The Dare -A glimpse at the supernatural

He lay haunted by the shapes that lurked in the dark, calling him over to the other side. The shadows marched a cadence around him, cackling at his fear. He receded farther and farther in his closet embracing the skeletons that shared his fears, till he could take it no longer. He reached for the revolver in the silver box – the one handed down to him by his father who died in the war. Placing it at his temples, he held in a breath as he pulled the trigger.


Marian wiped a tear from her cheek as she stood over a dark coffin that was being lowered into the ground. She took a handful of the mud and spread it over the casket – her other hand tightly gripping tulips that she knew he loved. She dropped them and turned away – shoulders shuddering with sorrow. Someone placed an arm around her and led her away.


Marian had gone to the basement two weeks ago, but never came up again . The lawn was overgrown, the chipped paint began to fall and the mail collected in the abandoned mailbox. The familiar mailman, out of curiosity, walks up the door and gives it a good rap.
“Marian?? Anyone home??”
He lodges a missing persons complaint with the police.


Detective Arthur Mead looks at the weakened wooden door.
“Piece of cake” he grimaces at the constable by his side.
“On three…” he whispered. “1… 2…”
And with a mighty shove, he brought down the door.

Marian was rolled up in a fetal position, hidden in a dark corner behind a closet. Detective Arthur steps in and reaches out a reassuring hand toward her.
“Don’t…” a voice straggles out.
Constable Harris flashes a light at her face and is shocked to see the red capillaries pulsing across her eyes. She puts up a hand defensively and the Detective looks at the heavy closet.


Chalked tallies marked up to 14 lined the sides of the dark closet. Shining the light around the room, Harris notices the various scraggly drawings of some creature with glasses.

“Apparently, this thing – whatever it is – has been haunting her, and I’d say for 14 days judging by those tallies.” The detective stooped over broken pieces of chalk that lined the ground, as Constable Harris shone a light for him. A sudden movement catches Arthur’s attention and he flipped his head toward Marian.


Marian arched over them, revolver in hand. The Detective’s sharp eyes notice that it was the same Colt army revolver that was also used by the man who had shot himself two weeks ago. But this was no time for detections or associations. Marian had the revolver propped boldly against the Constable’s forehead.

“Don’t do it, Marian. You know you’re better than that,” said the Detective in a calm voice. Marian merely shook her head and looked down.

When she looked up again, she wore a smug grin. She looked directly into the Detective’s eyes and as quick as ever, pulled the trigger – over her own temple.


Blood and gore splashed across the pale cream wall. The forensics looked at the revolting sight with disgust.
“This isn’t a soap opera. Get to cleaning,” boomed the voice of the detective.
23 year old Adrien swallowed the wave of nausea that struck him. This was his first major assignment and the bloody gore triggered a nauseating wave of repulse that he never faced in five years of lab examinations. He looked away from the gory scene and his eyes picked out a thick book embedded in the junk that flowed around the closet.


“June 24 – Elliot seemed really disturbed at work today. I tried to talk to him but he just pushed me away. I wonder what’s on his mind? I should probably pay him a visit.

“June 26 – I stopped over at Elliot’s and I’m really worried for him. I heard a lot of crashing and banging. Should I go to the police?? But what if…? I don’t know. Maybe I should just give him some time.

“July 1- I can’t take it in. How could Elliot do this to himself??? If only I would have informed the cops that day! If only I could have been there for him. I’ll never forgive myself!

“July 3 – I was silly to be afraid. Elliot visits me everyday. He’s closer to me now than he has ever been. He taunts me constantly but he dotes over me. He doesn’t want me to leave the basement. I’m satisfied here. I’ll stay for as long as he wants me here.

“July 4 – Elliot asked me to light a candle and he would speak over it. I did, and he told me that his father’s spirit had been visiting him very often. His father had died in the war but his spirit wouldn’t rest after the violence and chaos he had seen. Elliot says that his father’s spirit violently roams his mansion seeking to avenge the young blood that soiled his country’s battlegrounds. Elliot’s speech was too abstract for me to understand but I do feel that spirit of violence around me, knocking around the books on the shelves.”

Adrien looked up from reading the diary. No one was in the room. The muffled conversation of the Inspector with the Detective sounded, from outside the basement door. Adrien was uneasy being alone with the corpse of the poor woman. A shiver ran down his spine and he took a step over the body towards the door when he stumbled over apparent nothingness and was tossed to the ground. His head struck the edge of the closet and he lay for a moment on the floor waiting for the delirium to pass. It felt like all the objects on the shelves swam over his head.

He blinked twice but the objects wouldn’t move away. He suddenly felt the cold steel of the silver revolver over his temple. He tried to speak but choked. He felt paralyzed. Unable to move his hands, he tried to turn his head from side to side. A powerful force locked his jaw, and he heard the rattling of the cans in the distance. Suddenly, the trigger pulled.


A Room of Her Own

“… and then she looked around at the faces around her. They were supposed to be family but she had never felt more alone. Their eyes judged her every move, heads shaking disdainfully at her. The voice that she thought was protecting her was only in her head. All she heard was…”

“Footsteps!” yelled Ide, alarmed.

I rushed to shut the journal I was writing in and the pen flew from my hand. It landed beside the door frame just as Father walked in.

“What are you doing? Are you writing?”

“No, I was just tinkering with something I read earlier, that’s it.”

“What do you need the pen for?” he said as he picked it up and walked out of the room.

“Now he’s going to be suspicious about what I have been doing! It’s not fair!”

I kept the journal under my pillow and pulled out a book with an ambiguous title. When I was sure I was alone with Ide, I put away the book and sat up straight. “You remember when we read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’? I loved every single thing that she wrote and the way she wrote it. But I never thought it could be applied today. We’re living in an urban society in the 21st century. Surely women are free to do whatever they wish, and they are given equal opportunities.”

Ide looked at me pathetically. “That’s just an impression created by media and you know it. It’s a cycle. People have their own ideologies but they look at media and they think that’s how they should behave but, that’s just a masquerade. Put them in a life-or-death situation, and they will reveal their true colors.”

“But giving me false hope and then pulling the rug from under my feet? I don’t think there’s anything crueler. They are always so guarded about what they say around me and then there’s all the apprehension about what I am doing all the time!”

“They’re just worried that your isolation may be driving you crazy. They think that you have all these unresolved thoughts that you share with no one and you may be going cuckoo.”

“Are you saying I’m crazy?” I got up and looked in the mirror.

“I’m just saying that you need to cover up your tracks better. You think that writing is your release, your vent. For all you know, they might have read something you wrote. And I’m not the first to tell you that you do follow the unconventional,” Ide walked out of the room.

I heard my name being called, and left the room frustrated.

I felt like I was in an interrogation room. Mother and Father sat across from me like a panel. Something was up. The air suddenly became thick and stifling.

“We’re concerned about you,” began Mother.

“Worried, in fact,” interrupted Father, but kept quiet after one stern glance from Mother.

“About what?!” I said, a tone more hostile than I intended.

“That right there. You seem to have something on your mind all the time, and you spend a lot of time in the room, when we’re out here. You never stay in the same room we are. And you’re always writing in that book! What do you even write about?”

“Does it matter? Just tell me what you want,”

“You need to watch your attitude, first of all. But you need to get out of that room. You are secluded and you isolate yourself from the world…”

I said nothing. In fact, I tuned out the entire speech. I couldn’t care less what they said. I wanted to get out of the room and run away. Virginia Woolf was right. A woman needs a room of her own – one with a door and a deadbolt on. I wasn’t pushing anyone out, I just needed my space.

“…and all that getting into your head must be driving you crazy!”


“We’re not saying you’re crazy but you seem to talk to yourself and you have these mood swings and when you go out, you’re a different person than you are at home.”

“I don’t talk to myself! I only talk with Ide and you know that! Where’s Ide?” I was tipsy from the surge of blood rushing to my head.

“What are you talking about?” asked Mother and Father looking truly disturbed.

Ide stood in front of the mirror, staring at me.

“What are they talking about, Ide? They think I’m crazy! Say something!”

My eyes suddenly looked at her reflection in the mirror, or lack of one. The room swam around me into a mocking face. When I looked back, Ide was gone. Ide was never there. The face mocked me, “You thought Ide was real? I-D-E: I Don’t Exist!”

An Ugly Clock

There is a clock that hangs on the living room wall. It has not been there from before. Someone may have put it up recently. I hadn’t paid much attention to it earlier – but now, I can honestly say that it is the ugliest contraption that I have ever laid eyes on.

A guest came in last week. When the awkward silence succeeded his conversation with the host, he looked up at the clock and beamed, “Why, that’s a most proper-looking clock I have seen”. Lost in thought, I was suddenly pulled into the present, wondering what had brought on this sudden change in matter. I was offended at how pretentious human beings had become in the present century and more so at how acceptable it was by Society.

The awkward ugly thing now glared dismally at me. Its second hand moved without a sound – its numbers were not etched. “Quite modern indeed – one of those Avant-garde creations that is supposed to turn heads. Simply magnificent,” the guest drawled on. I was annoyed at this over-reactive guest and his feeble attempts at conversation – but mostly because of his conceited character that shown through immediately.

What an abysmal person to be critical of the clock! If I hadn’t known any better, I would have been agreeing with him. The hostess was a naïve middle-aged woman who would believe the boy who cried wolf every time. This is the kind of innocence you would see in very few people. The sting came with how proud the hostess was at her innocence. “I don’t believe there can be anyone more gullible than me. Why, you could pickpocket me in front of my very eyes, and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea,” she giggled.

What it must be like to look at a clock and believe the first thing another says about it. Even if you were physically captured, your mind remains eternally free – transcending all restraint. How terrible to submit that freedom to the dominance of another!

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Lesson 2: Combating Writer’s Block

A beginner can face all kinds of troubles when it comes to writing their first work. In spite of your age, when you are first instilled with the idea to write, the self-confidence that goes along with it is very important for your follow-through. It would become very easy to give up especially after you’ve hit your first writer’s block.

Writer’s block is only a part of the process. The best way to combat this is to write when you are most inspired – this could be at any time of the day including 2 a.m. Gabriel Garcia Marquez said, “One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.” The first paragraph is also important in luring the reader into the story.

If you usually sit down to write at 9 p.m. daily after your chores and realize that you’ve hit a block, try writing at a different time of the day – maybe earlier in the morning. Make sure you follow the writing habit closely every day. Keeping a gap will only create disjointedness and make you lose your flow of thought.

The best source of your inspiration is other writers. Therefore, read for inspiration. If you find yourself stuck in terms of language, you can gain inspiration from any piece of good literature. To go a step ahead, read a bit of the classics. The contexts and settings of the Classics always use beautiful language; it may help you think more creatively. However, if you are stuck with regard to concept, you may have to continue doing your research.

Sometimes, you have the idea of your plot, but you reach a roadblock on how to phrase it in the most appealing way possible. In this case, write down your story in its most crude form. When you have a mental map of all the roads and alleys your plot may take, you will be much more ready to begin writing your story.

Set a timer for half-an-hour or fifteen minutes and try to write an essay on a simple topic. Then, grade yourself according to your standards of vocabulary, originality and creativity. This exercise can help you in the long run.

Don’t force yourself to write when you see that the effort is going nowhere. Take a break and immerse yourself in something completely unrelated. Give it time.

The most effective way, if you can access it, is to find a writing mentor. Show them manuscripts and journals so they get an idea about your writing style and can help guide you better.

Take physical care of yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep and drink a lot of water so that you have more than sufficient oxygen flowing through you. Take a walk or jog for a while so you have the blood circulation in your brain gets your creative juices flowing.

Writer’s block can hit the best of us. I’m talking about Coleridge, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Tolstoy, Woolf and Mansfeld who all faced writer’s block.

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’… And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” – Maya Angelou

A Curious Case of going back to basics

“Writing is not everyone’s cup of tea.” See? I told you, I just used a cliché there. Now that probably just annoys you. It’s okay. Some clichés are annoying. See what I did there? I just used 5 short sentences to pitch a simple idea. So, you agree with me? Writing can get a little tedious.

Writing is not difficult. Fine writing is.

You’re probably saying, “What, that’s a thing now? First we have fine dining and fine art and now fine writing?” Not exactly. Fine writing has existed since man could write. Fine writing got Chaucer or Bacon featured as canonical literature. Fine writing is subjective. It depends on what you enjoy.

Now, if you haven’t stopped reading this yet, I can assume that you are into writing and you probably have a decent collection of books. (Even if you don’t, it’s fine. You soon will.) Grab any random book off the shelf and read the first sentence. (If it has a prologue, skip it).

I just picked ‘The Good Lord Bird’ by James McBride. More like something I would read for my American Literature class, but…

“I was born a colored man and don’t you forget it. But I lived as a colored woman for seventeen years.”

Has it got you hooked? Do you have a vague idea about the book’s theme? What point of view are you using? Is it working for your novel? Wonderful. Great job, McBride – you modern day Mark Twain!

Let’s try another one.

This time I get ‘Charleston’ by Alexandra Ripley. Ooh, Romance.

“The wide street was quiet and deserted under the scorching sun. The leaves on the vines and trees in its gardens hung limply; even the birds had no strength to sing in the heavy, sticky air.”

Has it set the scene? Beautifully. Is it short and precise, while setting the scene? Most definitely. Do you have a vague idea about the book’s theme? Not quite, but you are intrigued enough to continue, are you not?

Since we are starting from scratch, I recommend the first step – analyze a little writing. If you liked a certain paragraph in a book, figure out what made it so intriguing. Do not dissect it to the point where it loses its essence. Read it once. What stays in your head after a while? A particular sentence? An image that was described in words? Could you hear the dialogue happening? Could you see the incident? Were you involved?

Please leave your experiences as a Comment. I’ll let you in on a deal in the next post.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Walt Disney


There may be no entertainment industry figure more influential than Disney’s eponymous founder. In his 65 years, Walt Disney succeeded in moving animation from a black-and-white novelty to a highly respected genre that would produce Oscar-worrthy feature films. More than a few of his creations — including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy — are instantly recognizable global icons. And the small animation house he founded on October 16, 1923 is now valued at more than $42 billion.

Yet, despite his fame, Disney remains a relatively unknown figure. His story is overshadowed by his achievements, and, sometimes, by outright myth.  In honor of The Walt Disney Company’s 90th anniversary, here are ten things you probably didn’t know about the man behind Mickey Mouse.

1. He dropped out of high school to join the army

During the first World War, a 16-year-old Walt Disney left school and attempted to enlist in…

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amritha zachariah

Where has our freedom gone? Is our freedom seriously under threat? Next time, when one thinks of talking or acting or even thinking about something , should they think about being taken to task or by being shot by Terrorists? Are they actually controlling what has to be said and done? What is happening?

Several examples can be laid that supports the above talked. For example the shooting of Malala Yousafzi ( at the age of 15) for raising her voice or rather fighting for her due rights of basic education, then can be the 2014 Peshawar killings where 140 innocent school kids were shot at a point blank range in their school building itself for pursuing education and also as a revenge of the Talibans against the Army officers as according to the Taliban, they wanted the Army people to feel the pain when their dear ones are massacred…

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Here We Go Again…


India is in the throes of what Salman Rushdie rightly calls a “cultural emergency.” Writers and artists of all kinds are being harassed, sued and arrested for what they say or write or create. The government either stands by and does nothing to protect freedom of speech, or it actively abets its suppression.

In recent years, the government has cast a watchful eye on the Internet, demanding that companies like Google and Facebook and remove items that might be deemed “disparaging” or “inflammatory,” according to technology industry executives there.

Freedom of expression needs to be promoted with legitimate limitations and in balance with other digital rights within an expanded legal and regulatory framework. There are challenges to deal with liability of intermediaries and governmental surveillance which might undermine freedom of expression.

The ubiquity of the technology goes hand-in-hand with the ubiquity of social media. But with rights come responsibilities. Unchecked, social…

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The Tyger by William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The Lamb by William Blake

         Little Lamb, who made thee?
         Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
         Little Lamb, who made thee?
         Dost thou know who made thee?

         Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
         Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb.
We are called by his name.
         Little Lamb, God bless thee!
         Little Lamb, God bless thee!

Adrienne Rich’s Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers – finally makes sense

Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,

Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.

They do not fear the men beneath the tree;

They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.

As we will come to know later in the poem, Aunt Jennifer is a very mild woman who lacks self-confidence and is terrified of most things in her life.  She is seen designing a tapestry of tigers in a green forest. The tigers appear to prance around confidently, unafraid of the hunters hiding among the trees. They move around in elegance and certainty. ‘Chivalric’ symbolizes knightly bravery. Using astounding poetry, she describes the tigers as bright topaz denizens – ‘denizens’ meaning inhabitants. The world of green is their home – the forest. A beautiful contrast of colors is sprung. The tigers wander through the forests with a grace that everything around them belongs to them. This gives them a dignity that makes them unafraid of man.

Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool

Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.

The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band

Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.

Aunt Jennifer, as we will see in the last paragraph, is a woman, who is terrified of the marital ordeals in her life. Hence, the wedding band appears to be weighing her down. She appears to be bound to social and marital obligations and the wedding band appears more of a restraint than a symbol of love or joy or freedom. She seems to have lost her freedom of expression in her marriage, and therefore expresses herself through the only way she knows – her art of designing tapestries. Being the mild woman she is, she wishes to channelize her desire of becoming that bold woman who stands up for herself. This she does, by creating tigers who are entirely opposite in nature to herself. Whilst she is terrified of everything in life, the tigers are bold and strong and do not fear anything. Whilst she is meek and unable to express herself, the tigers are elegant and pace with assured certainty. Why, Aunt Jennifer seems frightened even in the making of these bold, elegant beasts! This is seen in the fact that her fingers tremble in pulling the light, weightless ivory needle.

With creativity, it can be seen that like a ringed-in animal at a circus with no freedom, Aunt Jennifer appeared to be ringed in (with her wedding band) with no freedom.

When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie

Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

The tigers in the panel that she made

Will go prancing, proud and unafraid.

The poet has smartly used a synecdoche in which Aunt Jennifer’s hands represent her whole being.

The poet does not show if she sympathizes with Aunt Jennifer or not. This paragraph vaguely indicates that the poet may have expected better from Aunt Jennifer. She might have stood up for herself more and freed herself from all social, marital obligations and restraints. It might be too late; it might not – but when aunt is dead, she will still be imprisoned in her restraints. There will be no freedom for her, even in death. However the tigers that she has crafted will continue to prance around their home – the forest – bold, proud and unafraid.

John Keats’ A thing of Beauty – finally makes sense

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.

Very simply put, yet poetic, Keats describes a thing of beauty as emanating joy forever. Its beauty only increases and it will never cease. The benefits proffered by a thing of beauty are listed as giving sound rest with good dreams and well-being.

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…

The earth minus the beautiful things is a despondent, spiteful place thriving in callous insensitive dearth and is harsh toward human beings. Every day human beings face gloomy days packed with unhealthy spite and darkness. However, in spite of all, a thing of beauty helps remove the dark cloud that burdens our souls. Hence, the poet says that we – human beings – each day create an ornate band, made of all the lovely things we see. This band keeps us bound to the despondent earth – as we would otherwise be hopeless.

… 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,

Rich with a sparkling 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.

This closing paragraph simply tells us some of the beautiful things on Earth. After all, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – Everyone can highlight something beautiful in anything. The examples cited by the poet are as such: the sun, the moon, trees, flowers, streams, musk-rose blooms, architectural sepulchers, even fairy tales or heroic legends. The ‘simple sheep’ are human beings – the poet sympathizes with the innocence of human beings. Keats sees the beauty in innocent humans seeking solace in nature, and Mother Nature in its own way sprouts a shady abode of relief and consolation. The expression ‘Lily of the valley’ is quite well known and rouses images of a delicate lone white flower holding up its head amidst a setting of thorns and barbs and everything contrary in nature to delicateness – so too are the daffodils mentioned in the poem.

The poet also sees beauty in the death of martyrs and legends. ‘The mighty dead’ are those martyrs who have died bravely for a cause. We honor them by erecting magnificent, grand sepulchers in which beauty is seen. If one looks around, there are innumerable beautiful things to notice – they seem to flow immortally as a fountain, from the gods above to help the pitiable human beings to cope with the harshness of life.

Robert Frost’s A Roadside Stand – finally makes sense!

The little old house was out with a little new shed

In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped,

A roadside stand that too pathetically pled,

It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread,

But for some of the money, the cash, whose flow supports

The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint.

 The poem presents an old house where a peasant family probably lives. The peasant has put up a new shed beside the road. The shed has been personified (personification) to plead. The poet, however, stresses that it does not plead for bread or the basic amenities of life i.e. the peasant has not set up the shed as a means of living but rather as a source of additional income apart from his trade. The peasants who live in the countryside yearn for some city money. Note that there is no difference between the money in the countryside and money in the cities – the only difference being their usage. While money in the countryside was fit only for a hand-to mouth lifestyle, the city money, in excess, could bring in luxurious benefits. In the poem, Frost artfully describes the city money as the incentive for the growth and upkeep of the city’s flowers and beauty.

The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead,

Or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts

At having the landscape marred with the artless paint

Of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned wrong

Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts,

Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts,

Or beauty rest in a beautiful mountain scene,

The polished traffic is the skillful use of a transferred epithet in the depiction of the urban city-dwellers who passed through the countryside with their minds preoccupied in their profession and the related.  The poet states that in their preoccupation, if ever aside remained a moment, they spent it on scrutinizing and judging the destitution of their surroundings. They appear mad at having the beauty of the landscape marred by the presence of the shed and other rustic signs. The poet goes on to mention a few of the produce being sold at the shed.

You have the money, but if you want to be mean,

Why keep your money (this crossly) and go along.

The hurt to the scenery wouldn’t be my complaint

So much as the trusting sorrow of what is unsaid:

Here far from the city we make our roadside stand

And ask for some city money to feel in hand

To try if it will not make our being expand,

And give us the life of the moving-pictures’ promise

That the party in power is said to be keeping from us.

The paragraph is a Dramatic Monologue by the peasant in charge of the shed. The peasant agrees that money indeed belongs to the city dwellers, however, if they were interested in imparting biased judgment and other uninvited observations, they could keep their money to themselves and move along. Their complaint on the marred scenery does not hurt the peasants as much as the sorrow that is left unsaid. ‘Trusting Sorrow’ is a metaphor and refers to the fact that the peasants set up the shed in the hopes (‘trusting’) of attracting city folk to buy their produce, thus providing the additional income to enjoy the luxuries of life. However, they are disappointed (‘sorrow’) in the fact that no one is interested in their sales, but rather on the elimination of the shed that mars the landscape. Once again, the poet stresses on the fact that the peasants do not want the money as the lone source of income but as an additional allowance that will provide them with the lifestyle depicted in the movies. ‘City Money’ is used by the poet as it differs from country money in usage but shares the same source. Using light satire, Frost admonishes the political party in power for keeping the farmers from enjoying an equal lifestyle like the city-dwellers.

It is in the news that all these pitiful kin

Are to be bought out and mercifully gathered in

To live in villages, next to the theatre and the store,

Where they won’t have to think for themselves anymore,

While greedy good-doers, beneficent beasts of prey,

Swarm over their lives enforcing benefits

That are calculated to soothe them out of their wits,

And by teaching them how to sleep they sleep all day,

Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way.

Farmers tend to live in rustic areas due to the presence of farmlands. The idea behind the paragraph is that real-estate brokers force farmers from the villages into towns promising them riches and benefits. The farmers will indeed be rich for a while after which they will be left scoundrels ultimately resulting in the benefit of the brokers. ‘Greedy good-doers’ and ‘beneficent beasts of prey’ are both oxymoron (and great use of alliteration). They stand for the estate brokers who try to make the farmers leave the land by promising the farmers benefits that make them complacent, so the farmers will not have to think for themselves any longer as they will no longer be in want. Now sluggish, the farmers have learnt to sleep all the day thereby losing their sleep at night. ‘The ancient way’ spoken of over here simply refers to the lifestyle wherein one works and toils during the day, coming home tired in the evening and thereby taking a well-deserved good night’s rest.

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.

And one did stop, but only to plow up grass

In using the yard to back and turn around;

And another to ask the way to where it was bound;

Using the terms ‘childish longing’ the poet skillfully demonstrates how the wish for a customer becomes almost an obsession with these peasants. However, it still is in vain. Sadness here has been personified again, as lurking near the open window, almost praying for a city-dweller stop by the shed and at least inquire on farmer’s prices, let alone purchase anything! Citing an example, Frost says that a car indeed stopped by, but it had nothing to do with the shed. It merely revved up its engine, plowing up grass in order to turn around. Yet another car did stop, but only to ask for directions. ‘Selfish cars’ is yet another skillful use of a transferred epithet.

And another to ask could they sell it a gallon of gas

They couldn’t (this crossly); they had none, didn’t it see?

Another car stopped by to ask for a gallon of gas. Now enraged at the thoughtlessness of the city-folk, the peasant rebukes the driver, “No, we don’t sell gas! We sell produce – Don’t you see??”

No, in country money, the country scale of gain,

The requisite lift of spirit has never been found,

Or so the voice of the country seems to complain,

I can’t help owning the great relief it would be

To put these people at one stroke out of their pain.

And then next day as I come back to sane,

I wonder how I should like you to come to me

And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

Once again the poet wishes to draw a fine line between the city money and country money. The country scale of gain is different from that of the city’s as its standards are much lower. Due to these low standards, the country scale of gain cannot provide the happiness (lift of spirit) as they earn just enough to meet their daily needs. This urges the poet to wish that he could put the farmers out of their pain at one stroke. This somehow inspires readers to do so too by augmenting guilt. This poem is a rage that the poet feels wherein he himself empathizes with the peasant farmer. However, he also wonders for the future wondering how he would respond if someone else comes up to him and offers to put him out of his pain at one stroke, tomorrow, once he has steadied himself back to sane. By this, he wonders about the efficiency of such kind of a solution as the farmers may not accept such immediate relief from their problems.

Arthur Phillips

The Tragedy of Arthur >> Arthur Phillips

Arthur’s talented (and unreliable) father is a con artist. He gifts Arthur and his twin an undiscovered play written by Shakespeare, which he wants published by Random House. Apart from the gripping lives of the two Arthurs – the novelist and the king – there also is a literary treat: Arthur Phillips has written a ‘new’ Shakespearean play, that Shakespeare experts have claimed as being amazingly similar to Shakespeare’s works. This faux play is appended to the end of the novel and is worth the read in every way.