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Keeping Quit

Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. The poet uses the number twelve that probably represents the dial of a clock. For once on the face of the Earth lets not speak in any language, lets stop for one second, and not move our arms so much. Lets not speak in any language. Here the poet is encouraging a unified movement among people, with no discrimination based on race or language. This would be a mass movement for the first time on the face of the earth, and would greatly enhance unity. Let us stop for a moment and not move our hands so much in violence i.e. Let us not fight and argue so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines, we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. It would be an splendid moment with reduced industrial activity (engines). The silence or the peace would form the common link between all of us, bringing us all together. Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Fishermen represent proficient hunters of all kinds. The whales represent the oppressed class of human beings. It is therefore a cry for the oppressed. In this quiet moment of introspection, people would stop hurting others in an attempt to understand themselves. The whole of humankind is in a mad rush to finish off their existence and achieve whatever goals they set. People are so occupied with the daily rush of things and the flurry to accomplish their various goals that they never take the time to look into themselves and understand themselves. Mankind has been personified as the salt gatherer in the poem. In an exotic moment of peace, people would finally slow down and look into themselves in an act of introspection, identify their follies and rectify them, making them better human beings. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers

in the shade, doing nothing. Green wars can be thought of as wars wherein people utilize nature to hide (conceal) themselves among the foliage of forests or make use of the environment. Victory with no survivors is a paradox. People who win a war claim to possess victory; but is that so? Have they not lost tremendous lives in the process? How then can they claim to have had victory? All wars originate from the lack of self-understanding, and the understanding that all individuals are equal, which is why the poet stresses on introspection. There can be two interpretations drawn out from the last few lines of the paragraph. One interpretation expounds that the people responsible for wars such as politicians, scientists, trigger the war and later stay in the shade walking hand in hand with the rival as brothers, while thousands of lives are lost in the battle. Another explanation is that people are never happy to go to war. They realize the absurdity of victory from war. As a result of this reflection, People can be friendly as brothers, and walk about in the shade doing no violence. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. The poets words should not be confused with death or a state of complete dormancy. The poets message is about life and he does not want it to be related in any way to death. It is not a state of inactivity but rather of continued action at a slowed pace. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. As mentioned before, the basic concern of all human beings is being alive. Human beings are single-minded about survival. Human beings are in a mad rush to finish life and accomplish all their varied targets. If people could slow down for once and do nothing, the massive silence will intrude the despair of never appreciating or recognizing ourselves. When we look around, all we see is an extremely pathetic condition wherein people are only concerned or afraid of dying and never of understanding themselves. Death is a threat to many of us because it means that we will not be able to fulfill all the targets that we create. We will not be able to accomplish the task of survival in peace. Perhaps the Earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.

This paragraph is possibly empathetic toward human beings, persuading them to take a lesson from nature. During winter, the earth is blanketed with a coat of ice, and it appears as though there is no life in the environment. Even the air is frigid (frosty) and draughty. However, this is not the end and this does not last for long. The earth gets itself refined of all these trivial discrepancies, counting them all as a part of the rejuvenation process. Despite all natural disasters and calamities, the earth continues its journey. After a certain period of time, the cycle of reconstruction continues. The earth rejuvenates itself and moves on, alive once again. Now Ill count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go. Maintaining a third person viewpoint to the entire dilemma, the poet leaves us on a train of thought. Now that he has passed on the message, his work is done and he quietly leaves the scene.

KEEPING QUIET BY PABLO NERUDA


Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, better known as Pablo Neruda is an ace Chilean poet and writes in Spanish as well as English.Simple,yet vivid descriptions of his thoughts makes him a beautiful poet,who is understood by all. In the poem'Keeping Quiet' , Pablo Neruda emphasises on self -realisation and makes an appeal for peace among mankind. 'Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still'.. The poem open beautifully , with these lines creating an atmosphere of peace and silence, mentally preparing the reader to calmly listen to what Neruda wants to convey. The poem advances further , leaving a soothing effect, making an appeal to the reader to go into a pleasant oblivion and idleness. 'Let's not speak in any language...let's stop for one second..' Neruda is not particularly aiming at few people of a particular culture or nation,but appealing to whole of the mankind. He wishes for a complete inactivity, no moment,no actions,no words and not even the language of thoughts. He describes this inactivity and idleness as an 'exotic moment'..pulling us away from the rat race and tensions of this fast moving life. 'Fishermen in the cold sea,would not harm whales' ' Those who prepare green wars...would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers'.. How calm and soothing this world would turn into if everyone could realise what their actions lead to , by going in a 'sudden strangeness' of silence.

'What I want should not be confused with total inactivity' By this point of time,the readers might interpret the gist of poem as an appeal to go into a complete inactivity of death. Neruda cleverly clears the doubt ,to ensure his thoughts are well understood by everyone. 'perhaps , a huge silence might interrupt this sadness..of never understanding ourselves..' Millions of people everyday..wake up, to begin the rat race, running every moment,yet going nowhere. This lack of awareness and lack of motives is what is ' sad ' for Neruda. And this highlights the aim of Neruda for physical inactivity ,as this will give us some time to think and realise our motives. ' Now I'll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go..' The poem opens up by using 'we'..signifying the taking up of a task by the poet with the readers for introspection and self realisation and it ends with 'you', leaving a task for the readers to meditate and ponder upon thoughts , planted by him.

GIST OF THE POEM The poet talks about the need of silence and quiet introspection and the importance of quietude and calmness. He also talks about creating a feeling of mutual understanding among human beings. The poet asks us to keep still and count up to twelve. He also asks us to sit still. we should not speak any language. We should not move our arms so much. It will be a moment of complete silence without rush or worry. This would be an exotic moment. Then a sudden strangeness will prevail which we will all enjoy. It will be bliss. The fisherman would not harm the whales on the cold sea. Even the man gathering salt would stop working and look at his hurt hands and reflect at the pain and harm his strenuous task has caused him. All kinds of wars must be stopped at once. The green wars against the environment, wars with poisonous gases, firearms, must be stopped at once. People who are all the time preparing for wars leaving no survivors behind ought

to find time to wear clothes and walk around with their brothers strengthening the message of peace and brotherhood. At the same time the poet cautions not to confuse stillness with total inactivity. Life is an ongoing process and should not be associated with death. It is to be lived with positive attitude. He does not want us to ruminate over death. But he feels that if for once we do not focus ourselves singlemindedly to keep our lives moving but do some introspection or spend some time in silence doing nothing, we can understand ourselves better and escape from the threatening calls of death. The earth can teach us a lesson how everything comes to a dead end and comes to life again. In the same manner a quiet introspection can bring all evil thoughts to an end and bring in a new life of peace and tranquility. Now the poet will count up to twelve and they should keep quiet and he will go.

Analysis
This poem-KEEPING QUIET- by Pablo Neruda is about the necessity of quiet introspection and creating a feeling of mutual understanding among human beings. In our present day fast moving lifestyle, we are least concerned about our own inner self and instead of moving ahead, find faults in others. Today, we have reached a stage where we need to find the cause of sadness and the void that has filled the major part of our lives, marring even the happiest moments. Life today is all about wars and misunderstandings which is because of the least knowledge of our inner self which can be achieved only by quiet self introspection. The poet, Neruda, basically questions the way we move through our lives without pausing or caring for the world around us or the suffering of nature, the world, other people, and ourselves. He exhorts the reader to stay still and count till twelve, pause and look at the world around. He also asks us to think about what we see, how we can bring

about change in things that are wrong, stop fighting "green wars" and be friendly to each other and nature for a change.

Sample Answers: Short Questions Q.1. What is the sadness referred to in the poem? 2m Ans.1. The sadness Pablo Neruda refers to in his poem, Keeping Quiet, is that of never being able to understand ourselves through introspection. It also arises out of our mad rush to achieve everything quickly due to our constant fear of the brevity of our lives. Q.2. What is the significance of twelve in the context of this poem? 3m Ans. 2. Twelve months, twelve zodiac signs, twelve gates of heaven and even the twelve notches on the face of the clock dividing the day into two halves of twelve hours each. Although we do not realize it, the number twelve is associated with many things in our life. This poem is a plea for universal brotherhood and peace. At twelve, the hands of the clock, despite their differences, become one. Even the title of the poem, Keeping Quiet, has twelve letters. Hence, Neruda appeals to the readers to take these symbolic twelve seconds to begin the journey from strife, barriers and destruction to peace, unity and replenishment. HOME TASK: RTC QUESTIONS: Notebooks to be taken for final review of T1 on the day of examination (i) Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. This one time upon the earth, let's not speak any language, let's stop for one second, and not move our arms so much 1. Why does the poet want us to count to twelve? 1m 2. What does the poet ask us to do? 1m 3. What is the significance of twelve? 2m 4. Why does the poet want us not to use our language and our arms? 2m

(ii)

It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines, we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. 1. Which exotic moment does the poet refer to? 2. Why does the poet feel that the moment would be exotic? 3. What does the poet want us to do away with? 4. Justify the statement: We would all be together in a sudden strangeness 2m 1m 1m 2m

(ii)

Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm to the whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. 1. 2. 3. 4. What would the fisherman not do? What would the man gathering salt do? What transformation will these actions bring? How does nature respond to man's actions? 1m 1m 2m 2m

(iii)

Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. 1. 2. 3. 4. What are the different kinds of wars mentioned here? What is the poet's advice to the warmongers? Justify: 'Victory with no survivors' What do the clean clothes signify?

(iv)

What I want shouldn't be confused with final inactivity: Life is what it is about, I have no truck with death. 1. 2. What does the poet not want from the listener/reader? Explain: I have no truck with death 1m 2m

(v) Perhaps the Earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. 1. 2. 3. What lesson can we learn from Earth? The earth is the inactive hub of activity. Discuss. What does the word 'alive' imply in this context? 2m 2m 2m

Short answer questions: Q.1. How can man benefit from being still for a while? Q.2. Nature has its own ways of retaliation in response to human selfishness. Comment. Q.3. What do the warmongers do now? What would the poet have them do instead? Q.4. Why does the poet say that he wants no truck with death? Q.5. Which victory has no survivors? Which victory would make us 'alive' in every sense of the word? Q.6. What is the poet's message for the reader? Q.7. How will the silence usher a feeling of brotherhood? Q.8. Identify the poetic devices used in the poem. Q.9. Discuss the lesson one may learn from Earth. Q.10. The poem is deceptively simple and carries a poignant message? Short answer questions 1.What will counting upto twelve and keeping still help us achieve? 2.Do you think the poet advocates total inactivity and death? 3.What is the sadness that the poet refers to in the poem? 4.Central idea of the poem. 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) BOARD QUESTIONS Why does the poet count up to 12? What is the significance of 12? What are the Environmental issues mentioned in the poem? How is the idea of universal brotherhood brought out in the poem? Silence can be very eloquent sometimes. Mention when is silence preferred to language? The poem begins with Now we will count and ends with Now Ill count and you keep quiet. What does the shift in the pronoun signify?