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A Tragic Story

A Tragic Story


There lived a sage in days of yore,

And he a handsome pigtail wore;

But wondered much and sorrowed more,

Because it hung behind him.


He mused upon this curious case,

And swore he'd change the pigtail's place,

And have it hanging at his face,

Not dangling there behind him.


Says he, "The mystery I've found –

Says he, "The mystery I've found!

I'll turn me round," he turned him round;

But still it hung behind him.


Then round and round, and out and in,

All day the puzzled sage did spin;

In vain–it mattered not a pin –

The pigtail hung behind him.


And right and left and round about,

And up and down and in and out

He turned; but still the pigtail stout

Hung steadily behind him.


And though his efforts never slack,

And though he twist and twirl, and tack,

Alas! Still faithful to his back,

The pigtail hangs behind him.


- William Makepeace Thackeray


William Makepeace Thackeray was one of the great novelists of the English Victorian Age. His 'Vanity Fair' is one of the finest and best-known novels in English literature. Thackeray wrote in a colorful, lively style, with a simple vocabulary and clearly- structured sentences. These qualities, combined with his honest view of life, give him an important place in the history of realistic literature.


Glossary

sage - wise man

yore - long ago

pigtail - a plaited lock of hair worn singly at the back

mused - thought over

curious - eager to learn more

mystery - puzzle

stout - thick in structure


Answer the following.


1. What made the sage upset?

Ans: The sage was upset, as his pigtail hung behind him.


2. Why did the sage spin all day?

Ans: The sage span all day to change the Pigtail’s place.


3. What solution did he arrive at for the mystery that he found?

Ans: He thought that if turned him round, he can change the position of his pigtail.


4. Was he finally successful in changing his pigtail’s position? Support your answer with a line from the poem.

Ans: No, he was not successful finally in changing his pigtail’s position. ‘The Pigtail hangs behind him’.


5. Did something dreadful happen? How would you describe the events in the poem– comedy or tragedy?

Ans: No, nothing dreadful happened. The events in the poem are humorous.


Read the poem lines and answer the questions given below.


1. But wondered much and sorrowed more Because it hung behind him.


a) What was he wondering about?

Ans: He was wondering about the pigtail.


b) What does the word ‘it’ refer to here?

Ans: ‘It’ refers to the Pigtail here.


2. And though his efforts never slack

And though he twist, and twirl, and tack,

Alas! Still faithful to his back

The pigtail hangs behind him.


a) Pick out the rhyming words from the above lines and give the rhyme scheme for the same.

Ans: slack – tack – back. a a a b.


b) Did he quit his trying? How can you say?

Ans: No, he did not quit his trying. The lines ‘And though his efforts never slack. And though he twists and twirls and tacks” shows that he did not stop his trying.


3. ‘He mused upon this curious case’

What is the figure of speech used in this line?

Ans: Alliteration – curious case


4.Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning. It may also be a situation that ends up in quite a different way than what is generally anticipated. In simple words, it is a difference between appearance and reality.


Can this poem be called an ironic poem? Justify your answer.

Ans: Yes, this poem is an ironic poem because the word ‘sage’ is used in an ironic sense to refer to a person who is dull-witted.


Fill in the table with the appropriate poem lines. A few lines may be used more than one time.


Pick the line or lines that


suggest the sage lacked practical common sense

e.g. And swore he'd change the pigtail's place


make the poem humorous

Then round and round, and out and in,

Then round and round, and out and in,


show the clowning movements of the sage

Then round and round, and out and in,

And right and left and round about,

And up and down and in and out


that are actually funny but have a serious tone

And though his efforts never slack,

And though he twist and twirl, and tack, Alas!

Still faithful to his back,

The pigtail hangs behind him


The summary of the poem is given. But there are some words missing. Fill in the blanks with the help of the box given below.


faithfully, change, pigtail, round, sage, down, slack, out, hung, place, behind, vain, face

Once upon a time there lived a _______. He had a handsome _______. He was worried and pondered over his pigtail's _______. He wanted to _______ it's place. He wanted it hanging at his _______ He didn’t like it hanging there _______ him. So he turned right and left and  _______ about, up and  _______, and in and _______ but it still _______ behind him. However he tried, his efforts were in _______. But he didn’t _______ in his efforts. Nevertheless his pigtail hung _______ behind him.


Answer:

Once upon a time there lived a sage. He had a handsome pigtail. He was worried and pondered over his pigtail's place. He wanted to change it's place. He wanted it hanging at his face. He didn’t like it hanging there behindhim. So he turned right and left and round about, up and down, and in and out but it still hung behind him. However, he tried, his efforts were in vain. But he didn’t slackin his efforts. Nevertheless his pigtail faithfully behind him.

 

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