullock carts overturn on the roads, horses line the roadsides, and animals are left confused and frightened by his booming voice. Even the fish dive to the bottom of lakes and the trees shake violently, trying to get away from his singing. The birds in the sky turn upside down in panic upon hearing him. Everyone pleads for him to stop singing before he kills them.
But Bhisma Lochan is unconcerned and continues bellowing out his songs, heedless of the pleas and cries around him. The heavens weep at his screeching voice and mighty mansions collapse under its force.
Finally, a clever billy goat comes along and charges at Bhisma Lochan, bellowing right back at him. This finally makes Bhisma Lochan stop singing, granting the world silence once again.
Line-by-line explanation of the poem
When summer comes, we hear the hums/Bhisma Lochan Sharma.
These opening lines introduce us to Bhisma Lochan Sharma, who is a singer with a very loud and powerful voice. In summer, his voice spreads all over and people can hear him humming and singing loudly.
You catch his strain on hill and plain from Delhi down to Burma/He sings as though he’s staked his life, he sings as though he’s hell-bent;
Bhisma Lochan’s voice carries very far – all the way from Delhi to Burma! This shows us how loud and strong his singing is. The next lines say that he sings with full energy and passion, as if his life depended on it. He is completely obsessed with and lost in his singing.
The people, dazed, retire amazed although they know it’s well-meant./They’re trampled in the panic rout or languish pale and sickly,
Now, though Bhisma Lochan means no harm, his intense singing confuses people and leaves them astonished. In fact, his booming voice causes chaos – people get trampled and injured in the panic and become unwell and pale.
And plead, ‘My friend, we’re near our end, oh stop your singing quickly!’/The bullock-carts are overturned, and horses line the roadside;
People now desperately plead with Bhisma Lochan to stop singing soon, before they meet their end. To show how disruptive his voice is, the poet says even bullock carts overturn on the roads and horses stand frightened along the sides.
But Bhisma Lochan, unconcerned, goes booming out his broadside./The wretched brutes resent the blare the hour they hear it sounded,
However, lost in his own world of song, Bhisma Lochan pays no attention to the chaos and continues bellowing loudly. The animals strongly dislike and resent his loud singing from the moment they hear it.
They whine and stare with feet in air or wonder quite confounded./The fishes dived below the lake in frantic search for silence,
The animals are left totally confused by his voice – they whine, stand puzzled with feet in the air, and wonder what is happening. Even the fish dive to the bottom of lakes trying to escape his loud singing.
The very trees collapse and shake – you hear the crash a mile hence -/And in the sky the feathered fly turn turtle while they’re winging,
Bhisma Lochan’s powerful voice makes trees collapse, violently shaking. You can hear them crashing from a mile away! It even makes the birds in the sky flip upside down in a panic.
Again we cry, ‘We’re going to die, oh won’t you stop your singing?/But Bhisma’s soared beyond our reach, howe’er we plead and grumble;
People once more desperately plead with Bhisma Lochan to stop as they are going to die. But he is lost in his own musical world, beyond anyone’s control, ignoring all pleas and complaints.
The welkin weeps to hear his screech, and mighty mansions tumble./But now there comes a billy goat, a most sagacious fellow,
His harsh, screeching singing makes even the sky weep, and mighty mansions collapse! But then a clever billy goat comes along.
He downs his horns and charges straight, with bellow answering bellow./The strains of song are tossed and whirled by blast of brutal violence,
The goat aggressively charges at Bhisma Lochan, bleating just as loudly. The goat’s loud bleats blast and toss around Bhisma’s singing strains violently.
And Bhisma Lochan grants the world the golden gift of silence.
Finally, Bhisma Lochan stops singing, giving the world the precious gift of silence once again.
hums: low, continuous sounds
strain: a particular style, sound or melody of music
Delhi: capital city of India
Burma: present-day Myanmar
staked his life: risked his life
hell-bent: determined to do something no matter what
dazed: stunned, confused
retire: withdraw, move away
well-meant: good intentioned
trampled: crushed underfoot
panic: sudden uncontrollable fear
rout: disorderly retreat
languish: lose strength and health
pale: lacking color or brightness
sickly: unhealthy, weak
plead: beg, appeal urgently
bullock-carts: carts pulled by bullocks/oxen
overturned: turned upside down
booming: loud, resounding
broadside: strong verbal attack
wretched: unhappy, troubled
resent: feel bitter/indignant about something
blare: loud, harsh noise
sounded: produced a noise
whine: make a long, high-pitched complaining cry
stare: look fixedly with eyes wide open
confounded: confused, perplexed
dived: plunged into water head first
frantic: desperate, wild with fear
silence: complete absence of noise
turn turtle: turn upside down
winging: flying with wings
welkin: sky, heavens
screech: unpleasantly loud, shrill noise
mansions: large houses
tumble: fall suddenly and helplessly
billy goat: male goat
sagacious: wise, discerning
downed: lowered, bent down
horns: hard pointed growths on a goat’s head
charges: rushes forward quickly to attack
straight: directly, without deviating
bellow: loud deep cry of an animal like ox, cow etc.
strains: melodies, refrains
tossed: thrown about violently
whirled: spun round rapidly
blast: explosive noise
brutal: savage, cruel
golden: extremely valuable and precious
About the author
Sukumar Ray (1887-1923) was a pioneering Bengali humorous poet, story writer and playwright who is often considered the father of Bengali nonsense verse.
Born in Kolkata into a family of writers and artists, Sukumar started writing humorous poems, short stories and plays from an early age, drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
His best known works include “Abol Tabol”, “Pagla Dashu” and “HaJaBaRaLa” which showcase his unique sense of humor, whimsy and imaginative wordplay. Sukumar masterfully used the rhythms and sounds of Bengali language to create new words and impossible situations that made people laugh.
Though he died young at age 36, Sukumar’s legacy and influence on Bengali literature has been immense. He is celebrated for taking Bengali poetry to a new dimension of absurd, nonsense verse that was unexplored before him.
With his wit, humor and linguistic exuberance, Sukumar Ray remains one of the most beloved icons of Bengali literature.
Additional/Extra questions and answers
1. Who is the poet trying to highlight in the opening line of the poem?
Answer: The poet is highlighting Bhisma Lochan Sharma in the opening line. Bhisma Lochan Sharma is being introduced as the main subject of the poem whose powerful singing will be described.
2. Where does the poet say Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing can be heard from?
Answer: The poet says Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing can be heard across a vast distance, all the way from Delhi to Burma. This tells us his voice is capable of travelling very far and wide, highlighting its strength and intensity.
3. What does the line “He sings as though he’s staked his life” tell us about Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing?
Answer: This line conveys that Bhisma Lochan sings with tremendous passion, dedication and abandon, as if his entire life depended solely on his singing. It underscores how intensely he immerses himself in his singing.
4. Why does the poet say Bhisma Lochan Sharma sings “as though he’s hell-bent”?
Answer: By using the phrase “hell-bent”, the poet wants to stress that Bhisma Lochan is absolutely focused, driven and fixated on singing loudly and powerfully, to the exclusion of everything else around him. He seems almost possessed by the act of unrestrained singing.
5. How does the singing affect the people who hear it?
Answer: His powerful singing leaves the people feeling dazed, stunned and overwhelmed. They feel amazed and astonished by the intensity of Bhisma Lochan’s voice. So his singing strongly disorients and confuses those who hear it.
6. Even though the people know Bhisma Lochan’s intentions are good, why does his singing bewilder them?
Answer: While the people realize Bhisma Lochan means no harm, his uncontrolled, booming singing in public creates chaos and disruption all around him. The unrestrained volume and force of his voice confuses and disorientates people, even though they know he has good intentions overall.
7. How does the panic caused by the singing affect the people?
Answer: In the panic triggered by Bhisma Lochan’s forceful singing, people get crushed and trampled underfoot in the commotion. Many are left injured, lying sickly, pale and lifeless due to the chaos and confusion caused by the loud, frenzied singing.
8. Why do the people plead with Bhisma Lochan Sharma to stop singing?
Answer: The people desperately plead and beg Bhisma Lochan to stop his loud singing quickly because it is wreaking havoc everywhere and harming them to the extent that they feel they will lose their lives if he continues singing in this uncontrolled manner.
9. What happens to the bullock-carts due to his loud voice?
Answer: His extraordinarily loud and powerful singing voice causes such intense vibrations that bullock carts passing on the road overturn and topple over, highlighting the sheer volume and impact of Bhisma Lochan’s singing.
10. How do the horses lining the roadside react to his singing?
Answer: Terrorized by Bhisma Lochan’s intense and thunderous singing voice, horses are seen standing frightened along the roadsides, wanting to flee far away from the overwhelming and disturbing sound.
11. Why does the poet say “Bhisma Lochan, unconcerned, goes booming out his broadside”?
Answer: This line emphasizes that Bhisma Lochan is so focused on and lost in his own singing that he is completely oblivious and insensitive to the havoc and disruption his unrestrained singing is causing around him. He continues bellowing loudly, unaware of the chaos.
12. What metaphor does the poet use for Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing?
Answer: The poet describes Bhisma Lochan’s singing as a “broadside” which is a metaphor implying it is like a severe verbal onslaught. This stresses how overwhelming and assaulting his loud singing feels to everyone forced to hear it.
13. How do the animals respond when they first hear Bhisma Lochan’s singing?
Answer: The animals are immediately distressed and pained when they first hear the jarring, earsplitting singing of Bhisma Lochan. They resent the abrasive quality of the unbearably loud singing right from the start.
14. What actions of the animals highlight their confusion at his loud voice?
Answer: The poet describes the animals whining in discomfort, standing in utter bewilderment with their feet in the air, and looking absolutely confounded and perplexed. Their disoriented actions and distress highlights the confounding effects of Bhisma Lochan’s maddeningly loud singing.
15. Where do the fish escape to avoid Bhisma Lochan’s loud singing?
Answer: To get away from the painfully loud cacophony of Bhisma Lochan’s singing voice, fish are seen diving frantically to the very bottom of lakes, desperately seeking refuge in the depths where his piercing voice doesn’t travel.
16. What happens to the trees when they hear his powerful voice?
Answer: When exposed to the full force of Bhisma Lochan’s thundering singing, trees come crashing down as they collapse and break apart. Even sturdy trees shake violently, unable to withstand the tremors from his ear-splitting voice.
17. How far can the sound of the crashing trees be heard?
Answer: This highlights the sheer volume of his singing – the trees are shaken so intensely that the sound of them cracking and crashing under the force can be heard from as far away as a mile.
18. How does Bhisma Lochan’s singing affect the birds flying in the sky?
Answer: His devastating singing completely disorients the birds flying peacefully in the sky – they frantically flip upside down and lose control of their flight upon being assaulted by the earth-shaking sound waves emanating from Bhisma Lochan below.
19. What does the repeated pleading of the people tell us about his singing?
Answer: The people repeatedly and desperately pleading with Bhisma Lochan to stop singing shows that they are utterly helpless against the onslaught of his deafening voice. Their continuous appeals highlight how his maddening singing is far beyond their control and tolerance levels.
20. Why does the poet say “the welkin weeps to hear his screech”?
Answer: This imaginative line suggests that even the heavens/sky seem to cry and mourn in distress upon hearing Bhisma Lochan’s earsplitting, screeching singing rending the air. The sky seems to weep in pain and lament the horrible sound he unleashes.
21. Whose arrival finally puts an end to Bhisma Lochan’s loud singing?
Answer: It is the sudden and dramatic arrival of a sturdy billy goat that finally ends Bhisma Lochan’s marathon singing session that had tortured all living beings.
22. How does the billy goat respond to Bhisma Lochan’s singing?
Answer: Undeterred by Bhisma Lochan’s deafening voice, the billy goat retaliates and fights back by charging aggressively at him, all the while matching his volume with bellows and bleats as loud as Bhisma Lochan’s singing.
23. What metaphor does the poet use to describe the billy goat’s bleating?
Answer: The poet describes the billy goat’s equally loud and forceful bleating as “bellow answering bellow”. This metaphor paints the vivid image of the goat matching Bhisma Lochan’s song bellow for bellow, scream for scream.
24. How does the billy goat’s bleating affect Bhisma Lochan’s strains of song?
Answer: The billy goat’s earsplitting and piercing bleats violently toss Bhisma Lochan’s melodious strains of song in the air, mangling and disrupting his singing with its brute force. It overpowers and shreds his music.
25. What “golden gift” does Bhisma Lochan finally grant the world?
Answer: When defeated by the billy goat, Bhisma Lochan finally stops his marathon session of torturous loud singing. This is described as his granting the world the “golden gift” of restoring peace and quietude, indicating how valuable and precious the silence is after his destruction.
26. What is the general theme of the poem?
Answer: The main theme of the poem is the chaos and disruption unleashed by loud, uncontrolled singing to highlight that music must be modulated responsibly, not bellowed out wildly.
27. What literary device does the poet rely heavily on in his descriptions?
Answer: The poet uses hyperbolic or exaggerated descriptions of the effects of Bhisma Lochan’s singing to create a comically outrageous impact on the people, animals, trees, buildings etc.
28. What kind of imagery has been used to describe Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing?
Answer: The poem uses very violent and discordant imagery to describe his singing. It is portrayed as destructive enough to shake trees, terrify animals, injure people and make buildings collapse, highlighting its sheer uncontrolled force.
29. How is the disruption caused by his singing shown through the animals’ reactions?
Answer: The animals seem frantic, desperate and helpless in trying to escape the chaos caused by his singing. Their pained confusion and unsuccessful attempts to find refuge underline the extreme disruption triggered by Bhisma Lochan’s unrestrained singing.
30. What message do you think the poet wants to convey through this humorous poem?
Answer: Using humour and exaggeration, the poet seems to advocate that music and singing must be done responsibly in moderation. Unrestrained loud singing can be disruptive and harmful even if well-intentioned. The poem conveys a message of using musical talents wisely.
1. Where does the poet say Bhisma Lochan Sharma’s singing spreads in summer?
A. Across villages B. From Lanka to China C. From Delhi to Burma D. Across all of India
Answer: C. From Delhi to Burma
2. Why does the poet say Bhisma Lochan Sharma sings as if “hell-bent”?
A. He wants to spread chaos B. He sings angrily C. He is obsessed with singing loudly D. He is forced to sing
Answer: C. He is obsessed with singing loudly
3. What happens to bullock-carts because of Bhisma Lochan’s loud singing?
A. They speed up B. They overturn on the road C. The bullocks run away D. The carts break down
Answer: B. They overturn on the road
4. How do the horses lined up by the roadside react to Bhisma Lochan’s singing?
A. They seem happy B. They gallop away C. They seem confused D. They seem frightened
Answer: D. They seem frightened
5. Why does the poet describe Bhisma Lochan’s singing as a “broadside”?
A. It spreads widely B. It attacks strongly C. It motivates people D. It sounds beautiful
Answer: B. It attacks strongly
6. What do the fish do on hearing Bhisma Lochan’s loud singing?
A. Leap out of water B. Gather at the surface C. Dive deep into the lake D. Swim to the shores
Answer: C. Dive deep into the lake
7. How far can the sound of the crashing trees be heard?
A. Across the forest B. From a mile away C. Across the country D. Only near the trees
Answer: B. From a mile away
8. How does the loud singing affect the birds flying in the sky?
A. They stop mid-air B. They fly higher C. They turn upside down D. They fly away
Answer: C. They turn upside down
9. Why do people plead for Bhisma Lochan to stop singing?
A. They don’t enjoy it B. It is too loud C. They feel it will kill them D. To test him
Answer: C. They feel it will kill them
10. What does the poet mean when he says “the welkin weeps”?
A. Clouds cry B. People lament C. The sky seems to cry D. Birds scream
Answer: C. The sky seems to cry
11. Who finally makes Bhisma Lochan stop singing?
A. A sage B. A billy goat C. The police D. His friends
Answer: B. A billy goat
12. How does the billy goat respond to Bhisma Lochan’s singing?
A. It sings louder B. It falls silent C. It bleats equally loudly D. It runs away
Answer: C. It bleats equally loudly
13. What does the poet compare the billy goat’s bleating to?
A. Sweet music B. Howling wind C. Answer to Bhisma’s song D. Clap of thunder
Answer: C. Answer to Bhisma’s song
14. What happens to Bhisma Lochan’s strains of song due to the goat’s bleating?
A. Get louder B. Become steady C. Get violently tossed D. Become melodious
Answer: C. Get violently tossed
15. What does Bhisma Lochan finally grant the world?
A. His last song B. Food for all C. The gift of silence D. His autograph
Answer: C. The gift of silence
16. What literary device does the poet rely heavily on?
A. Rhyme B. Repetition C. Hyperbole D. Alliteration
Answer: C. Hyperbole
17. The poem uses images of _______ to highlight the chaos caused by Bhisma Lochan’s singing.
A. Nature B. Water C. Violent destruction D. Joy
Answer: C. Violent destruction
18. How do the animals react to Bhisma Lochan’s loud singing?
A. They enjoy it B. They dance happily C. They seem distressed D. They sing along
Answer: C. They seem distressed
19. The core message of the poem is that _______.
A. Loud singing is good B. Music must be modulated C. Chaos is fun D. Singing relieves stress
Answer: B. Music must be modulated
20. The tone of the poem can best be described as _______.
A. Angry B. Sad C. Humorous D. Boring
Answer: C. Humorous
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