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A Thing of Beauty Class 12 English Poem Explanation, Summary, Question Answers

A Thing of Beauty Class 12 English CBSE NCERT Poem Summary, Explanation (Stanza by Stanza), Question Answers and New Words. A Thing of Beauty is a poem written by the famous romantic poet, John Keats. The poem tells about how nature and its wonder mesmerize us and take away all the sorrow that surrounds us from time to time. Also If we notice, Endymion is a poem by John Keats first published in 1818. It begins with the line "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever".

A Thing of Beauty Summary and Explanation of the Poem - See Video

 

 


About the poet

John Keats was born in London in the year 1795 and died in Rome in 1821 at the young age of 25 due to illness. He is a romantic poet and his poetry is characterized by sensual imagery in his most popular work which is a series of odes   (a lyrical poem which is meant for a particular subject). Today, his poems are one of the most sought after creations in English literature. The above given poetry is an excerpt from his poem, ‘Endymion : A poetic Romance’(1818), considered to be an epic poem.

Background of the poem "A Thing of Beauty"

Based on Greek mythology about a shepherd named Endymion, his quest for his love Diana and how in his quest, he falls in love with an Earthly maiden, who later turns out to be Diana herself.

 

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A Thing of Beauty Summary

The summary of the Poem "A Thing of Beauty" is given below.

‘A Thing of Beauty’ is a poem taken from the poem titled - “Endymion - a poetic romance” written by the famous poet John Keats. The poet says that a beautiful thing is a source of endless joy. It has eternal beauty which never fades away. A beautiful thing is like a shady shelter which gives us a sleep full of sweet dreams, good health and relaxation.

Our attachments to the Earthly things are like a flowery wreath. They are traps which bind us to the materialistic things and keeps us away from eternal happiness. The Earth is full of hatred, greed and negativity. According to the poet, the gloom and sadness caused by this negativity fades away with the positive vibes of the beautiful things that surround us.

The poet lists out some of the beautiful things that surround us. As the saying goes - “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. He says that the numerous creations of God like the Sun which gives us energy, the moon’s beauty, the trees which give us shade are the natural beauties around us. The various animals like the sheep that surround us make our world lively. The pretty flowers like daffodils make the world green and lively. The flowing streams of water cool and refresh us in the hot summer season. The forests which are full of the pretty musk rose flowers are a beautiful sight to the eye. All these are the things of beauty. Also, the stories of the brave soldiers who laid their lives to protect their people are beautiful and inspiring. These beautiful things are like a fountain of immortality bestowed upon us by God. They inspire us to live on and maintain our faith in goodness.

 

A Thing of Beauty Poem and Explanation


A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Its loveliness increases, it will never

Pass into nothingness; but will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

 

Bower: A shady place under the tree

 

The poet says that beauty stays forever. It never fades away. Rather, it increases with the passing time. The perception of the poet regarding beauty is that it never goes off with the passing time, rather it beautifies more and more. For the poet, beauty is like a beautiful shady tree under whose shade all the creatures can sleep peacefully and enjoy good health.


 

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Literary devices:

rhyme scheme: aabbc (forever, never, keep, sleep, breathing)

Alliteration: Use of consonant sound at the start of two words which are close in series (Sleep-Sweet)

Metaphor: bower Quiet (calmness of the bower is compared to the calming effect of a beautiful thing)

 

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

A flowery band to bind us to the earth,                         

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways

Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits.

 

Morrow: The following day

Wreathing: surround, encircle

Despondence: depressed

Gloomy: sad

 

The poet says that every day, it is the beauty which fills us with the spirit to live. It is the beauty which builds the desire in us to live though there are sad moments and cruel people around us. So here the poet wants to say that without beauty the earth will be full of cruel people, sad and gloomy moments. It is the beauty which is created by god which helps us to remove the sadness from our hearts.

 

Literary devices:

Anaphora: Use of same word in two consecutive lines (of noble natures…. Of all the unhealthy)

Alliteration: Use of consonant sound at the start of two words which are close in series (‘b’ in Band Bind, ‘n’ in Noble nature, ‘s’ in some shape).    

Metaphor: wreathing a flowery band (the beautiful things of our life bind us to the earth)       

Imagery: creating a sensory effect of beautiful things lined up in a string ( A flowery band to bind us)

inversion: normal order of words is reversed ( Are we wreathing a flowery band)

 

Such the sun, the moon,

Trees old, and young, sprouting a shady boon

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils

With the green world they live in; and clear rills

That for themselves a cooling covert make

‘Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake

 

Boon: blessing

Rills: a small stream

Brake: a process to slow down

 

Here the poet describes the beautiful things which are present on earth. These are the sun, moon, trees, flowers (daffodils) and the rivers. Poet says that all these things are like a blessing bestowed on all the creatures by earth. He further describes that the trees provide us with their shade, flowers with their beauty and rivers with their coolness during the hot summers. All of these are the beauties of nature which are like a boon for us.

 

Literary devices:

Alliteration: Use of consonant sound at the start of two words which are close in series (‘s’ in Sprouting Shady, Simple sheep, ‘c’ in cooling covert)

Imagery: Trees giving shade (sprouting shady boon), growing process of daffodils (daffodils with the green world they live in), Clean river streams (Clear rills)

Antithesis: opposite words placed together (old and young)

 

Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms;

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms                    

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read;

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink

 

Grandeur: high rank or socially important

Mighty: enormous

Immortal: never dying

Brink: edge

 

The poet further carries on with the description of the more beautiful things present on earth. such as the beautiful musk roses which have such a nice fragrance. Then he describes the tales of the mighty warriors who laid their lives for their countries or for humanity. He says that these beautiful things are the gifts from god for all of us. They are like a nectar given by god to us and these are those beauties which are immortal and give us a reason to live on this earth despite having so many sorrows in our life.

 

Literary devices:

Alliteration: Use of consonant sound at the start of two words which are close in series (‘h’ in have heard)

Metaphor: Immortal drinks ( beautiful objects of nature are forever like a neverending portion of a drink)

Rhyme: Rhyme scheme is used in every stanza of the poem (forever; never, keep; sleep, dead; read etc.)

Imagery: Bushes full of musk roses (sprinkling of fair musk rose blooms), books describing valor of fighters (grandeur…..mighty dead), god providing us with best things (pouring from the heaven’s brink)



New words

  • Bower- a pleasant shady place under trees or climbing plants.
  • Morrow – the following day
  • Wreathing – covering or to encircle.
  • Spite - desire to offend or annoy someone.
  • Despondence – disheartened, hopeless.
  • Noble – of superior quality, having high moral principles
  • Pall – a cloud, here, a dark cloud of gloom and sadness.
  • Spirits – the soul where lie our emotions and character.
  • Sprouting – to develop suddenly in large numbers.
  • Shady boon – a shade which is helpful to someone.
  • Rills – streams of running water.
  • Covert – not openly known or displayed.
  • Grandeur – so as to impress.
  • Dooms – last day of existence.
  • Immortal – living forever.                                   
  • Heaven’s brink – the door of God’s home.

List the things of beauty mentioned in the poem.

  • The Sun
  • The Moon
  • Shady trees
  • Beautiful daffodil flowers
  • Streams of water
  • Dense green bushes of forest ferns where fragrant musk roses grow
  • Tales of heroic men who sacrifice their lives

List the things that cause suffering and pain.

  • Desire to offend others
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of noble men
  • Bad health
  • Unhappiness
  • Gloom
  • Darkness

A Thing of Beauty Question Answers


What does the line, ‘Therefore are we wreathing a flowery band to bind us to earth’ suggest to you?

It means that we get attached to the beautiful things around us and weave a pretty band which binds us with our life, it becomes the reason for us to live.

What makes human beings love life in spite of troubles and sufferings?
The eternal beauty of various things gives us happiness and relaxation. It makes us love life inspite of life’s troubles and sufferings.

Why is ‘grandeur’ associated with the ‘mighty dead’?
The noble deeds of the brave men who sacrificed their lives are an inspiration for us forever. The beautiful legacy of their bravery is the grandeur which is associated with the mighty dead.

Do we experience things of beauty only for short moments or do they make a lasting impression on us?
According to the poet, a thing of beauty is a joy forever. Even if we see it for a few moments, it has a lasting impression on us and its beautiful memory stays with us forever. It inspires us to live, despite the ruthlessness of life.
What image does the poet use to describe the beautiful bounty of the earth?
The beautiful bounty of the earth is described by ‘endless fountain of immortal drink’ which signifies that God bestows us with all his beautiful creations which help us live despite the sad, gloomy aspects of life.

 

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