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    12th English – Lesson 1 – Poem – The Castle


    12th English – Lesson 1 – Poem – The Castle

    (a) What thoughts come to your mind when or/you think about
    a castle? Add your ideas to the list.

    Answer: moat, huge buildings, soldiers,
    weapons gatehouse, look outs.


    (b) Have you ever visited a fort or a castle?

    Answer: Yes I have visited the red Fort in


    (c) Fill in the following empty boxes.


    Name – Location

    Fort St. George –

    Gingee Fort –
    Villupuram District

    Golconda Fort –

    Red Fort    – Delhi


    1. Based on your understanding of the poem,
    answer the following questions in one or two sentences each.

    (a) Who is the narrator in the poem?

    Answer: A soldier is the narrator in the


    (b) How long had the soldiers been in the castle?

    Answer: The soldiers had been in the castle
    all through the summer.


    (c) Why were the soldiers in the castle fearless?

    Answer: They were fearless because they were
    behind a well-guarded castle headed by a brave captain. Allies were close at
    hand and they had adequate arms to fight and foodgrains to sustain them under a


    (d) Where were the enemies?

    Answer: Of course yes. There were enemies.


    (e) Why does the narrator say that the enemy was no threat
    at all?

    Answer: Soldiers behind the turret wall were
    ready to shoot the enemy at sight. The castle was surrounded by a deadly moat.
    The captain was brave and the soldiers loyal. Allies were close at hand. Hence,
    the enemy was no threat at all.


    (f) Did the soldiers fight with the enemies face to face?

    Answer: No, the soldiers did not fight with
    their enemies face to face.


    (g) Who had let the enemies in?

    Answer: The aged greedy wicket gate keeper
    had let the enemy in.


    (h) How did the enemies enter the castle?

    Answer: The enemies bribed the warder with
    gold coins. He opened the wicket gate and the castle was captured without
    bloodshed and fight.


    (i) Why were the secret galleries bare?

    Answer: The secret galleries were looted by
    the cunning enemies. So, they were bare.


    (j) What was the ‘shameful act’?

    Answer: Being sold to an enemy and losing the
    castle without heroic fight is a ‘shameful act’.


    (k) Why didn’t the narrator want to tell the tale to

    Answer: The narrator did not want to tell the
    shameful act because it will expose the greed of the aged warder. He had sold
    them all for a bag of gold. They did not have any weapon to fight the invisible
    enemy within.


    (l) Why did the narrator feel helpless?

    Answer: The narrator felt helpless because
    they could not fight gold. The greed for gold is an invisible and internal
    enemy and they had no weapon to fight it with. So, they felt helpless.


    (m) Who was the real enemy?

    Answer: “The gold” was their real enemy.


    2. Read
    the poem again and complete the summary using the words given in box.


    Castle ’ by Edwin Muir is a moving poem on the (1) _____ of a well-guarded (2)
    _____ The soldiers of the castle were totally stress-free and relaxed. They
    were (3) _____ of theircastle’s physical strength. Through the turrets they
    were able to watch the mowers and noenemy was found up to the distance of (4)
    _____ and so they seemed no threat to the castle.They had (5) _____ of weapons
    to protect them and a large quantity of (6) _____ in stock to take care of the
    well-being of the soldiers inside the castle. The soldiers stood one above
    theother on the towering (7) _____ to shoot the enemy at sight. They believed
    that the castle was absolutely safe because their captain was (8) _____ and the
    soldiers were loyal.

    – watching 

    – ration

    – capture

    – confident












    by a trick no one but the birds could enter. The enemy could not use a (9)
    ______ for their entry inside the castle. But there was a wicket gate guarded
    by a (10) ______ He (11) ______ in the enemies confident inside the famous
    citadel that had been known for its secret gallery and intricate path. The
    strong castle became (12) ______ and thin because of the greedy disloyal
    warder. The (13) ______ was captured by the enemies for (14) ______ The
    narrator (15) ______ over the (16) ______ of the useless warder and also
    decided not to disclose this (17) ______ story to anyone. He was (18) ______
    and wondered how he would keep this truth to himself. He regretted not finding
    any (19) ______ to fight with the (20) ______ called ‘gold’.

    – shameful   

    – guard bait

    – gold   

    – weapon

    – citadel

    – weak

    – helpless

    – enemy



    wicked guard












    3. Read the poem and answer the following in a
    short paragraph of 8-10 sentences each.

    (a) How safe was the castle? How was it conquered?

    Answer: The castle was fortified by a deep
    moat very difficult for an enemy to cross. They had a stock pile of arms. Their
    captain was brave and the soldiers loyal. They had a huge stock of foodgrains
    to last any siege of the castle. Allies were ready to pitch in at a short
    notice. From the turret wall, soldiers were ready to shoot down the enemy at
    sight. Not a single enemy was spotted all through the summer. The soldiers were
    relaxed and spent time gazing at the mowers in the distant fields. But the
    castle’s wicket gate was guarded by an aged greedy gatekeeper. The warder
    collected gold from the enemy and let the enemies in. Their enemy was gold
    against which they had no weapon. Their castle fell to the greed of an aged


    (b) Bring out the contrasting picture of the castle as
    depicted in stanzas 3 and 5.

    Answer: The gates of the castle were very strong. The walls were
    high and smooth. No enemy could ever enter it by trick. The soldiers were quite
    alert to the movement of the enemies. They were proud that only a bird could
    venture to scale over the castle. But the enemies entered through the wicket
    gate. The tunnelled stone walls became thin and treacherous. The famous citadel
    ‘ was overthrown without a fight. The cunning enemies, having bribed the aged
    warder, looted the treasures in the secret galleries. The citadel was lost
    without a fight and a groan of protest.


    (c) Human greed led to the mighty fall of the citadel.

    Answer: The loyal soldiers and their brave
    captain expected enemies from outside the castle. Their arms and army was ready
    to fight them. But they could not identify the enemy within. The soldiers were
    proud that no might would tear their castle down. But they were unaware of the
    • invisible soul-dead enemy within. The ingredients of personal downfall went
    unnoticed by them. If a person never looks within, the faults that can be their
    doom go overlooked. Their reality could crumble while they gaze outward and
    pride themselves on their sureness. This is what happened precisely with the
    soldiers of the castle. They only focused on the strength of their physical
    surroundings and what was beyond the castle. Human greed-propelled betrayal
    from within caused the castle’s downfall.


    4. Read the given lines and answer the questions
    that follow in a line or two.

    (a) “All through
    the summer at ease we lay,

    And daily from the
    turret wall

    We watched the
    mowers in the hay”


    (i) Who does ‘we’ refer to?

    Answer: “We” refers to the brave and loyal
    soldiers in the castle.


    (ii) How did the soldiers spend the summer days?

    Answer: They spent the summer days gazing out
    of the castle. They were ready to shoot the enemy at sight who were at half-a
    kilometer distance. But none came near. So, they were relaxed.


    (iii) What could
    they watch from the turret wall?

    Answer: They could watch the farmers mowing at
    a distance from inside their turret walls.


    (b) “Our gates were
    strong, our walls were thick,

    So smooth and high,
    no man could win. ”

    (i) How safe was the castle?

    Answer: The castle had high and smooth walls.
    No enemy could think of climbing it as soldiers were ready to shoot the enemy
    at sight. The moat was deadly and deep.


    (ii) What was the firm belief of the soldiers?

    Answer: The soldiers had the firm belief that
    their castle was invincible. They felt safe and secure behind the castle.


    (c) “A foothold
    there, no clever trick

    Could take us dead
    or quick,

    Only a bird could
    have got in.”

    (i) What was challenging?

    Answer: Scaling over the castle’s smooth and
    high walls was challenging.


    (ii) Which aspect of the castle’s strength is conveyed by
    the above line?

    Answer: The physical strength of the castle
    (i.e.) its brave and loyal soldiers, the stockpile of arms and well stocked
    granary, is conveyed here.


    (d) “Oh then our
    maze of tunneled stone

    Grew thin and
    treacherous as air.

    The castle was lost
    without a groan,

    The famous citadel

    (i) Bring out the contrast in the first two lines.

    Answer: The maze of tunnelled stone walls
    instead of intriguing the enemies, gave passage to them. So, the poet says the
    secret tunnelled path became thin and treacherous as air.


    (ii) What happened to the castle?

    Answer: The castle was captured by the


    (e) “We could do
    nothing, being sold.”

    (i) Why couldn’t they do anything?

    Answer: The enemies had entered through the
    wicket gate stealthily and easily occupied their castle.


    (ii) Why did they feel helpless?

    Answer: They felt helpless because they had
    no weapon to fight “Gold” their invisible enemy. Their castle fell due to the
    unnoticed greed of their warder, an aged man.


    5. Explain the following with reference to the
    context in about 50-60 words each.

    (a) They seemed no threat to us at all.



    This line is from Edwin Muir’s poem “The Castle”.

    Context and

    The poet says these words while flaunting the invincibility
    of their strong castle. They could watch the movement of enemies from the
    turret wall and shoot down the enemy at a distance of half-a-kilometer. They
    had a stock pile of arms. Their granary was full to sustain the people in the
    event of a siege. Only a bird could have got into the castle. So, the enemies
    did not seem to be a threat at all to the soldiers.


    (b) How can this shameful tale be told?



    This line is from Edwin Muir’s poem “The Castle”.

    Context and

    The narrator feels disgraced that their strong castle was
    overtaken without a groan. There was no fight. They were helpless because under
    the cover of darkness, they were sold for gold by the aged warder. It was a
    shameful and treacherous act of betrayal. The castle had fallen due to the
    greed of an aged warder. The narrator is hesitant to disclose the shameful
    betrayal to outsiders.


    (c) I will maintain until my death



    This line is from Edwin Muir’s poem “The Castle”.

    Context and

    The poet says this while recounting the shameful act of
    betrayal by the aged warder of the wicket gate. The narrator was overconfident
    of the invincibility of their castle, their stock piled arms and well-stocked
    granary. They had a brave captain and loyal soldiers. In an open war, they need
    not fear defeat as their friendly neighbours were also willing to join them
    during a war against any invader. But their enemy was within their fortified
    castle. They were sold for a bag of gold. Without a groan the citadel was
    captured. It was a shameful way to lose one’s side. So, the narrator prefers
    not to recount this shameful secret to anyone so long as he is alive.


    (d) Our only enemy was gold



    This line is from Edwin Muir’s poem “The Castle”.

    Context and

    The helpless soldier says this while being surprised by the
    enemies who bribed the wicked wicket gate keeper. The soldier was initially
    proud of their fortified castle, brave and loyal soldiers and pile of arms and
    the well-stocked granary to last a siege. There was vigil behind the turret
    wall. But he was not aware of the enemy within the human soul: the greed. Gold
    was their enemy for which they had no weapon. The wizened warder had let the
    enemy in through the wicket gate by taking “gold”. The weakness of the
    gatekeeper for gold made the strong castle weak.


    6. Read the poem and complete the table with suitable
    rhyming words



    – hay

    – all

    – trick

    – in

    – near

    – road

    – gate

    – gold

    – through

    – groan

    – bare


    7. Underline the alliterated words in the
    following lines.

    (a) With our arms and provender, load on load.

    Answer: With our arms and provender, load on


    (b) A little wicked wicket gate.

    Answer: A little wicked wicket gate.


    (c) The wizened warder let them through.

    Answer: The wizened warder let them through.


    8. Identify the
    figure of speech used in the following lines.

    (a) A little wicked wicket gate.

    Answer: Personification


    (b) Oh then our maze of tunneled stone

    Answer: Metaphor


    (c) Grew thin and treacherous as air.

    Answer: Simile


    (d) How can this shameful tale be told?

    Answer: Personification


    (e) Our only.enemy was gold.

    Answer: Personification


    9. Can you call ‘The Castle’ an allegorical poem? Discuss.


    castle is doubtless an allegorical poem. The outward strength of the castle is
    matchless. It is fortified well. It has brave soldiers and large quantity of
    arms are stockpiled. The castle houses well stocked granary also. But the
    castle also conceals the ingredients of personal downfall within. If a person
    does not look within, their doom may be unstoppable. It is very difficult to
    protect oneself against greed, particularly the love of gold, instilled deep in
    the psyche of human beings. People say, “everything is fair in love and war.”
    People resort to anything to win in a war. Gandhi said, “the end never
    justifies the means.” But in times of war people stoop down to any betrayal to
    win. Thus, the castle is an allegorical poem.


    Listening Activity

    Following is one of the most celebrated poems of Rupert
    Brooke. It describes the noble sacrifice of an English soldier.


    I should die, think only this of me:

    there’s some comer of a foreign field

    is forever England. There shall be

    that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

    dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

    once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;

    body of England’s, breathing English air,

    by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

    think, this heart, all evil shed away,

    pulse in the eternal mind, no less

    somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

    sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

    laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

    hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

    Some phrases have
    been left out in the poem below. Fill in the missing phrases on listening to
    the reading or the audio played by the teacher. You may listen again, if
    required. Soldier


    If I should die,
    (1)_____ That there’s some comer (2)_____ That is (3)_____ There shall beIn
    that rich earth a richer (4)_____ A dust whom England bore, shaped, made
    aware,Gave, (5)_____ roam;A body (6)_____ air,Washed (7)_____ suns of home.And
    think, (8)_____ away,A pulse in the (9)_____ , no less Gives somewhere back
    (10) given;Her (11)_____ ; dreams happy as her day;And laughter, (12)_____ ;
    and gentleness,In hearts (13)_____ English heaven.


    think only this of me

    of a foreign field

    forever England

    dust concealed

    once, her flowers to love, her ways to

    of England’s breathing English

    by the rivers, blest by

    this heart, all evil shed

    eternal mind

    the thoughts by England

    sights and sounds

    learnt of friends

    at peace, under an


    1. The castles in the air, means the ideas or imaginations in our heads, and by the thought, that our work need not be lost, it means, that the chances of losing them there is very rare, because they have not still came out, and have yet not mixed with the outer world. But what is needed is just giving them a reality by working on them in our real lives and that is the meaning of putting the foundation under them.


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