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The Ball Poem | John Berryman | Class X | English

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Lesson Architecture

  1. Biography of the Poet

  2. Theme

  3. Poem Explanation

  4. NCERT Questions with Answers

  5. Extract Questions.

Biography of John Berryman

  • John Berryman -a scholar and professor as well as a poet.

  • Best-known for The Dream Songs (1969), an intensely personal sequence of 385 poems which brought him the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

  • Berryman graduated from Columbia in 1936, then went to study at Cambridge University for two years on a scholarship.

  • In 1955, after teaching stints at Harvard and Princeton, Berryman took a position at the University of Minnesota, where he remained until his death.

Theme

  • The poem highlights the hardcore reality of life that everyone has to go through someday or the other.

  • The poem also focusses on how to come to terms with our grief resulting out of any losses.

  • The poem stresses on the fact of assuming self-responsibility and being accountable for our own possessions.

POEM EXPLANATION


Recapitulation:

  • The poem highlights the sadness of a boy for losing a ball.

  • From the very loss of the ball, he will come to terms with the loss in due course of time.

  • The ball is a metaphor for everything that we own or possess.

  • The poem teaches us the inescapable truth of life that in life we shall certainly part with things/people including our near and dear ones.

  • But we need to learn to come to terms with every loss. Loss is inevitable (i.e.must) in human life.

  • But what makes us strong to stand up against any kind of loss is our positive attitude, which becomes a catalyst to bear the loss in life.


NCERT Solution:

Thinking About the Poem ( page 47)


Q1. Why dos the poet say, ' I would not intrude on him'? Why doesn't he offer him money to buy another ball?


Ans: The poet says so as he wanted the boy to come to terms with the loss of the ball. Once he realizes the value of losing something , he would assume responsibility and take care of the things he owns.


He does not offer him money as he wants the boy to realize what it means to lose something. Another ball would compensate for the lost ball. Therefore, he wants the boy to learn to live life and move on in spite of the loss.


2. "..... staring down/ All his young days into the harbour where/ His ball went....' Do you think the boy has had the ball for a long time? Is it linked to the memories of days when he played with it?


Ans Yes, the boy has had the ball for a long time. It is suggested by the mention of the phrase ' All his young days....'


Yes, it is linked to the memories as the poet says that the boy has spent all his youthful days into the harbour in the company of the ball.


3. What does ' in the world of possessions' mean?


Ans: The poet means to say that our world is primarily governed by human desire to possess more and more things. Human beings have innate tendency and greed to own things.


Q4. Do you think the boy has lost anything earlier? Pick out the words that suggest the answer.


Ans: No, the boy has not lost anything earlier. The expression that suggests the answer is

'He senses his first responsibility....'


Q5. What does the poet say the boy is learning from the loss of the ball? Try to explain this in your own words.


Ans: The poet says that the boy is learning the 'epistemology of loss'. He is learning what it means to lose something and how to stand up and accept it as a part of life.


Q6. Have you ever lost something you liked very much? Write a paragraph describing how you felt then and saying whether- and how-you got over your loss.


Note: As this is a subjective answer, write your own answer on the notebook and get it checked by your respective teachers.


Extra Extract Questions


1. Read the stanza given below and answer the questions that follow: Money is external. He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes, The epistemology of loss, how to stand up Knowing what every man must one day know And most know many days, how to stand up. (a) Who is He here? (b) What is the boy learning? (c) What does the word epistemology mean? (d) What does one learn in life? Ans : (a) A small child. (b) He is learning worldly things. (c) The study of the nature of knowledge itself. (d) One should learn how to stand up in life.

2. Read the stanza given below and answer the questions that follow: An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down All his young days into the harbour where His ball went. (a) Pick out the word from the stanza that means the same as final. (b) Why was he trembling, staring down? (c) Where has his ball gone? (d) What does the poet want the boy to learn? Ans : (a) ultimate (b) He has lost his ball. (c) Into the harbour (d) The poet wants the boy to learn to bear the loss and to stand up in life.

3. Read the stanza given below and answer the questions that follow: I would not intrude on him; A dime, another ball, is worthless. Now He senses first responsibility In a world of possessions. (a) Pick out the word from the stanza that means the same as encroach upon. (b) What does the poet mean by first responsibility? (c) What does I want to teach the boy? (d) Why does the poet not want to intrude on the boy? Ans : (a) intrude (b) To look after his things properly (c) To be able to bear the loss of things (d) The poet does not want to intrude on the boy because he wants him to learn his responsibility.



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