Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Roadside Stand by Robert Frost


A note: I stopped teaching CBSE 5 years ago and I'm out of touch. So I haven't really worked on the explanations and edited them. You might find some of the explanations not up to the mark especially this poem. You will surely find better explanations on the net. One such site recommended by one of the readers which is really good and tailor made for CBSE is http://englishportal12.blogspot.in/?view=mosaic 

In this poem, the poet contrasts the lives of poor and deprived countryside people who struggle to live, with the thoughtless city people who don’t even bother to notice the roadside stand that these people have put up to sell their goodies.

Lines 1 to 6
The poem starts with the description of the roadside stand and the intention behind it. A small time farmer builds a vegetable stand at the edge of the highway outside his house in the hope that passing cars would buy the produce and earn a bit of the money that supports cities from falling into ruin. He only wants to earn a living, he is not begging for money.

Lines 7 to 13
However, no cars ever stop and the ones that even glance in the direction of the stand without any feeling of compassion or relatedness (out of sorts) only comment about how the construction spoils the view of the surroundings or how badly painted the wrongly pointed North and South signs are or to notice without interest the wild berries and squash for sale in the stand or the beautiful mountain scene.

Lines 13 to 22
The farmer tells the rich travelers to keep their money if they meant to be mean and that the hurt to the view is not as important as the sorrow he feels on being ignored. He only wishes for some (city) money so that he may experience the plush life (make our beings expand) portrayed by the movies and other media, which the political parties are said to be refusing him.

Lines 23 to 31
Frost goes on to say that even though these people have benefactors (good-doers), who plan to relocate them in villages where they can have easy access to the cinema and the store, they are actually selfish (‘greedy good-doers’ and ‘beasts of prey’) and only help these "pitiful kin" to indirectly advantage themselves. The altruists wish to make these villagers completely dependent on them for all their benefits and comforts, thus robbing them of the ability to think for themselves and be independent. 'The ancient way' could mean the old way when people worked during the day and slept at night. This is being reversed by the new 'greedy good doers' who teach these people to not use their brain. They are unable to sleep at night because they haven't worked during day time or because they are troubled by their new lifestyle.

Lines 32 to 43
Frost then talks about his personal feelings, saying that he can hardly bear the thought of the farmer's dashed hopes. The open windows of the farmer's house seem to wait all day just to hear the sound of a car stopping to make a purchase. However they are always disappointed, as vehicles only stop to enquire the price, to ask their way ahead, to reverse or ask for a gallon of gas. 'The polished traffic' refers to the rich class who drive their cars to their destinations (with a mind ahead) probably to another city unmindful of the countryside roadside stand and if at all they did get distracted by the countryside (if ever aside a moment) they seemed out of place in it (out of sorts).

Another explanation for theses words given by classmate in yahoo answers seems to make better sense. (http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100303014238AAyfWnz)

Clearly "out of sorts" does not mean "out of place." It means "annoyed." The drivers see the roadside stand with its clumsy, hand-painted signs as a blemish on the rural landscape they're driving through.

By calling the traffic "polished," Frost is stressing a contrast that is central to the poem -- the shiny vehicles driven by well-to-do city folk vs. the unsophisticated, semi-literate, "artless" stand set up by an impoverished farmer.


Lines 44 to 51
According to the poet, the progress required has not been found by these country folk (“the requisite lift of spirit"). Their lifestyles provide ample evidence to support this fact. He sometimes feels that it might be best to simply put these people out of their pain and hardships of existence. However, once rational thinking returns to his mind, he wonders how HE would feel if someone offered to do him this supposed service.
Wolfer, one of the readers ahs this pertinent comment:
Because the greedy good doers are robbing them of their ability to think during the day and they sleep throughout the day, so they are unable to sleep at night(as is the ancient custom) because they aren't sleepy anymore.




If you think this explanation has helped you, kindly donate money to the orphanage for girls that my friend runs. You can know about it at https://sites.google.com/site/annaineomianbuillam/

120 comments:

Karuna Das said...

Thank a lot. You really helped me out a lot. I was searching for a detailed summaru of this poem.

Abe Pat said...

Thanks for ur comment. It was very encouraging. By the way i taught at Assam Valley School, near Tezpur for six years about 5 years back

Nat said...

Thanks for this. I have an exam tomorrow and i didnt know where to look for a good summary of this poem. yours helped quite a lot. Its quite well nailed too. thank you!

Abe Pat said...

thanks nat for the compliment

Soumyo said...

Again, thanks a lot. This really helped.
Could you please also explain this part:
" And by teaching them how to sleep they sleep all day,
Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way."

I get the part about them not having to use their brains anymore; is this line referring to the same? If so, what is the "ancient way"?
Thanks again for all these posts.

Abe Pat said...

'The ancient way' could mean the old way when people worked during the day and slept at night. This is being reversed by the new 'greedy good doers' who teach these people to not use their brain. They are unable to sleep at night because they haven't worked during day time or because they are troubled by their new lifestyle. a bit difficult to interpret these lines , I guess. I hope I have made sense.

Anonymous said...

That was a perfect interpretation . Thank you very much

Tamanna said...

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I wouldnt have passed in my boards if it wasnt for u . .
I love you . . .
Kol me . . 9811555995

kp said...

Thank u so much.
Its rlly helpful.
Keep up d good work Sir.
Regards.
kp.

Abe Pat said...

thanks for all the compliments. i'm glad the blog was a great help.
i hope the english exam was ok. unfortuntely i changed jobs n i don't know how the exams were. the school i taught in followed functional english. it seemed to have been easy for them. core english, i've no idea!

Harjinderpal said...

dear sir
thanks a lot
there is a request going your way
kindly explain all the poems in cbse xii syllabus

Anonymous said...

your explanations are extremely helpful. I have just started teaching XI and XII and always looking for more material for the students. Could you please give some insight into 'The Interview' and 'Going Places'. Will be thankful.

Grateful

Raghav said...

Thank u sir for the summary.....its way batter than any of the guides ive seen....this is definately helpin my english midterms. thanks again

Noor said...

thank u sir!
this summary has helped me finish my notes!
keep up the good work! we students honor you!

chhavi said...

sir
i had a query.in the last line of the poem, isn't the poet talking about his feeling if someone comes to alleviate his own personal pain he is suffering due to his tragic life

ibrahim said...

sir the explanation of the poem is which u hav given is a little bit diffrent from the explanation given by my teacher so but hers a liitle tough to understand so wht shld i do

MARY said...

Hello Sir
You're doing great with all the interpretations you offer, i'm sure many students benefit from this service. However i was wondering if i can post some of my interpretations or discuss a few ideas now and then, since i'm an english teacher in a cbse school. i look forward to your response.

thanks.
Mary.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for your valuable guidance. It really helped me a lot.
S.P.SINGH
K.V. CHIRIMIRI

Anonymous said...

its a very well written piece. thanks. but i have a question to put up, why does the poet feel for these people when they want money to live a luxurious life, i mean its not like they need the money for subsistence.

Gayathri said...

thank you sir
thank you very much for giving such a good summary of dis poem

Haya said...

Thank you for this explanation.This has helped to prepare for my English Exam tommorrow.Could you please give similar explanations for all the poems for Clas 12th?I would be very grateful to you if you do so.Thanks a million again!.

Anonymous said...

thank u....the summary is very easy to understand...n at last i have understood the poem really well

Bhanu said...

thnx a lot sir.
cud u plz explain the meaning of "It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread"
&
"childish longing"

Anonymous said...

thank u so muchh...it really helpd a lott .....!!!

sanan kashyap said...

i had pssed my 10th from an icse school.i took cbse english a bit lightly.it began to screw me up,but ultimately i googled thru ur site.it was really the best dope before xam.i really had no formal class of english in 12th.
i manangd 99 marks in the final xam.
thanxxxx a lot sir.
sir please go thru my blog www.maverickteen.blogspot.com and please suggest some suitable editing for the first poem that i composed.my email id hamiltonian.san123@gmail.com

Nikz said...

Thanks a lot for the awesome explaination. It really helped.

Can you please explain these lines though "The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead, or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts"

MEERA NAIR said...

Thnx a ton 4 d xplanation sir! it'll b reeeely helpful if u could xplain the poem 'A THING OF BEAUTY'by JOHN KEATS.

GOD BLESS

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot!!!

ShaSha said...

Thanks a ton! It's very helpful :)

Krishna said...

Oh man......it really help'd me out 'coz wen ya're a day away frm d boards 'nd wen ya seem 2 b all blown off,u guyz rlly show up wid awsum remedies........thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Really useful blog.

tuhin roy said...

thanxx a lot for such a gud explanation of this poem...i never took the pain to understand this poem...and today i had my eng. board xams...and it was all very good....bcos i had gone thru your xplanation of this poem which i went thru yesterday..keep up the gud work...sir!!!

sharankumar(rgukt) said...

This is very useful website for me and I learn summaries from this website. thanks a lot sir
I want summary of Thing of Beauty sir

Anonymous said...

thank you sir this is very usefull to us.

Akshay S Dinesh said...

thanks

ajju said...

thanks a lot sir . it was very encourging

Murali said...

Dear Sir

I am a parent , my sincere thanks to your good summary explanation .
this helped us a lot in quickly understanding the poem .'
great service.

Murali G

bj ram * said...

Hi Sir
I really like to appreciate your brilliant efforts to present the summary of the poem dealing each and every point. Hope it would benefit the learners.

B.J. Ram
P.G.T ENGLISH
NEW DELHI

Amulya said...

Thanks a ton !! your summary helped me a lot !! i have an exam tomorrow and i didn't have my classwork with me and i was in a fix what to do .. !! but with god's grace i found this website .. !! Thanks again !! :)

Anonymous said...

thanx alot.....lost my bbc so this was a gud substitute.

Dharini said...

Thank you. I had missed a couple of English classes and had found some parts of the poem hard to understand. Your post was extremely helpful...

Anonymous said...

That was very helpful, Thankyou!:)

Mohnaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohnaa said...

awesum analysis! truly!
a lyf saviour 4 me as i hv my final xam 2moro!
d work is rele commendable n it has actually helped me understnd wot xactly dis Frost wantd 2 say...
thnx a ton..

conscience said...

Thank you....
this post was really helpful....could you please explain me these lines "sometimes i feel myself i can hardly bear
the thought of so much childish longing in vain"

fathima said...

thank u sir for helping me in my eng. exam by giving a good summary for this poem.

fathima said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aqib said...

Thanks.Keep up the good work!

ms.perfect : sheenam said...

Too good.
Just a reader friendly language to understand the poem.
Thumbs up.
Godblessyou.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to see this explanation
Thanks a lot!!!
Superb!!! Wow!!!

Anonymous said...

pls expln d lyn " of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned wrong"

Deeksha said...

hello sir, summary of roadside stand was very helpful i also need summary of "A thing of beauty by john keats". plz can you help me.

abhijit kamal said...

being a part of d skul band i wasn't able to attend my eng classes.. huh!!
bt thanx 2 u guyz for providing an awsum summary keep rocking \m/

Anonymous said...

sir
i appreciate the way u've unfolded it for us ...
but i would like to make a small amendment in your explanation to the lines "destroy their sleep the ancient way"..
according to me it means that the poet uses a satiric remark by saying that the method used by the rich people in luring the poor and enforcing standards is a very old and tested method and is used yet again by the rich.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot sir. m appearing for xam 2day. it was realy useful....

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot sir! Really helped!

Anonymous said...

could anyon help me by elaborating this phrae"out of their wits"

dreams of life said...

thank u vry much.....it is really helpful.......

dreams of life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kavya said...

thank you so much sir..this poem was very confusing..now i can study for my physics paper with ease..:)

Anonymous said...

thanks a ton :)..dis has really helped me a lot :)..could u please elaborate the lines 44-51 :)

Jasmine said...

That was a really good summary Sir with a lot of insight. Very good interpretation. Thank you

Anonymous said...

sir please can u give notes on a thing of beauty??

Anonymous said...

sir can u please tell me the meaning of line "i can't help owning to great relief it would be. to put these people at one stroke out of their pain.?
Is it something like that we all always think that our solitarity won't be a great relief to them.However, this is not true. Even a little help given to poor is great relief?
regards
smriti

Abhishek said...

Thanx for d summary................really helpful

Premila Nelson said...

'The ancient way'could also mean that from times immemorial the poor have been exploited in the same way as the rural folk are by the greedy good doers, thus depriving them of peaceful sleep.The bodies ache from the day's toil thus destroying their sleep at night. Hope this is fine too.

Anu pallavi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anu pallavi said...

What a wonderful Explanation.I have an exam tomorrow and i am very confident.Thanks a lot sir! It was very very helpful.Keep the wonderful work going.I am sure it helps quite a lot of students who sit with their book the night before the exam and expect a wonderful and an easy reading experience ;).thanks a million.

Anonymous said...

thank u very much .. you have brought me out from the midst of doubt

Anonymous said...

thak you for the summary of poem
from
www.cybertechmasters.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

that was a lot helpful . thnx a lot

Anonymous said...

sir can u please put up the summary of keeping quiet by pablo neruda ? PLEASE !

Anonymous said...

Thanks sir! It is a complete and awesome explanation.
I have my pre-board exam tomorrow and this is a great help.

blogger0011 said...

i visited assam valley school for the east india debate last year.its a great school!thanks for the explanation ,sir.its to the point.

Anonymous said...

Thank u so much sir, u clearly made me undrstn the poem much mr dn those guides for englsh. I am frm Assam , i wl b gvin HSSLC this tym, just 2 days left fo xms, thanks a ton sir.

Anonymous said...

u r really a fraud....u hve copied the content from some nuisance website n then pasted here....all the meanings are wrong....jst shame on u!!! ur summary fr an elementary school is a result of your failure in english.....jst go to hell!!!!

Abe Pat said...

Hi anonymous,
When you accuse somebody, you must have proof. You have accused me of copying from website. Could you say which website? You say all the meanings are wrong. I'd be very happy if you can send me the "correct" meaning of the poem since you seem to "know" and "have" the correct meaning. My email id is available in my profile. (abepat@gamil.com) You are nobody to judge whether I'm a failure in English. Anyway, according to your highness' high standard of judgement almost 99.9% people would be a failure in English.

Abe Pat said...

Also please read my acknowledgement where i have acknowledged the role played by websites to write these notes

Anonymous said...

ah a perfect explanation!
i actually have my board exam on 1t n was looking for an understandable explanation of the poem...well you did the job!
thanks a tonne!
-Bhaeravi

GREETSARKAR said...

thank you sir...this poem was driving me crazy...i have my boards day after tomorr
ow..

Anitta jose said...

Thanks a lot..........
its really good.

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot sir...........m glad sm1 supprts my xplanatn 4 dis poem....my english tchr sucks

Anonymous said...

Thanks a ton!! Amazingly written!

Akshay Sharma said...

i very well appreciate wat u r doing by posting these summary....keep up the good work man thumbs up fr u

Anonymous said...

thanks a loooot

Anonymous said...

THANK A LOT
GOD BLESS YOU

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot sir. I was battling with the last four lines and got your help just one day before my board exams.
Thanks again.

Wolfer said...

Sir, as for the part about destroying sleep the ancient way, what i think is as follows:

Because the greedy good doers are robbing them of their ability to think during the day and they sleep throughout the day, so they are unable to sleep at night(as is the ancient custom) because they aren't sleepy anymore.

CUMSHOT LEGEND said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ganeshwar Behera said...

Thank u sir....it really helped me a lot, i was searching 4 sumthing that cud giv me sum knowledge and direction about this poem.......

Anand said...

JUST AWESOME

Anonymous said...

I was totally clueless about this poem! Thanks a ton!

Saurabh Goyal said...

mr abe i don't know y does cbse put in poems if it doesn't want us to read them as they are
first thing- thank you, ur interpretation is as it is,
everywhere i am accessing the last para has been changed and the stroke to put poor out of their misery has been explained as supernatural phenomenon to alleviate the poor's poverty-sigh!

Sandeepak said...

thank A lot this was VERRRRRRRy useful to me!!!!

Sandeepak said...

thanks a lot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adhishri said...

Thank you so much, sir.

it must have helped many of the students like me who have their 12th board exam the very next day. :P

thanks, again. :)

Abhishek Agarwal said...

thank you sir! your blog heplped a lot. 2moro i have a exam, hope it will be good...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping me.Thanks a lot 4 dis detailed summary...........

Arush said...

The villagers' conscience is not clear, as they are receiving benefits that they have not earned. This could also be why the villagers can not sleep 'the ancient way', that is, when their conscience was clean.
And Sir, amazing job.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the summary. It really helped.
One thing, though. In lines 23 to 31, it's written that the "altruists" rob them of the ability to think for themselves. Doesn't "altruist" mean a person who sacrifices for others, or who helps others?

Anirudh Sai said...

Thanks sir
it was really helpful for an IB student.
It would be much more helpful if you can add the text of the poem in your future explanations.

SANA said...

SIR,
THANKU FOR THIS SUMMARY IT HELPED ME ALOT FOR MY EXAM WHICH IS 2MMROW

D.D. said...

this poem was driving me crazy with its huge stanzas...thank you Sir for explaining it in a way i could understand the poem better.

Anonymous said...

sir ,
what does the open window refer to,
and what is the sadness that lurks near the window.?

KARTHIKA S said...

i t's a really good summary!!!!!! thanks alot :)

Anu said...

thank you sir.

Anonymous said...

Well explained, deeply explained ,indepth summary of the poem.
Thanks a lot for explaining the poem .

Anonymous said...

Sir,what does "flower of the cities" refer to?

goutham rangarajan said...

nice explanation sir.
I'd like to know the summary of the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner by ST coleridge

Skidrow said...

This summary helped a lot to me when i needed it most.

Anonymous said...

thnku sir.. It was very helpful ...

Jay Vyas said...

your explanation was a great help to me !!

Anonymous said...

sir ! you have used a word ''altruist'' (which refers to those who help others) for the political officers, so does it mean they are pretending to help these poor people
but indeed they are trying to get benefit out of them ! please comment.

otherwise thank you sir for such a wonderful explanation.

god bless!!

Anonymous said...

Sir can u please post the explanation for 'keeping quiet' and 'a thing of beauty'...and this one was simply awesome Thank you !

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot sir it helped me a lot....before my exams...

sam fisher said...

the last para is harder than the poem itself....
didn't like the explanation..
wikiansers has better summary...

sam fisher said...

the last para is harder than the poem itself....
didn't like the explanation..
wikiansers has better summary...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping me to understand the text better.

Anonymous said...

bakwas

Bhupesh Soni said...

it is the best possible summary of the poem