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A Thing of Beauty I CBE & NCERT Questions I Board Exam 2024 |Class 12

Updated: Feb 17

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NCERT Official Discussion on the poem ' A Thing of Beauty by John Keats

Biography of the Poet (John Keats ( 1795-1821)
  • John Keats- Second Generation of Romantic Poet with Lord Byron and P. B. Shelley.

  • By the end of 19th century he became one of the most beloved of all English poets.

  • His poetry is characterized by the sensual imagery, esp in series of Odes.

  • His notable works are To Autumn, Ode to a Nightingale, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, Ode on a Grecian Urn.

  • 'A Thing of Beauty’ is based on a Greek legend, in which Endymion: A Poetic Romance’.




Theme

  • The poem highlights how various objects of nature are a perennial source of pleasure for human beings.

  • A beautiful object is always treasured in our mind because it provides us eternal and everlasting joy.

  • An object of beauty never fades into insignificance , but multiplies manifolds whenever it returns to our mind.

  • The poem focuses on the theme of happiness and how it can be experienced.



Line-wise Explanation of the Poem

(Lines 1-5)


A Thing of beauty is a joy forever

Its loveliness increases, it will never

Pass into nothingness; but will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.


Vocabulary:

Pass into nothingness: become insignificant

A bower quiet for us: shady place under the tree

quiet breathing : relaxed state of mind.


Paraphrase: The poet says that beauty stays forever. It never fades away and it increases with the passing time. The poet means to say that an object of beauty never goes off with the passing time, rather it multiplies with passage of time. According to the poet, beauty is like a beautiful tree under whose shade all the creatures can sleep peacefully, enjoy good health and relaxed breathing.


(Lines 6-7)

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

A flowery band to bind us to the earth,


Vocabulary:

Morrow:

The following day

Wreathing:

surround, encircle

flowery band:

here attachment.


Paraphrase: The poet says that with every passing day, it is the beauty which fills us with immense joy to live on this earth. With the object of beauty providing us sustenance of life, we are being attached to the earth like all the flowers remain attached to each other in a garland of flowers.




(Lines 8-11)

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways

Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,


Vocabulary:

despondence– depressed.

noble natures : virtuous people.

o’er-darkened ways: trials and tribulations.

Made for our searching: Gloomy days inhibit our search for those things of beauty.


Paraphrase: The poet means to say that a beautiful object has such magnetic charm that it tends to overpower everything. In spite of being depressed, in spite of having shortness of virtuous people, in spite of our sad days, trials and tribulations which tend to restrict us to find those things of beauty, we overcome all limitations and find joy in recollecting the moment of happiness in our lives.


(Lines 12-13)


Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits.


Vocabulary:

Pall: pain

Dark spirits: sad state of mind.


Paraphrase: The poet emphasizes on the fact that in spite of all shortcomings of life, all the hurdles of life, in spite of all, an object of beauty that is found in nature, takes away our pain from our depressed mind.




(Lines 14-19)


Such the sun, the moon,


Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon


For simple sheep; and such are daffodils


With the green world they live in; and clear rills


That for themselves a cooling covert make


‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake


Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms


Vocabulary:

a shady boon : a shady tree.

clear rills : clean small rivers

a cooling covert : a source of cool breeze.

mid forest brake: forest fern.


Paraphrase: The poet gives the examples of the sun, moon , trees , daffodils, and small rivers and forest fern- which are the things of beauty found in nature and they are responsible for creating beautiful memories for us during our bad phase of life. For example, tress both young and old provide shades to young sheep, daffodils by their green surroundings are a source of perennial joy for us, clear streams provide cool breeze and give relief from the hot season. The forest fern of musk roses is also a refreshing treat for the eyes.




Lines 20-24

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink


Vocabulary:

1.grandeur of the dooms : presence of joy even in sadness.

2.mighty dead: famous people who have died.

3.Immortal drink: perennial fountain of nectar.

4.Heaven’s brink: poured onto us from the Heaven ( i.e we experience heavenly bliss)


Paraphrase: While talking about the objects of nature that give us immense pleasure, the poet takes reference from our everyday life to justify that there is presence of joy even in the remembrance of famous people who are dead. They continue to inspire us with their contribution in the world even though they are no longer with us. The poet further says in this reference that all beautiful stories of great people that we have heard or read are a source of perennial ( endless) pleasure for us as these stories continue to inspire us and help us sustain the hard times of life. These stories are like endless flow of water from a fountain, which are showered upon us from the almighty God. We experience heavenly bliss when we take recourse to the life stories of great personalities. They are like endless fountain from which mankind can drink elixir of life.


Recapitulation:

  • The poem gives us the message that a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

  • In spite of the occasional bad patch in our lives, things of beauty are a source of perennial pleasure that helps us to sustain the trials of life.

  • Anything that gives us pleasure sustains us to face life during our adversary.

  • Any form of beauty that inspires us is like an endless fountain from which mankind can drink the elixir of life.

  • The poem conveys the message that anything beautiful remains engraved in our heart and helps us live life in spite of trials and tribulations.


Literary Devices


 A Thing of Beauty by John Keats
Literary Device

NCERT Solution ( Page 99/Flamingo)


1. List the things of beauty mentioned in the poem.


Ans: The things of beauty that are mentioned in the poem are the sun, the mooon , old and young sprouting trees, daffodils, clear rills, sheep, the mid forest brake, fair musk-rose blooms etc.


2. List the things that cause suffering and pain.


Ans: The things that cause suffering and pain include 'the inhuman dearth of noble natures', 'gloomy days', ' the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways' resulting out of undesirable habits.


3. What does the line, 'Therefore are we wreathing a flowery band to bind us to earth' suggest to you?


Ans: The poet says that with every passing day, it is the beauty which fills us with immense joy to live on this earth. With the object of beauty providing us sustenance of life, we are being attached to the earth like all the flowers remain attached to each other in a garland of flowers.


4. What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings?


Ans: The sun, the moon, old and young trees with their shades give us immense pleasure. The daffodils with the green world around is a treat for our eyes. Clear rills provide us a 'cooling covert' against hot season. The forest ferns with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms and the lives of the mighty dead leave us with everlasting memory to draw pleasure from and strengthen us to fight all odds of life.



5. Why is 'grandeur' associated with the 'mighty dead'?


Ans: The 'grandeur' is experienced in the contemplation of the 'mighty dead'. The poet talks about the fond remembrance of the famous persons who are dead. The recollection of such mighty dead inspires us to work hard. The contemplation of those people gives us same pleasure that we derive in experiencing beautiful things of nature.


6. Do we experience things of beauty only for short moments or do they make a lasting impression on us?


Ans: 'Things of beauty' make a lasting impression on us when they make an indelible mark in our mind and become a permanent source of pleasure for us. Thus they are 'an endless fountain of 'immortal drink'.


7. What image does the poet use to describe the beautiful bounty of the earth?


Ans: The poet draws an image of ' an endless fountain of immortal drink' that describes the beautiful bounty of the earth. This bounty might include the sun, the moon, old and young sprouting trees, daffodils, clear rills, blooming forest ferns etc.





CBE-Based Questions:


On the basis of the extract, pick the opinion that is NOT TRUE about the theme of the poem.

(a) A thing of beauty transcends time and doesn’t fade away.

(b) Beauty doesn’t dispel darkness and is surrounded by evil.

(c) A thing of beauty is not only physical but spiritual as well.

(d) A beautiful thing has a therapeutic quality and brings in a ray of hope.

[CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. (b) Beauty doesn’t dispel darkness and is surrounded by evil.


Explanation: Only option (b) is not true of the theme of beauty as expressed in John Keats’ poem ‘A Thing of Beauty’. Hence, option (b) is the correct answer. Options (a), (c) and (d) are all true about the theme so they are incorrect.


2. Pick the statement that contradicts the idea as expressed by the poet:


(a) People are beautiful not in looks but just in what they are.

(b) Beautiful people have known suffering, struggle and loss.

(c) We must think of all the beauty that is left around us and be happy.

(d) We must dwell on the beauty in life and be inspired by it.

[CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. (b) Beautiful people have known suffering, struggle and loss.

Explanation: It can be inferred that only option (b) contradicts the idea of beauty as expressed by John Keats in his poem. Hence option (b) is the correct answer. Options (a), (c) and (d) are incorrect since they support Keats’ idea of beauty.


3. Choose the quote that best describes the poet’s attitude to beauty:

(a) Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. —Ashley Smith

(b) The seeds of beauty are in humility. —Maxime Lagacé

(c) Beauty is how you feel inside and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical. —Sophia Loren

(d) Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. —Franz Kafka


Ans: (a) Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. —Ashley Smith


Explanation: All the quotes talk about beauty but only one talks about noticing it and living life. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer. Options (b), (c) and (d) do not come close to John Keats’ vision of beauty. So, they are not the correct answer.



4. Choose the ‘unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways’ from this list:


(1) indulge in excess of eating and sleeping

(2) discover a new business idea

(3) make deals with corrupt people

(4) help other people earn money

(a) (1) and (3)

(b) (1) and (4)

(c) (2) and (4)

(d) (3) and (4)


Ans. (a) (1) and (3)


Explanation: Keats’ ‘unhealthy and o’erdarkened ways’ could be inferred to apply to one’s own and others’ physical and financial health as well. This points to option (a) as the correct answer. Options (b), (c) and (d) are partially correct, and hence not the correct answer.


5. Choose the word that DOES NOT mean ‘despondence’:

(a) Unhappy

(b) Melancholy

(c) Misery

(d) Exuberance

Ans: Exuberance.


6. Which poetic device is used in this line: ‘of the gloomy days,/ Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways’?

(a) Internal rhyme

(b) Transferred epithet

(c) Oxymoron

(d) Inversion

Ans. (b) Transferred epithet

Explanation: The adjective ‘gloomy’ and ‘unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways’ describe the human but the epithet has been transferred to the objects like 'days & Ways' here. The poetic device used here is transferred epithet. Hence, option (b) is the correct answer.



7. What purpose do ‘sweet dreams, health and quiet breathing’ have in our lives?

(a) To help us understand the origin of beauty in life.

(b) To help us see the beauty of nature and human life.

(c) To help us tolerate the trials and tribulations of life.

(d) To help us appreciate the true beauty of human life.

Ans: (d) To help us appreciate the true beauty of human life.





Extract-Based Questions


1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

A thing of beauty is a joy forever:

Its loveliness increases, it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.


(A) Which poetic device is used in the first line: ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever’?

(a) Anaphora

(b) Transferred epithet

(c) Epigram

(d) Metaphor

Ans: (c) Epigram

Explanation: Epigram: A short witty statement in verse or prose which may be complementary, satiric or aphoristic. Ex: A thing of beauty is a joy forever


(B) Which of the following options describe ‘to pass into nothingness’ ?


(a) To slip away

(b) To survive

(c) To become alive

(d) To become extinct

Ans: (d) To become extinct

Explanation: ‘To pass into nothingness’ means to become extinct. Hence, option (d) is the correct answer.


(C) Which poetic device is used in ‘but still will keep/A bower quiet for us’?

(a) Anaphora

(b) Transferred epithet

(c) Epigram

(d) Metaphor

Ans: (d) Metaphor

Explanation: Metaphor: A figure of speech in which one thing is described in terms of another. A comparison is usually implicit, whereas in simile it is explicit.

For Example:

  • A bower quiet for us (the clam and quiet of the bower is equated with the clam offered by beauty)

  • … are we wreathing A flowery band to bind us to the earth, (beauty and beautiful things bind us to the earth)

(d) According to the poet, it can be inferred that beauty can help us ................

(a) lead a healthy and wholesome life.

(b) love each other and attain peace.

(c) understand the human condition.

(d) enjoy nature’s delightful bounty.

Ans: (a) lead a healthy and wholesome life.





2. And such too is the grandeur of the dooms

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.


(A) Which of the following does the ‘grandeur of the dooms’ refers to?

(a) The stories told to commemorate the dead.

(b) The forests grown to give shelter to people.

(c) The fountains built in honour of beauty.

(d) The monuments erected to honour the heroes.

Ans: (a) The stories told to commemorate the dead.


(B) Which poetic device is used in this line ‘We have imagined for the mighty dead’?

(a) Oxymoron

(b) Apostrophe

(c) Assonance

(d) Symbol

Ans: (a) Oxymoron

Explanation: The poetic device ‘oxymoron’ is used in the phrase ‘mighty dead’. It is a figure of speech which combines incongruous and apparently contradictory words and meanings for a special effect. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer.

(C) Whose tales has the poet heard of or read?

(a) The joy of beauty

(b) The eternal fountain

(c) The heroic dead

(d) Gods and goddesses

Ans: (c) The heroic dead

Explanation: The poet praises the heroic dead for their deeds and for inspiring the living through the tales of their bravery. Therefore, option (c) is the correct answer.


(D) Which of the following pours from the heavens according to the poet?

(a) nector

(b) Beauty

(c) Streams

(d) Grandeur

Ans: (a) nector





CBE Questions -Short Answer Type Questions:


1. Rationalize why Keats uses the metaphor ‘an endless fountain of immortal drink’ in his poem, A Thing of Beauty. [CBSE Term-2 SQP 2022]


Ans. Things of beauty are just like the immortal drink of the gods that flow continuously and never die Just as the endless fountain of immortality is an elixir of life, similarly things of beauty are constant/ perennial in providing everlasting joy/ motivation/ bliss.


2. How is a thing of beauty a joy forever? [CBSE 2015, 12]

Ans. The phrase ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’ means that a beautiful object-be it a natural or artificial is a source of joy for a person for a long time even if the original beauty fades or circumstances change.


3. What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings? [CBSE 2015, 12, 10]

Ans. It is beautiful things around us which make human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings. This sublimating effect of the bounty of nature keeps the spirit alive and full of love and life and keeps away the gloom caused by sufferings and troubles.




4. If you were given an opportunity to share your perception of beauty, what would you say? Explain. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. Beauty to me is simple and natural. Simple and natural beauty can be found in a kind heart, a sweet smile, a quiet moment and a generous attitude. In nature and in human beings, all the things which adhere to these two criteria can be considered as beautiful in my opinion.


5. ‘Beauty is best left undefined’. Support your position on this statement with your rationale, coupled with ideas in the poem. [CBSE Question Bank 2021]


Ans. I agree that beauty is best left undefined. In defining beauty, something is lost. For example, the beauty of nature cannot be captured in words no matter how wonderful the words are. Similary, beauty of life in love, empathy, forgiveness cannot be put in words. These are feelings & emotions which can only be treasured and experienced by human beings.




For the concept Video of this Poem, Click HERE

Additional CBE Questions ( Short Questions)


1. What does a thing of beauty do for us? Or How do beautiful things help us to live a happy life?

Ans : In the midst of despondency and disappointments in human life, beautiful things serve as a remedy, lifting the veil of gloom. They infuse life with joy, hope, and optimism, making it worth living despite tribulations and loss of faith.


2. What does Keats consider an endless fountain of immortal drink and why does he call its drink immortal?

Ans : Keats views the joy offered by nature as an everlasting fountain that uplifts human spirits. The beauty of nature is a perpetual source of pleasure and delight, akin to an immortal heavenly drink that brings eternal happiness to the human mind.

3. How is a thing of beauty a joy for ever?

Ans : According to John Keats, beauty is intransient. It never fades away, rather increases as time passes by. All the beautiful things have the ability to give everlasting pleasure and so are a joy forever.

4. What philosophy of life is highlighted in the poem?


Ans : Keats often celebrates the beauty and transformative power of nature in his works. In "A Thing of Beauty,". He emphasizes that nature is a wondrous creation of God, and its presence has a healing and rejuvenating effect on humans. Nature's influence is described as "embalming" and "refreshing," suggesting that it has the ability to soothe our troubles and invigorate our spirits.


According to Keats, nature provides more than just physical pleasure; it offers a heavenly and spiritual joy. Engaging with the natural world can elevate the human experience beyond the mundane and connect us to something larger and more profound. It's through this communion with nature that Keats finds a source of eternal joy and inspiration.


By portraying nature as a source of solace and spiritual fulfillment, Keats encourages readers to seek solace and joy in the natural world. For him, nature's beauty and transformative qualities are a testament to the wonder and divinity of the world around us.



5. What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings? Or

What makes human beings love life in spite of all the troubles they face?

Ans : It is beautiful things around us which make human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings. This sublimating effect of the bounty of nature keeps the spirit alive and full of love and life and keeps away the gloom caused by sufferings and troubles.

6. According to Keats, what spreads the pall of despondence over our dark spirits? How is it removed?

Ans : In the face of hardships, suffering, and disappointments caused by our unhealthy habits, despondency and gloom can take over. However, beautiful things in life provide a reason to persevere. They dispel the gloom, offer hope, and bring eternal joy, making life worthwhile and meaningful.



7. Who are the ‘mighty dead’ that are remembered for centuries?


Ans : In "A Thing of Beauty" by Keats, the 'mighty dead' refers to our ancestors and great heroes who accomplished glorious deeds in the past. Despite their physical passing, they remain larger than life due to their heroic actions, making them immortal in history. The poem emphasizes the enduring impact of beauty and greatness, which, like the legacy of these heroic figures, inspires and uplifts the human spirit through time.

8. In what context does Keats mention ‘immortal drink’? What is it?

Ans : In the poem "A Thing of Beauty" by Keats, 'immortal drink' symbolizes heavenly nectar that grants eternal life. Keats likens the pleasure derived from a thing of beauty to this divine nectar, which brings everlasting happiness to the soul. The beauty's influence is so powerful that it elevates the human experience and connects it with the eternal.




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