CBSE English poem – A Roadside Stand by Robert Frost — Explanation
A Roadside Stand by Robert Frost
About the poet …. [Will be given later]
The poem …
The lines 0—6
The little house was out with a little……..withering faint.
Meaning …. Someone from among the village folk had a shack beside a highway that ran to a city nearby. The man extended his shack to the front to open a make-shift counter to sell his farm items like berries or its squash. It was a small entrepreneurial venture to make some little money to meet his needs. Caravans passed along the highway, but few stopped to buy anything from him. In fact, no one evinced any interest in his items, even avoiding to cast a glance towards it. The money the city was awash with eluded the shack-owner. He vainly looked at the passers-by, with eyes seeking attention. His rudimentary counter didn’t merit any traveler’s attention.
The lines 6 – 15 ..
The polished traffic …………………….(this crossly) and go along
Meaning .. No doubt, the traveler’s belonged to the well-to-do class. The glitz and glamour they are used to was singularly lacking in the way-side counter. Seldom did they look at it. If ever they looked at it, it was more to express disgust at the poorly painted and poorly displayed North-South direction board. Clearly, they remained aloof. The farmer’s beseeching eyes couldn’t reach them.
The farmer offered wild berries kept in antique-looking jars, the freshly extracted juice kept in not-so-enticing jars. The city folks passing past the humble counter looked joyfully at the rocks and mountains that stood in the backdrop, but felt it below their status to stop over to buy such fresh produce from the owner’s farm. Their wealth had made them blind to such humble, but priceless offering coming straight from the fields.
Lines 16 —- 22
The hurt to the scenery ………………… said to be keeping from us
Meaning … The ramshackle sack stands as a blot against the beautiful backdrop of greenery and the distant mountains. For the bloated travelers, the shack is a spoiler of the landscape, a grotesque imposition. They avoid looking at the counter, unmindful of the fervent desire of the humble villager to get a tiny portion of their cash to ease the hardship of his living. The indifference of the wealthy city folks is clearly disgusting. The political power is clearly tilted in favour of the city-dwellers.
Lines 23 – 31
It is in the news that ……………………… night the ancient way
Meaning .. A new relocation plan for these poor villagers is in the air. In the pretence of giving them the comforts of urban life, these simple folks will be forcefully uprooted from their land and made to live inside the urban limits, beside the theatres, and malls. No one bothers to take their consent, nor to study how disoriented the village folks will feel in their new habitats. By sweat-talking the gullible rural folks, the land sharks will fleece them of their ancestral lands, and condemn them to live in the urban centers. Such trickery will never be called to account, and the villagers will painfully struggle to adjust to the new ways of earning a living. Undoubtedly, the change will bring them misery. Their simple life style will be destroyed, and in their new habitat, they will ‘lose sleep’, implying that life will become riddled with difficulties. On the other hand, the manipulators and the wolves in the garb of benefactors will enjoy their lives in more luxury.
Lines .. 32 – 43 ..
Sometimes I feel myself ……………………… to where it was bound …….. didn’t see?
Meaning ….. The poet feels distraught. He knows he is expecting something that this cruel world can’t deliver. This resignation makes him angry and sad. The humble farmer looks on expectantly at each and every passing cars hoping that they would stop and make some purchases. However, his wait remains futile. The passengers in the cars seldom bother to stop near the sack, because they can never bring themselves to see the longing in the eyes of the farmer for a sale that could get him some little money. At rare intervals, cars do stop, but it is either for asking some direction to the city, or taking a turn in his backyard, or for filling gas. The farmer’s heart breaks when such visits, which are few and far between, do not result in any tiny business for him. The attitude of the wealthy folks leaves the poet exasperated.
Last lines .. 44 ….. 52
No, in country money ………………. out of my pain
Meaning … The poet regrets that despite the enormous wealth of the country, and its vast sources of earning, social welfare, and concern for the downtrodden in rural areas have never been the national agenda. The conscience of the nation is muted and muffled towards the citizens who barely scratch a living off their lands. The compassionate poet dreams that he could, in one masterstroke, could banish the sorrow and suffering of the toiling, and deprived masses from the morass of poverty. But, when the magic spell would get over, hard realities would bite. It would make the sagely poet sad again. He wants his readers to offer a helping hand to overcome the shock.
Questions and answers..
Think it out ..
Q1. The city folks who …. The lines are, “At having the landscape marred with the artless paint
Of signs with the N turned wrong and S turned wrong”
The city folks find the shack a shabby insertion in the beautiful landscape of hills and greenery. They are angry that the old signboard hangs showing the N-S direction wrong.
Q2. What was the plea of the folk … The farmer who erected a ramshackle sales counter wanted to make a little money by selling his berries and the juice. The extra earning could ameliorate his difficulties in making both ends meet.
Q3. The government and social …. The words / phrases are ‘greedy do-gooders’, ‘beasts of prey’, ‘swarm over their lives’, ‘soothe them out of their wits’, ‘teaching them how to sleep’ etc.
Q4. What is the ‘childish longing’ … The poet imagines that he could banish the woes of the simple poor farmers and other such deprived classes in one go, but this is only a dream. It can never come to fruition in real life. This is why it is a ‘vain’ desire.
Q5. Which lines tell us about … The lines are..
Sometimes I feel myself I can hardly bear
The thought of so much childish longing in vain,
The sadness that lurks near the open window there,
That waits all day in almost open prayer
For the squeal of brakes, the sound of a stopping car,
Of all the thousand selfish cars that pass,
Just one to inquire what a farmer’s prices are.