CBSE Class 12 English - Keeping Quiet
About the Poet: Pablo Neruda poems are full of easily understood images that enhance the beauty of the poem. He also won the Nobel Prize in the year 1971
The Theme of the poem:
- The poem talks about the necessity of quiet introspection and it creates a feeling of mutual understanding among human beings. Therefore Retrospection and Introspection are the two important themes of the poem.
IMPORTANCE OF THE TITLE:
The title of the poem “Keeping Quiet” means stopping all the activities that we are doing or keeping everything at rest not just physically but keeping our mind quiet too and questioning and understanding the purpose of the world that humans have created around themselves.
“Now we will … arms so much” (Stanza I)
The poet tries to create a very peaceful and calm atmosphere:
- He directly asks the readers that they should keep still and for the first time not to speak in any language meaning both verbally and non verbally and stop for a second and do no physical movement. By asking us not to move our arms he means to say that we should resist ourselves from doing any movement or activity and not harm others. No violence or no wars should be there.
“It would be an…..sudden strangeness” (Stanza II)
i. Exotic: Unfamiliar
- He says that this would be a very exotic movement where there will be no rush and because everything will be so calm and quiet we will find ourselves into sudden strangeness, a new experience. This new experience would include the absence of hustle and bustle of life which would create a feeling of peace and quietness making us united.
“Fisherman in the cold sea……..his hurt hands” (Stanza III)
He further goes on by giving examples of how this new experience would work:
- If the fisherman in the cold sea would stop fishing for a while they will not harm the whales for some time and they will get to live a little more. The word Fisherman symbolizes the people who exploit the earth’s natural resources for their own interests.
- The man who gathering salt if for a time pauses he would observe his hurt hands from the hard work he does,
- By giving the example of the fisherman or the man who is collecting salt the poet wishes to convey that the desires of men for more advancements have caused a lot of destruction rather than causing development and that has left men to not care about anyone except themselves.
“Those who prepare……doing nothing” (Stanza IV)
The word ‘Those’ here means people who are overambitious like politician etc who want to dominate others are responsible for starting aggressive wars.
- Similarly, people who are preparing for green wars with all sort of weapons like harmful gases or fire means that these weapons are nuclear and chemical weapons which are created by man that are used by countries to wage wars have pushed mankind to its tragic end. These wars are equally against the environment too because it harms it massively. By Green wars, Neruda means the wars that we rage against the environment that is deforestation.
- Victory with no survivors means that even though a country might win a war but it would still not be considered a win because by the time they celebrate this victory there will be no one left celebrate or had survived the war. Poet asks them to actually wear clean clothes, clean because they are stained with mud and blood while fighting. He also asks them to forget their enemies and walk with them just like brothers and do nothing.
“What I want ………… with death” (Stanza V )
- Neruda in the next few lines justifies himself that by what he is asking to do he does not mean us to be completely inactive rather he wants to interrupt the sad, cruel and baleful activities of the world for a few moments and to make the people introspect their own actions.
- Neruda states that when he talks of counting up to twelve, meditating and introspecting he does not mean for us to maintain a death-like silence. He just wants us to pause and think to help us introspect better and not standstill. In fact, life is an ongoing process.
“If we were not so……..ourselves with death” (Stanza VI)
- He goes on by saying that if we human beings were not so single-minded about keeping our lives always moving in the sense that concerning just about his own progress and development and for once just do nothing then this huge silence will help us consider the consequences of our progress.
- According to the poet would interrupt the sadness of never understanding ourselves that makes us threaten ourselves with death
“Perhaps the……. I will go” (Stanza VII)
- In these last five lines of the poem, the poet uses the image of the Earth to show how life exists in seemingly inactive things. Poet says that this self-examination in silence will help us to think logically and will bring us back with fresh spirit and new perspectives. With this note, he ends the poem again asking us to count twelve and keep quiet while he leaves us with these new impressions in our minds.