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Keeping quiet-Question and answers

Summary of the poem:

In this poem, the poet has emphasized the need to introspect and bring in the spirit of brotherhood among the people of the world. He wants people to stop talking and stop all movements symbolizing agitation and restlessness till he counts twelve, that is, a short period of time. These moments of silence would be strange and exotic because in our mundane life we are working towards selfish goals, regardless of the other’ requirements and emotions. Hence, this sudden silence would give us an opportunity to introspect. Since we would not speak for a while, barriers between communities would break and a sense of brotherhood would prevail. Man would get an opportunity to realize how he is destroying nature and how he is harming himself. Futile wars against men and nature would be arrested and a new feeling of unity would be experienced. The poet does not want his desire for inactivity to be misunderstood as a state of uselessness. He wants men to learn a lesson from the Earth. The Earth appears to be inactive yet it is selflessly productive. Men too could be productive and progressive without any aggression, selfishness and the urge for destruction.

1Q.why does the poet advocate silence ?

Ans -The poet advocates silence so that we can get time for introspection. There is a mad rush in the world today. Confusion, tension and stress prevail everywhere. Relaxation is lacking in the world. The poet says us to keep quiet and introspect ourselves so that we can be freed from worldly maladies.

2Q. What is significant about “twelve” in the poem?

Ans.There are twenty-four hours in a day in all, with twelve hours for a half a day. The hours are numbered from one to twelve for both the ante meridiem (a.m.) half of the day and the post meridiem (p.m.) half of the day. 12:00 after a.m. and before p.m. (in the middle of the day) is midday or noon, and 12:00 after p.m. and before a.m. (in the middle of the night) is midnight. A new day is considered to start with the stroke of midnight. Furthermore, the basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, and 24 hours) can all perfectly divide by twelve.

In scripture we find twelve associated with rule. The sun which rules the day and the moon and stars which govern the night move through the twelve signs of the zodiac. The zodiac resides in the great circle of the heavens, which is itself 360 degrees (= 30 x 12).

The Heavenly City of Revelations has twelve gates with the names of the twelve tribes on them. Twelve angels stand at the gates; the walls have twelve foundations garnished with twelve precious stones, and in them the names of the twelve apostles. The city is twelve thousand furlongs square, and the twelve gates are twelve pearls. The number twelve is used here symbolically of God's perfect government.

The importance of 12 in Judaism and Christianity can be found in the Bible. The Twelfth chapter of the Bible starts with God calling Abram to come out of the land he was living in and go where God would tell him. This is the beginning of God’s plan to call out a nation unto him, that would be ruled by God and be a testimony to all the nations of the earth of the one true God. Here we can see the link between perfect government and the number twelve.

There are 12 days of Christmas.


Most calendar systems have twelve months in a year.


At twelve, the hands of a clock are one. It is Oneness that the poem calls for.


Count the letters in the title “Keeping Quiet”, there are twelve.


Or, the poet may have used 'twelve' for no reason.


3Q. what does the poet advocate to do to create feeling’s of mutual understanding and unity among human beings ?

Ans. Here the poet is encouraging a unified movement among people, with no discrimination based on race or language. This would be a mass movement for the first time on the face of the earth, and would greatly enhance unity. Let us stop for a moment and not move our hands so much in violence i.e. Let us not fight and argue so much.


4Q.who are those who prepare green wars’ here? What would they do when they introspect  for a few moments?

Ans. Those who prepare green wars’ are the people engaged in researching new methods

Of warfare like biological weapons eg, nerve gas. They aim at getting victory even if the entire humanity is wiped out. When they keep quiet they would realize a newness of life. They would put on new clothes and crave for meeting and harmonizing with their fellow brothers.


5Q. what does the poet actually mean by keeping quiet when he says that it should not be confused with total inactivity?

Ans. The poet cautions the reader that keeping quiet does not mean total inactivity or resignation to or negation of life. Actually he means that life as it happens should be lived with full involvement, both physically and spiritually. This is clear in his saying ‘ I want no truck with death’.


6Q.what importance does the poet give to The Earth, when he says that it can teach us an essential meaning of life?

Ans. The poet says that when everything seems dead on the surface of the earth, there pulsates and throbs life underneath. It means that the earth should be seen and realized in the right perspective. Keeping still for some time opens up its mysteries when we introspect ourselves vis-à-vis of the earth.

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