WORKING WITH THE POEM
(i) Who is the speaker in the poem?
(ii) With your partner list out the happenings the speaker is worried about.
(iii) Why do you think she/he has these worries? Can you think of ways to get rid of such worries?
(i) Shel Silverstein, the poetess, is the speaker in this poem.
(ii) The speaker is worried about the following happenings.
1. She becomes dumb.
2. The Swimming pool is closed.
3. She fails in the examination.
4. She get beaten up.
5. Her parents get divorced.
6. She is hit by lightning.
7. She gets sick and dies.
(iii) Most of our worries are born out of baseless fears. With a strong will power and the right positive attitude to life, one can get rid of such worries.
Read the following line. Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear.
Can words crawl into your ear? This is an image. The poet is trying to make an image of what she/he experiences. Now with your partner try and list out some more images from the poem.
Аnswers: We all think in terms of words. Our mind remains active all the 24 hours. It doesn’t rest even at night. It is crowded with ideas, both sweet and bitter. In this way words, creating a picture or scene, enter one’s mind and ears. Dreams are also action packed scenes. We talk, shout, tremble with fear and sweat at night.
In groups of four discuss some more “Whatifs” that you experience in your day to day life and list them out.
(i) The thieves and killers sometimes force their way into house.
(ii) Supposing a mechanic or telephone lineman or an electrician knocks on the door.
(iii) Strangers, salesmen and vendors press the call-bell to gain entry.
(iv) Beggars and fakirs also frighten me.
(v) Then there are nasty monkeys and cats entering the kitchen through the half Closed door.
(vi) What will happen in case an earthquake comes or lightning strikes us?
And now write a poem of five or six lines with the “Whatifs” that you have listed.
Аnswers: Do it yourself
Short Type Questions
What does the poem Whatif talk about? Give a few examples of some of the child’s worries or cynical fears.
Аnswers: Children in general have some fears and worries. Their thinking can’t be rational or probable. The speaker gives a long list of some unusual situations or mishaps. These fears haunted her in sleep. She wondered what would happen if she lost her power to speak or got beat up, or got sick and died. Moreover she might fail/miss the test, or her hair grew green or she was struck by lightning, or a war broke out, and her parents got divorced. By morning she became normal again.
Who is the speaker in the poem Whatif? What is she worried about? Can you suggest ways to get rid of silly fears?
Аnswers: The speaker in the poem is a girl. She is haunted by fears and worries. These are related to her safety. There is no sequence or substance in her fears. Such baseless and absurd fears trouble us when we go to bed. These are like frightening dreams, only a cowardly or weak minded person entertains such fears. One can get rid of them if one tells oneself firmly to shed all worries.