When Autumn Came: AHSEC Class 11 Alternative English notes

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Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of the poem “When Autumn Came” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz 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.

tree with yellow leaves when autumn came

Summary: The revolutionary poem When Autumn Came by the renowned Urdu lyric poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz fuses nature with the subjugation of the oppressed in a seamless pattern through the use of various metaphors. Poetically, the poet employs autumn and its effect on trees as a metaphor for the oppression of the lower classes during the era of colonial dominance. Autumn takes on the traits of an oppressor, while the trees that must endure its wrath stand in for the poor.

The first stanza focuses on the oppression the poor man is under and his helplessness in the face of it. The poet likens autumn’s stripping the trees bare as it robs them of their greenery to the aristocrats’ persistent demeaning of the working class. The yellow foliage stands for the working class, or underdogs, who were cruelly treated by the upper class. However, just as the leaves did not flinch as they were blown to the forest floor and trampled out of shape, so too had the poor people resigned themselves to their plight, unable to muster the strength to utter so much as a whimper of protest.

The poet continues in the second stanza by comparing the exile or stifling of revolutionaries and reformers of the human world, who usually brought a flicker of hope for the underdogs, to autumn’s expulsion of the birds from their perches on the tree tops and the now bare trees’ going silent without the bird songs resonating from their branches.

The poem concludes on a hopeful note, with the poet pleading with the God of May to have mercy on the trees and the buds and restore life to their dead bodies. The poet prays to whatever is above to renew the revolutionary’s hope. If only one of them spoke up, it would be enough to pave the way for the others to follow, and maybe even usher in a new era full of life, regeneration, and happiness. The poet longs for and imagines a future in which superficial barriers like social class have crumbled, paving the way for a society built on equality, hope, and shared prosperity.

I. Answer these questions in one or two words.

1. With what does the poet compare the yellow leaves? 

Answer: The poet likens the yellow leaves to a class of people who have become so accustomed to being exploited by the rich that they no longer raise a peep in protest.

2. Who remains undisturbed by the single moan of protest? 

Answer: The yellow leaves, which represent the poor class of people that have been stripped off from the trees and are accustomed to exploitation, remain undisturbed.

3. Who is exiled from their song in autumn? 

Answer: The birds are exiled from their song in the autumn.

4. With whom does the poet plead for mercy?

Answer: The poet pleads for mercy with the God of May.

5. What does the poet mean by the “gift of green”?

Answer: In the spring, the world seems to be reborn as flowers and new foliage emerge from the earth’s drab winter landscape. This rejuvenation, according to the poet, is the “gift of green”.

II. Answer these questions in a few words each. 

1. What happens to the leaves in autumn?

Answer: Leaves are raked off the trees and trampled on by passers-by in the autumn.

2. What do you understand by the expression “ebony bodies naked”?

Answer: This is a reference to the leafless and darkened tree bark left behind after the leaves have been stripped off.

3. What does the poet mean by “birds that herald dreams”? 

Answer: By “birds that herald dreams,” the poet means that birds’ song has the power to inspire listeners with feelings of optimism, creativity, fantasy, and hope.

4. How does autumn affect the birds’ lives?

Answer: The birds’ song has been ripped from them, and now they must live in exile.

5. Why does the poet invoke the God of May?

Answer: To revive the dying elements of nature, the poet prays to the God of May.

III. Answer these questions in detail.

1. How does the poet describe the helplessness of the trees in autumn?

Answer: The poet lamented the helplessness of the trees in autumn when their leaves were raked off and they were trampled by passing travellers without uttering a peep of protest.

2. How does the poet create the impression that autumn is a time of silence?

Answer: Through his description of the birds who were exiled “from their song, each voice torn out of its throat,” the poet conveyed the idea that autumn is a time of silence.

3. How does the poem represent the trees as human entities?

Answer: With lines like “ebony bodies naked,” “withered bodies,” and “dead veins flow with blood again,” the poet portrayed the trees as if they were human.

4. Do you think that despite the dismal mood of the poem, it expresses the poet’s hope for a positive change?

Answer: Yes, despite the dismal mood of the poem, it expresses the poet’s hope for a positive change.

5. Why does the poet associate the God of May with the ‘passion of resurrection’? Why does he say, “Let one bird sing”?

Answer: The renewal of nature’s greenery, growth, and a sense of newness and freshness led the poet to equate the God of May with the fervour of resurrection. Let one bird sing is a statement of hope and a call for the renewal of nature’s cycle of new life, growth, and vegetation.

IV. Answer these questions in your own words.

1. How does the poet depict autumn through a series of images of violence?

Answer: The poet painted a violent picture of autumn by describing how the trees had their leaves “stripped,” how they were “shook out,” how they were “trampled,” and how the birds had been “exiled” and had their “voice torn out of its throat” by hunters who “strung his brow.”

V. Describe the poet’s indistinctive treatment of nature as reflected in the poem.

1. How does the poem express the poet’s faith that autumn can only temporarily disturb life in the world of nature

Answer: The poem expresses the poet’s faith that autumn can only temporarily disturb life in the world of nature as the destruction it does to nature becomes insignificant with the arrival of spring, which brings with it newness and life that rejuvenates the dead elements of nature, and the greenery is restored.

Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions

1. The autumn season is characterised by a few things. What are they?

Answer: The poem uses the following words to describe the autumn season: obey bodies, naked, yellow leaves, leaves scattered over the ground, a single mean, bird exiled from their song; they dropped into the dust; these withered bodies; dead views.

2. Does the poet talk about all those characteristics? 

Answer: The poet discusses the effects of autumn on plants and attempts to draw parallels between the season and the capitalist class, and the trees and the working class. All of the autumn’s aforementioned features are symbolic of the plight of the working class and the working poor. Capitalists take advantage of them, just like the changing leaves do in the autumn.

3. What is the impact of autumn on the trees? 

Answer: When autumn arrives, the leaves fall from the trees and reveal their bare branches. During the autumn, the air is dry and dusty. As the weather warms, the leaves on the trees begin to turn yellow and eventually fall to the ground. There is almost nothing left of the trees. There aren’t any birds to be seen in the trees.

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17. How does the poet convey his ideas through the use of symbols?

Answer: The poet of “When Autumn Came” uses a number of allegories to rail against the exploitation of the working class by the wealthy. At the poem’s outset, the poet employs the symbol of “autumn” to convey the depth of the poor class’s oppression. The season of autumn represents a time of despair. When the wealthy take advantage of, torture, and make fun of the poor. For the poor, “trees” and “yellow leaves” are metaphors for the exploitation they endure. They can’t speak out against the torture because they themselves are victims. Their aspirations fall like “yellow leaves” in the wind.

“Birds” is a symbol employed by the poet to herald bright new days and innovative ideas. But during oppression, not even they can speak out against the ruling elite. Furthermore, the poet has used the colour green to represent the current need for life, renewal, and joy. Allowing just one bird to sing, or putting into action just one radical idea, can alter how we celebrate spring.

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