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CLASS: 11th CLASS (1ST YEAR, FSC PART 1, HSSC-1, ICS)
SUBJECT: ENGLISH BOOK III (PTBB)
POEM NAME: “O’ Where Are You Going?”
POET NAME: “W.H. AUDEN”

THEME

There is a reader and a rider. The rider wants to cross the four walls of his house. The rider wants to see the outer world. Outside the house there are many challenges. Challenges make man stronger and wiser. The reader does not dare to do so. He warns the rider of the dangers outside the house. There is heat, discomfort and mysterious things there. In such conditions, the rider may find it hard to go on. The rider says that challenges scare the weak. Where there is a will there is a way. Saying so, the rider sets out.

 

STANZA NO. 1
O where are you going? said reader to rider,
That valley is fatal when furnaces burn,
Yonder's the midden whose odors will madden,
That gap is the grave where the tall return.

Reference:

These lines have been taken from the poem “O’ Where Are You Going?” written by W.H. Auden.

Context:
A reader tries to warn a traveller of the dangers of his adventure. But the rider leaves him talking and set out for his destination.

Explanation:

The poet reports a dialogue between a reader and a rider. The rider wants to reach his destination. But the reader tells him of the dangers when furnaces burn. There is a pile of dung which gives out pungent smell. This smell would madden him. On his way, there is a gap which is difficult to cross. It proves to be a grave for anybody who tries to cross it. Thus, the reader does all he can to stop the rider from that adventure.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: How is the gap a grave?

Ans: There is a gap on the way. No one can cross it safely. Even the tall fail to jump over it. Thus, the gap is a grave. It traps everybody who tries to cross it.

STANZA NO. 2
O do you imagine,said fearer to farer,
That dusk will delay on your path to the pass,
Your diligent looking discover the lacking,
Your footsteps feel from granite to grass?

Reference:

These lines have been taken from the poem “O’ Where Are You Going?” written by W.H. Auden.

Context:
A reader tries to warn a traveller of the dangers of his adventure. But the rider leaves him talking and set out for his destination.

Explanation:

The poet reports a dialogue between a coward and a traveler. The fearer warns the farer of the dangers of his journey. He tells him that night is about to fall. The darkness ahead will delay him. He will come to know that his ambition has failed. He will feel that his feet are stepping on stones rather than grass. The journey is going to be harder and harder.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: How will the dusk delay the traveler?

Ans: When the night falls, it will be all dark. The traveler will be unable to continue his journey. He will have to stop and this will delay him. It will be very ticklish task for him to reach his destination.

Q: Does the fearer find the traveler ambitious?

Ans: The fearer finds the traveler ambitious. Therefore, he warns him that his ambition will prove too weak to assist him in the challenges of his journey. He will be out of depths. But the traveler does not draw back.

Q: What does the fearer want to do?

Ans: The fearer wants to make the traveler give up his effort. He does not want him to put himself into troubles.

 

STANZA NO. 3
O what was that bird, said horror to hearer,
 Did you see that shape in the twisted trees?
 Behind you swiftly the figure comes softly,
The spot on your skin is a shocking disease?

Reference:

These lines have been taken from the poem “O’ Where Are You Going?” written by W.H. Auden.

Context:
A reader tries to warn a traveller of the dangers of his adventure. But the rider leaves him talking and set out for his destination.

Explanation:

In this stanza, the traveler is warned in a different way. The reader of the first stanza has now become horror. He talks of superstitions that will be a danger to the traveler’s life. He tells him that he will come across a mysterious bird. There will be a horrible shape hidden in the twisted branches of a tree. There will be a mysterious figure which will chase the traveler secretly but quickly. Finally, he points out a spot on his body which is the symptom of the dangerous disease. He advises him to evade all these risks by giving up the journey.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: What shape in the twisted tree does the poet paint?

Ans: The poet has painted a mysterious figure in the twisted tree. The tree is haunted. There are evil spirits that frighten a traveler.

Q: How can the spot on the traveller’s skin can be dangerous?

Ans: The spot on the skin of the traveler shows that a dangerous disease has attacked him. He will not remain vigorous or vital enough to continue his journey. No cure will be available on the way. Thus, the spot could be dangerous.

STANZA NO. 4
Out of this house‚ said rider to reader,
Yours never will" ‚ said farer to fearer,
They're looking for you ‚ said hearer to horror,
As he left them there, as he left them there.

Reference:

These lines have been taken from the poem “O’ Where Are You Going?” written by W.H. Auden.

Context:
A reader tries to warn a traveller of the dangers of his adventure. But the rider leaves him talking and set out for his destination.

Explanation:

The rider tells the reader that the latter will never set foot out of his house. He is coward and all dangers are for the coward. He tells the fearer that inside a house, fears are looking for him. But the travelers leave the warnings behind. He belongs to the brave and ambitious tribe who dare to break grounds and discover new avenues of life.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

Q: What are looking for the fearer?

Ans: There are certain fears which are looking for the fearer. They are looking for him because he will kowtow to them like all idles. The idle people do not dare set foot out of their house. They have no courage to face the challenges of life. They have no will to rise above their position.

Q: Why has the traveller left them there?

Ans: The rider feels an urge for exploring the world. He hears the call of the outer world and must respond to it. The traveller is ambitious. He cannot sit still and spoil. He believes that “Profit is the reward of the risk taking.” So he sets out and leaves them talking.

THANKS FOR READING!


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