Class IX, Literature Reader for English (Communicative)
I CANNOT REMEMBER MY MOTHER
Theme of the Poem
‘I Cannot Remember My Mother’ is a philosophical poem. The poem is indirectly a meaningful poem and bears an appropriate title. The symbol of mother is extended to things of Nature, mother earth and the motherland. The motherless child cannot remember his mother and yet finds her presence in his playthings, in swinging of the cradle and in the fragrance of flowers.
Stanzas of the Poem (Comprehension)
Q.1: “I cannot remember . . . . . . rocking my cradle.”
(a): Who is the ‘I’ in these lines?
(b): Why does he not remember his mother?
(c): Does the speaker recall the tune of his mother’s song clearly?
(a): ‘I’ is the child who speaks these lines.
(b): He does not remember his mother because he was estranged from his mother when he was too young.
(c): No, the speaker does not recall the tune of his mother’s song clearly. The tune just flashes across his mind faintly.
Q.2: “I cannot remember . . . . . scent of my mother.”
(a): What happens in autumn which reminds the poet of his mother?
(b): What do you think the poet’s mother did with the shiuli flowers?
(c): What do you think would constitute ‘the scent of morning service in the temple’?
(a): The smell of shiuli flowers spreads in the air in autumn. It is associated with the scent of his mother. It reminds him of his mother.
(b): The poet’s mother must be using the shiuli flowers during her morning prayer in the temple.
(c): The scent of morning service in the temple constitutes the scent of the shiuli flowers offered at the altar to seek some deity’s blessings.
Q.3: “I cannot remember . . . . . spread all over the sky.”
(a): Identify the speaker.
(b): What is he reminded of when he looks at the sky?
(a): The speaker is a young child.
(b): When he looks at the sky, he is reminded of the stillness of his mother’s gaze on his face that spreads all over the sky.
English Textbook Exercise Questions
(a) Why do you think the poet does not remember his mother?
(b) How old is the poet at the time of his mother’s death? Give reasons to support your answer.
(c) Explain the following expressions:
(i) Only sometimes in the midst of my play a tune seems to hover over my playthings.
(ii) I feel that the stillness of my mother’s gaze on my face has spread all over sky.
(a) Refer to answer of Q1 (b) above.
(b) The poet was a small child at the time of his mother’s death. This can be inferred from a reference to his playthings which evoke the memory of his mother.
(c)(i) When the poet is playing with his toys, he can recollect a tune of the song sung by his mother as she rocked his cradle in the past.
(c)(ii) The stillness of the sky is like the expression on the face of the poet’s mother when she used to look at him.
(i) What is the poet doing when he remembers his mother?
(ii) What reminds him of her?
(iii) When did his mother hum that song?
(i) The poet is playing when he remembers he remembers his mother.
(ii) His toys remind him of her.
(iii) His mother used to hum that song while rocking his cradle.
(i) What happens in autumn which reminds the poet of his mother?
(ii) What do you think the poet’s mother did with the shiuli flowers?
(iii) What do you think would constitute “the scent of morning service in the temple”?
(i) Refer to answer of Q2(a) above.
(ii) Refer to answer of Q2(b) above.
(iii) Refer to answer of Q2(c) above.
Q.8: Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry does not have a rhyme scheme or a fixed length for each line. Yet it is poetry. Why?
Ans: This poem has been written in blank verse. Also the rhyme scheme is not seen, which could be since the poem has been translated from Bengali to English.