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Sunday, November 22, 2015



Night - Synopsis and commentary

Synopsis of Night

In stanza one, the speaker looks at the setting sun and sees the evening star. Like the birds now quiet in their nest, s/he, too, must go to bed. S/he sees the moon as shining indulgently on the earth at sleep.
In stanza two, s/he says farewell to the daytime scene of green fields and groves where sheep have grazed. Now, where the lambs grazed angels tread, blessing everything that is growing and sleeping.
Stanzas three and four consider the angels' activities. They check nests; they check on all the animals, keeping them from harm and give sleep to any in distress, keeping watch by their bed. They weep when they find wolves and tigers howling for prey and try to drive away their hunger. If these beasts nevertheless catch their prey, the angels take the dead animals to a new life (heaven).
Stanzas five and six express the nature of this new life (‘new worlds'). It is a place of universal peace in which ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb'. The lion asserts that the gentle humility and wholesome purity of Christ (the unnamed ‘him who bore thy name' i.e. the Lamb of God) has driven out anger and sickness from this new place of endless day. The lion is now no longer the predator but the guard / shepherd. He can lie down beside the lamb and sleep, or think about Jesus' sufferings, full of tenderness towards the bleating, gentle lamb. Now the lion isimmortal (‘wash'd in life's river), he will be a glorious protector of the flock.
The poem draws on pastoral imagery, looking at harmony between nature and human beings. The contrasts of day, followed by night, followed by eternal day, stress only the positive aspects of each (which could be seen as demonstrating the inadequacy of innocence). Blake also employs a wealth of biblical allusion.


A positive vision?

In the light of Blake's ideas drawn from Jacob Boehme (see Religious / philosophical background > Philosophical influences on Blake > Blake and Jacob Boehme), this poem can be read as showing the inadequacy of innocence when it is the only vision available to the human being. The perspective of the poem's speaker allows little engagement with the experience of ‘woe':
  • The evocation of the passing day is idyllic, stressing greenness and peacefulness
  • All is growth – ‘green fields and happy groves'
  • Nothing is at risk – flocks ‘took delight', ‘lambs nibbled'
  • The picture of angels visiting, protecting and soothing troubled animals is seductive
  • It is the world of a lullaby.
Night actually neutralises the negatives associated with the image of night. After all, night-time is:
  • The time of human terrors and fears
  • When individuals are most vulnerable to attack
  • When most predators are at work – the only glancing reference to death is that the predators ‘rush dreadful'.
  • Frequently an image of death and oblivion.

A one sided picture

The reality of predation and death is present, and the angels cannot avert it. However, it is presented simply as a precursor to entering a more blissful existence, in which all antagonism is removed. The only values are those of meekness and tenderness. This vision of a world to come, or a world ‘beyond', offers comfort but might also signal an avoidance of the reality of devouring forces within human life (necessary contraries according to Blake). It also presents a vision of life devoid of energy and force:
  • The angels become static in the face of danger, tears the only protection they can offer
  • Lambs become merely ‘mild spirit[s]'
  • The lion lies down with the lamb as a tamed beast, grazing alongside the lamb. The distinctive qualities he brings to creation are channeled merely into guard duties in this ideal, pastoral world.


Read the poem below and answer the questions that follow.
The Fog
I saw the fog grow thick
   Which soon made blind my ken;
It made tall men of boys,
   And giants of tall men.

It clutched my throat, I coughed;
   Nothing was in my head
Except two heavy eyes
   Like balls of burning lead.

And when it grew so black
   That I could know no place
I lost all judgment then,
   Of distance or of space.

The street lamps, and the lights
   Upon the halted cars,
Could either be on earth
   Or be the heavenly stars.

A man passed by me close,
   I asked my way, he said,
"Come, follow me, my friend " -
   I followed where he led.

He rapped the stones in front,
   "Trust me," he said, " and come";
I followed like a child -
   a blind man led me home.
W. H. Davis

'It clutched my throat, I coughed' tells us that

the poet was suffocating because of the fog

the fog and the poet were fighting fiercely

the fog held the poet by the throat

the poet had a sore throat

The following statements are true except

the fog grew so thick that the poet could not get his directions right

a blind man who was also lost came to help the poet

the fog caused the poet to see things differently

the fog hut the poet's eyes

The word halted shows that the cars were probably





' ... the stones in front' in the last stanza refers to

the stones the blind man carried in a pouch in front of him

the stones that were lying by the side of the road

the road they were on

loose gravel

The blind man could lead the poet through the fog because he

was wearing a pair of sunglasses

had been to the poet's house

had a stick with him

knew his way

The last stanza of the poem tells us that

the blind man was boastful

the poet trusted the blind man

the poet could not return home

the fog had hurt the feelings of the poet

CBSE Papers, Questions, Answers, MCQ ...: Reading Comprehension (Unseen Poem)

CBSE Papers, Questions, Answers, MCQ ...: Reading Comprehension (Unseen Poem): Reading Comprehension (Unseen Poems) Q1( CTET ): Directions: Read the poem given below and answer the questions that follow by selecti...


Complete the following sentences using an appropriate phrasal verb.
1. How did these things ………………..?
a) came about
b) come about
c) come across
d) came across
2. I …………………… an old friend of mine yesterday.
a) came about
b) came to
c) came across
3. That question ………………………. before the committee yesterday.
a) came up
b) came across
c) came about
4. He was …………………. in the prime of his life.
a) cut down
b) cut off
c) cut out
5. His wife’s death ……………………. terribly.
a) cut him up
b) cut him down
c) cut him off
6. He seems to be …………………..
a) well off
b) well down
7. At last the truth ……………………
a) came out
b) came up
c) came across
8. His master ……………………… an explanation of his conduct.
a) called for
b) called on
c) called in
9. He found it rather difficult to ………………….. to his views.
a) bring her round
b) bring her up
c) bring her out
10. My grandmother cannot ………………… past events.
a) call out
b) call up
c) call on
1. How did these things come about?
2. I came across an old friend of mine yesterday.
3. That question came up before the committee yesterday.
4. He was cut off in the prime of his life. (cut off = die)
5. His wife’s death cut him up terribly. (cut someone up = afflict, distress)
6. He seems to be well off. (well off = rich)
7. At last the truth came out.
8. His master called for an explanation of his conduct. (call for = demand)
9. He found it rather difficult to bring her round to his views. (bring someone round = convince)
10. My grandmother cannot call up past events. (call up = recollect)