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For 2024 Board Exam
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The Laburnum Top | CBQs | Class XI

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


Lesson Architecture


  1. Theme

  2. Line-by-Line Explanation with Word Meanings

  3. Literary Devices

  4. NCERT Solution

THEME:

  • The poem presents a vivid description of the laburnum tree which comes alive as the mother bird gold finch arrives to feed its young ones.

  • Mother is like a pivot that feeds and supports the machinery of the family.

MAIN POINTS:


  • The poet has drawn a beautiful picture of an autumn afternoon.

  • The laburnum tree is silent and still. Its leaves have turned yellow and some seeds have fallen. The whole tree comes to life with the arrival of the gold finch.

  • The Poet has compared the alert, abrupt and sleek movement of the goldfinch with a lizard. After feeding her young ones the goldfinch flies away towards the infinite sky.

  • The laburnum tree becomes quiet and silent once again. The poet has compared the laburnum tree with a machine which starts up at the arrival of its engine(goldfinch).


(Lines 1-3)

The Laburnum top is silent, quite still

In the afternoon yellow September sunlight,

A few leaves yellowing, all ts seeds fallen.


Glossary

1. Quite still: Without any sound or movement.

2. Yellow September: Here refers to autumn season.

3. Seeds fallen: Tree is in process of shedding leaves and seeds during autumn season.


Key Points:

• The poem is set in the autumnal month of September afternoon.

• The top of the laburnum tree is silent and empty in the mellowing sunlight of an autumn afternoon.

• The yellowing leaves and fallen seeds indicate the autumn season.

(Lines 4-5)

Till the goldfinch comes, with a twitching chirrup

A suddenness, a startlement, at a branch end.

Glossary

1.Twitching chirrup: To chirp with the jerk of a body.

2.Suddenness:happening unexpectedly.

3. startlement: a sudden alarm.

Key Points:

• The goldfinch arrives suddenly and abruptly and sits on the branch of laburnum tree.

• It surprises and startles with its shrill notes and the quick vibration of its wings.

(Lines 6-7)

Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt,

She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up


Glossary

1. sleek as a lizard : smooth and elegant like a lizard.

2. Abrupt: sudden.

3. a machine starts up: Like the sound of a machine, the bird starts chirruping.

Key Points:

• The poet compares the movement of the goldfinch with that of a lizard.

• The bird enters the thickness of the branch in an abrupt and alert manner similar to the sleek movement of a lizard.


(Lines 8-9)

Of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings-

The whole tree trembles and thrills.


Glossary

1. chitterings : chirping of birds.

2. tremor : a vibratory motion.

3. trillings: short high sounds made by birds.

4. trembles: Shake.

5. thrills: excitement.


Key Points:

• The goldfinch arrives suddenly and abruptly at the laburnum tree and sits on its branch.

• It surprises and startles with its shrill notes and the quick vibration of its wings.

• The whole tree awakens to the thrill and excitement created by its sweet songs.


Line 10-12


It is the engine of her family.

She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch- end

Showing her barred face identity mask.


Glossary


  • It is the engine of her family : goldfinch is the engine of the bird’s family.

  • stokes it full : Here goldfinch is said to be stirring up the tree to a full extent.

  • Flirts out: the bird moves out jerkily to the end of the tree branch.

  • barred face : striped appearance.

  • identity mask: Her striped face masks her identity in the midst of leaves and branches to protect her and her family from predators.


Key Points

• The goldfinch is the engine of the bird’s family. She stirs up the tree to a full extent.

• Just like an engine sets the machine in motion, similarly the chirruping and trilling of the bird sets the laburnum alive and active.

• Her striped face masks her identity and protects her family from predators.


(Lines 13-15)


Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings

She launches away, towards the infinite

And the laburnum subsides to empty.


Glossary

  • eerie: mysterious.

  • whistle-chirrup whisperings: shrill and soft rustling sound of the bird.

  • launches away : flies away on her own.

  • barred face : striped appearance.

  • subsides to empty: the tree becomes very silent with the departure of the goldfinch bird.

Key Points:


• The bird after having excited the laburnum tree to action and thrill, flies away with a mysterious delicate whistle towards the infinite sky.

• The tree becomes very silent and empty with the departure of the goldfinch bird.

POETIC DEVICES:


SIMILE: Sleek as a lizard ( goldfinch has been compared with a lizard)


ALLITERATION:

  • September sunlight

  • And Alert and abrupt

  • Tree trembles (repetition of sound)

  • Whistle-chirrup whisperings

Metaphor:

  • A machine starts up (the tree has been referred to as machine).

  • is the engine of her family (the goldfinch is the engine here

  • Her barred face identity mask (the shadow on the bird's face is compared to an identity mask).

PERSONIFICATION: The whole tree trembles and thrills .


NCERT Solution


Think It Out ( Page 32)


1. What do you notice about the beginning and the ending of the poem?


The beginning and the ending of the poem is similar. In the beginning we can find the silent and quiet ambience of the tree without the presence of goldfinch.

The ending is the same as the bird flies away towards the infinity leave the tree in a complete state of silence once again.


2. To what is the bird’s movement compared? What is the basis for the comparison?


Ans: The bird’s movement is compared with a lizard.

The bird enters the thickness of the branch in an abrupt and alert manner similar to the sleek movement of a lizard.

3. Why is the image of the engine evoked by the poet?

The goldfinch is the engine of the bird’s family as it stirs it to life and fills the tree with movements and various sounds. Just like an engine sets the machine in motion, similarly the chirruping and trilling of the bird sets the laburnum alive and active.

4. What do you like most about the poem?

Ans: With the arrival of the goldfinch, the entire tree comes back to life. She is like the engine with whose arrival the tree is lively and cheerful by the chirruping and trilling of the bird.

5. What does the phrase’ her barred face identity mask’ mean?

Her striped face masks her identity in the midst of leaves and branches to protect her and her family from predators.


Competency Based Questions (CBQs)


Extract 1


Till the goldfinch comes,

with a twitching chirrup

A suddenness, a startlement, at a branch end.

Then sleek as a lizard, and alert, and abrupt,

She enters the thickness, and a machine starts up

Of chitterings, and a tremor of wings, and trillings —

The whole tree trembles and thrills.


Q1. What is the goldfinch's initial entrance described as?


A. Stealthy and cautious

B. Suddenness and startlement

C. Graceful and deliberate

D. Inconspicuous and slow


Q2. How is the goldfinch's movement characterized once it enters the thickness?


A. Sluggish and hesitant

B. Sleek, alert, and abrupt

C. Cautious and deliberate

D. Erratic and unpredictable


Q3. What effect does the goldfinch's presence have on the tree?


A. It makes the tree shiver.

B. It causes the tree to wither.

C. It induces stillness in the tree.

D. It makes the tree sway rhythmically.


Q4. What machine-like activity is triggered by the goldfinch's entrance?


A. A tremor of wings

B. A sudden startlement

C. A chittering machine

D. A branch end movement


Q5. How does the poet convey the impact of the goldfinch on the surroundings?


A. The tree stands still.

B. The tree trembles and thrills.

C. The tree remains unaffected.

D. The tree sheds its leaves.


Q6. Analyze the poet's use of vivid imagery to portray the goldfinch's entrance and its effect on the tree.


Ans: The poet uses vivid imagery to depict the goldfinch's entrance with words like "suddenness" and "startlement," creating a dynamic and surprising visual. The impact on the tree is conveyed through the imagery of trembling and thrilling, enhancing the overall sensory experience.


Q7. Explore the symbolic significance of the goldfinch's presence and the machine-like activity in the poem.


Ans: The goldfinch may symbolize nature's spontaneity and beauty. The machine-like activity could represent the orchestrated harmony of natural elements. Together, they might symbolize the intricate and synchronized dance of life in the natural world.


Q8. Discuss the overall atmosphere created by the poet through the description of the goldfinch's actions and their impact on the surroundings.


Ans: The poet creates an atmosphere of heightened awareness and energy as the goldfinch enters. The dynamic description of the tree trembling and thrilling contributes to a sense of liveliness and interconnectedness in nature, evoking a vibrant and harmonious setting.


Extract 2


It is the engine of her family.

She stokes it full, then flirts out to a branch-end

Showing her barred face identity mask

Then with eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings

She launches away, towards the infinite

And the laburnum subsides to empty.


Q1. What does the term "engine" metaphorically represent in the context of the poem?

A. A machine

B. A source of power

C. A mode of transportation

D. A musical instrument


Q2. How does the poet describe the laburnum's departure after being stoked full?


A. Subsides to fullness

B. Launches away

C. Trembles and thrills

D. Whistles-chirrups


Q3. What is suggested by the phrase "barred face identity mask" in describing the laburnum?


A. Open and transparent

B. Concealed and mysterious

C. Familiar and recognizable

D. Colorful and vibrant


Q4. How is the laburnum's departure characterized in terms of sound?


A. Eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings

B. Thunderous and chaotic

C. Silent and serene

D. Boisterous and loud


Q5. What does the laburnum's launch "towards the infinite" suggest about its destination?


A. To a specific point

B. To an unknown and vast expanse

C. To a familiar location

D. To a confined space


Q6. Discuss the metaphorical significance of describing the laburnum as the "engine of her family."


Ans: The metaphor implies that the laburnum plays a crucial role in the family, providing essential energy or vitality. It may symbolize a central element that sustains or drives the family's dynamics.


Q7. Analyze the poet's use of sensory imagery, particularly sound, in portraying the laburnum's departure.


Ans: The poet employs sensory imagery, such as "eerie delicate whistle-chirrup whisperings," to evoke a vivid auditory experience. This enhances the reader's engagement and contributes to the atmospheric depiction of the laburnum's departure.


Q8. Explore the symbolic meaning of the laburnum subsiding to empty and its potential thematic implications.


Ans: The laburnum subsiding to empty could symbolize a depletion or cessation of its energy or life force. This may reflect broader themes of transience, change, or the cyclical nature of life, prompting contemplation on the impermanence of natural phenomena.


 

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