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Asleep in the Valley
By Arthur Rimbaud
1) Title of the Poem
The original title of the poem is “Le Dormeur du Val” meaning the sleeper of the valley. The English title is “Asleep in the Valley”. It is clear from the poem that the sleeper here is a young soldier. The soldier is falling asleep here forever because he is killed by the two bullets in his side in war. The poet has also given a beautiful picture setting. The valley is green and silver stream is flowing through the valley. There is fern. We find flowers around him. The soldier is lying open mouthed and totally unconscious to the surroundings as he is dead. The violence of War is exposed in contrast to the beautiful setting of the valley. So, the title is very suggestive and apt.
2) “ Ah, Nature, keep him warm; he may catch cold.” – who is he? Why may he get cold? Why does the poet ask nature to keep him warm?
Ans: Here in this poem “Asleep in the Valley” ‘he’ refers to the young soldier who is asleep in the valley.
He may catch cold because he is lying in the lap of nature under the open sky. So, the poet asks nature to keep the soldier warm.
Actually the poet Arthur Rimbaud wants to show the futility of war by requesting nature to keep him warm. This is irony. None can avoid death. So, when death comes nature cannot make one alive again. The soldier who is actually lifeless cannot receive warmth again. Even the creator fails to bring a person back to life. This irony expresses the dark side of war and the consequence of violence.
3) What is the theme of the poem “Asleep in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud?
The poem is highly suggestive. The poet himself witnessed the horror of war as a soldier. Naturally, the theme of the poem is all about war. It is a poem about the futility of war. In fact, we have to wait up to the last line to get an idea about the theme of the poem. The poet has given a beautiful description of the valley.
We find a feeling of beauty and the bounty of nature. Then we find a soldier who is fast asleep among flowers and humming insects, but there is doubt about his condition. We are really shocked and surprised when we find the soldier dead because there are “two red holes” in the side of the soldier. We understand that this is the ravage of war. This is the outcome of the war. It is nothing but a heart-rending picture of the consequences of war through the image of a dead soldier.
4) “The humming insects don’t disturb his rest” – Whose rest is referred to here? Where is he taking rest? What puts him on rest? Why can’t the insects disturb his rest?
In the poem “Asleep in the Valley”, the young soldier takes rest.
He is taking rest in the green grassy valley.
Seemingly, the soldier is asleep. Sleep puts him on rest. But actually, at the very end of the poem, we come to know that he is a casualty of War. So, war puts him on rest.
The young soldier is taking rest in the green grassy and bushy valley. Insects are flying here and there making a very charming buzzing sound. The setting is very picturesque. These humming insects fail to disturb the rest of the young soldier because he is dead. Now, none can disturb is rest. War has snatched away the youthful life of the young soldier.
5) “In his side there are two red holes.” – Where does the line occur? Who is addressed here? What caused the ‘two red holes’? What do the ‘two red holes’ signify?
The above-quoted line occurs in the poem “Asleep in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud.
Here the young soldier, a casualty of war, is addressed.
The ‘two red holes’ were caused by the bullets in the war.
The young soldier was shot to death by the bullets in the battlefield. He was wounded directly in the rib which indicated that the injuries were very serious. The line shows the pity of war. The merciless butchery in the battlefield is exposed here. The soldier is a victim of war.
6) “His smile
Is like an infant’s.”-
Whose smile is referred to here? Why is it compared to that of an infant? How does the nature treat him? (1+2+3)
Answer: In the poem “Asleep in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud, the smile of a young soldier lying dead in a small green valley is referred to.
It seems that the young soldier takes peaceful rest after toiling hard in the battlefield. A gentle and candid smile flickers across his lips. In the very lines, the poet wants to say that death has rewarded the soldier the eternal and peaceful sleep i.e. death.
Here nature seems to provide all comforts to the soldier. The young soldier was lying on warm green bed provided by nature. Nature also gives him the ferny pillow under his head and the heavy undergrowth acts as a cushioned bed for him. Various colourful flowers of the valley also smoothed him by their fresh fragrance.
7. The word “sun” has been used three times in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”. What is the significance of it?
Ans: The “sun” is a preserver and supreme nourisher of life. It is also the symbol of life. The sun rays make the valley green and warm and bright. Yet the sun cannot bright the innocent, dead soldier back to life. The three-fold repetition of the word “sun” signifies, very ironically, the terrible destruction caused by war. The destruction is irredeemable, and even the powerful “sun” fails to reverse the devastation of life.
8. “A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed.” – Where is this line taken from? Of whom is the line spoken? Why does the soldier lie open-mouthed? Narrate how the soldier lies in the valley? (1+1+2+2=6)
Answer: The above-mentioned line is taken from Arthur Rimbaud’s anti-war poem, ‘Asleep in the Valley’.
A young soldier lying dead among the bushes of the sunlit valley is spoken here.
The soldier lies open-mouthed because he is dead. The soldier lies dead because two bullets have pierced (বিদীর্ণ করেছে) his body brutally (নিষ্ঠুরভাবে). The two red holes in the side of the soldier’s body indicate (নির্দেশ করে) the horrible (ভয়ানক) cause (কারণ) of the soldier’s pitiful and untimely death.
The soldier lies in the heavy undergrowth (ঝোপ) with a pillow made of fern under his head. He is pale (বিবর্ণ) and his feet are among the flowers.
9. Look at the word ‘asleep’. What do we normally associate with the word? When do the readers recognize that the soldier is asleep in a different state?
Ans: The word ‘asleep’ normally indicates a state of sleep. We associate it with ‘sleeping’. It actually is an inactive condition of mind and body. When we call someone ‘falling asleep’ we want to say that he is temporarily at rest and peace. We know that he will soon get up and start doing his normal works.
But the word ‘asleep’ in the poem ‘Asleep In The Valley’ is used in different sense. The reader is introduced to a soldier in the poem. He lies asleep. The reader has not an ounce of doubt that the soldier lies dead. But he is shocked and dismayed when he discovers ‘two red holes’ in the side of the soldier. These two bullet marks shatter his illusion. He readily recognizes that the soldier is just not asleep; he is actually dead.
10. “The humming insects don’t disturb his rest.” – Where does this line occur? Give the name of the poet of the poem. Bring out the implication of the above-mentioned line.
Ans: The above-mentioned line occurs in the poem “Asleep in the Valley“
The name of the poet of the poem “Asleep in the Valley” is Arthur Rimbaud.
In the poem the poet has given a picturesque description of a beautiful valley which is full of flowers and nature is quite wild here. In the lonely valley, the young soldier is lying dead. Insects are flying here and there from flower to flower. While flying they are making humming sounds. But their humming sounds cannot disturb the sleep of the young soldier. The very line vividly indicates that the soldier is no more, he is dead. He is in eternal sleep. This is the implication of the above-mentioned line.
11. “A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed.” –
Who is the soldier? How is he sleeping How is the place where he sleeps?
Ans: The young soldier who was a casualty or victim (শিকার) of war is referred to here in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”.
The soldier is sleeping peacefully in a valley bathed in sunlight.
The valley (উপত্যকাটি) where (যেখানে) the soldier (সৈনিক টি) sleeps (ঘুমিয়ে আছে) is (হয়) very (খুব) beautiful (সুন্দর). The valley (উপত্যকাটি) is full (পূর্ণ হয়ে আছে) of green (সবুজ) trees (গাছপালাতেে). The place (জায়গাটি) is surrounded (ঘেরা আছে) by mountains (পাহাড়ের দ্বারা). The grassy (ঘাসে ঢাকা) area (এলাকাটি) is (হয়) warm (উষ্ণ বা গরম) because (কারণ) it (এটি) is full (পরিপূর্ণ আছে) of sunlight (সূর্যের আলোতে). There (সেখানে) the insects (পতঙ্গগুলি) are flying (উড়ছিল).
12. “The humming insects don’t disturb his rest.” – Whose ‘rest’ is referred to here? Who puts him to sleep? Why can’t the insects disturb his rest?
Ans: The peaceful (শান্তিপূর্ণ) rest (বিশ্রাম) of the young (যুবক) dead (মৃত) soldier (সৈনিকের) is referred to (উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে) here in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”.
The cruel (নিষ্ঠুর) war (যুদ্ধ) puts the young (যুবক) soldier (সৈনিকটিকে) to untimely (অসময়ের) eternal (চিরন্তন) sleep (ঘুম).
The insects which are humming there cannot disturb his rest because the young soldier is enjoying the peaceful eternal sleep i.e. the soldier is dead. He is nothing but a casualty of war.
13. How does the poet express the futility of war through his poem “Asleep in the Valley”? What message does he want to convey? (4+2) (HS Exam-2018)
Ans: During writing the poem “Asleep in the Valley”, the poet Arthur Rimbaud had the horrible and destructive (ধ্বংসাত্মক) aspects (দিক) of war in his mind. War snatchers away (ছিনিয়ে নেয়) the young lives unnaturally (অস্বাভাবিক ভাবে). Very shockingly (ভীষণ দুঃখের সঙ্গে), we find a soldier sleeping in the valley, but he is not sleeping naturally, he is sleeping forever, that is, he is dead. The ‘two red holes’ on the side of the soldier shatters (চুরমার করে দেয়) our dream. Thus the poem, as an anti-war poem, comes to an end in a tragic tone highlighting the futility of war.
The poet Arthur Rimbaud wants to convey the message that a war can never bring peace to mankind. It causes nothing but loss of lives and huge damage. War can never give us a better world. The poet’s anti-war attitude is vivid (স্পষ্ট) here.
14. What is the poet’s attitude to war as revealed in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”? How does the poet universalise the subject matter of the poem? (4+2)
Ans: In the poem “Asleep in the Valley”, it is very clear that the poet is tremendously against war and warfare. According to the poet, war is the massless butchery of promising youths. In the expressions like ‘pale in his worm sun-soaked bed’ and ‘In his side there are two red holes’, the brutality of war is expressed. The hypocrisy of the politicians, diplomats and warmongers have been suggested through the description of the guileless smile of the dead young soldier.
The poet universalizes the subject matter by upholding the tragic situation of the unnamed young soldier.
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