Asleep In The Valley – Descriptive and Analytical Questions with Answers – HS English Suggestions 2020

The poem Asleep In The Valley Class XII in West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE) English B syllabus is ‘Asleep In The Valley’ written by Arthur Rimbaud. Here are probable Descriptive & Analytical Questions and Answers for Higher Secondary 2020

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud ( 20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet born in Charleville, Ardennes. He influenced modern literature and arts and prefigured surrealism. He started writing poems at a very young age, while still in primary school and stopped completely before he turned twenty-one (21)years old.

Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
Writer: Asleep In The Valley

He was mostly creative in his teens (17–20). The critic Cecil Arthur Hackett wrote that his “genius, its flowering, explosion and sudden extinction, still astonishes”.
Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and for being a restless soul. He travelled extensively on three continents before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday.
The poem carries a sort of oblivion until one discovers the melancholy tune the words sing at the end. Written in the Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet form, ‘Asleep In The Valley’ is a genius work by the poet.

Asleep In The Valley Descriptive and Analytical Questions with Answers – HS English Suggestions for 2020

  1. Write the theme of the poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’.

Ans) Arthur Rimbaud has discussed the futility of war in his poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’. He himself being a soldier knew the devastation caused by war and has expressed the pity of war in his poetry. The poem depicts a soldier lying asleep in a sun-lit valley amongst flowers and ferns and humming insects. His one hand is upon his breast and he lies open-mouthed sleeping like an infant. Suddenly the picture changes when we see two red holes at the side of the soldier, which are markedly bullet holes. It’s evident that the soldier had died already being hit by the bullets. The beautiful natural landscape suddenly changes into a morbid state. All the warmth and beauty of nature cannot bring back the life of the young dead soldier whose life is destroyed even before it fully bloomed. The beautiful sun-soaked valley becomes a valley of death. With all these symbols and images the poet tries to show the futility of war, which is the theme of the poem.

2. ‘ A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed,’- Where was the soldier found lying and how? How does the poet describe the soldier’s face? Why, according to you, was he lying open-mouthed?

Ans) The soldier was found lying in a small sun-soaked valley under the open sky. The soldier was lying open-mouthed with his head amongst the ferns and his feet amongst the flowers.

One of his hands was upon his breast and he was sleeping peacefully. The soldier’s face looked pale in the bright light of the sun. But there was a gentle smile in his face like that of an infant.

The soldier was lying open-mouthed because he was already dead and nothing could disturb his eternal sleep.

3. ‘His smile…without guile.’- mention the figure of speech used here. What does the poet want to mean here?

Ans) The poet compares the smile of the young soldier with that of an infant. Here he effectively uses a simile to do so by comparing the smiles. The soldier lies in the sun-soaked valley with a smile on his face that is just like an infant’s, innocent, pure and without guile. The poet wants to establish the fact that the futility of war has untimely ripped the soldier’s life from a promising future if he could have been alive. The young soldier perhaps has not been aware of the hypocrisy of the world like an infant before he is mercilessly put to death by the bullets in the war. Nature acts like an affectionate mother in keeping the soldier warm as it does to all lives on the earth but selfish warmongers do not understand it and kill innocent young soldier’s mercilessly.

4. ‘ The humming insects don’t disturb his rest;’- Who rests and where? What put him to rest? Why can’t the insects disturb his rest?

Ans) The young soldier is resting in a sun-soaked green valley.

He is put to eternal rest by two bullets of the enemy in the war.

The insects cannot disturb the young soldier, as he is already dead. The constant humming of the insects cannot disturb his sleep now.

5. ‘In his side are two red holes.’- Who is the person referred to here? What do the ‘two red holes’ signify? What attitude of the poet towards war is reflected here?

Ans) The person referred to here is the dead soldier.

The ‘red holes’ signify bullet wounds. It signifies that the soldier has been shot to death in the war.

War is something futile and brutal. The poet being a soldier himself once knows the horror of war. He establishes the pity of war in his poem ‘asleep in the Valley’. War, in reality, slaughters the young youths and their dreams remain unfulfilled. This meaninglessness of war disturbs the poet immensely and he tries to make us aware of the pity of war through his poetry.

6. Give a description of the valley as found in Arthur Rimbaud’s poem’ Asleep in the Valley’.

Ans) The poet draws the picture of a beautiful landscape where a slow stream flows through a sunlit, small green valley. The glittering rays of the sun make everything bright and beautiful. The sun-soaked earth of the valley cast a soothing effect on the reader’s mind. The valley becomes the epitome of Nature who affectionately shelters and protects the sleeping soldier against the cold. The tranquil atmosphere helps the soldier rest in peace. However, the closing lines of the poem break down the tranquillity and bring out the harshness of reality and the horror of war. The bullet wound’s at the side of the soldier makes the valley a deathbed of innocent lives.

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