General English


By William Stafford


In this poem the poet describes how he was moved by the death of pregnant doe. Once he was driving a car along the mountain road at night. At the side of a Wilson River road he saw a deer. The road was narrow. So he thought it was best for the deer to move into the gorges formed by the river. He stopped his car and moved back to see the deer. She was a doe and she had recently been killed. Her body was already stiff and almost cold. He pulled her heavy body to the side. Her belly was large. It made him think that she was pregnant and her fawn was waiting inside. Although it was alive, it would never be born. He was filled with pity and was unwilling to do anything. The parking lights of the car were on and the engine was making a low continuous sound as if  it was expressing its pleasure. Its exhaust fume was warm and red and the poet was standing there. He felt as if  they cry in the wilderness was being heard. After thinking seriously, he pushed her into the river.

1. Explain the title of the poem. Who are all those travelling through the dark?

Ans: The tittle suggests that the speaker is driving his car in the dark place at night. All those who are travelling through the dark are motorist nature lovers who might have been there to watch the wild animals in a sanctuary. The narrow road indicates that it is not a highway or a motorway.

2. Show how the action develops stanza by stanza.

Ans: In the first stanza the speaker finds a deer on the road and wants to pull it to  the side. In the second one, he stops his car and walks back. In the rear light he sees a recently killed doe and drags her off. In the third stanza, he does not do anything but thinks of the fate of the fawn inside the deer doe. In the fourth stanza, he describes the activities of the machines in the midst of nature. In the last stanza, he pushes the doe into the river and there by solves the problem.

3. At what point does the physical action cease, to be replaced by another kind?

Ans: When thee speaker feels the large warm belly of the cold doe, the physical action stops and the mental action begins. He imagines the future of the fawn.

4. How do the last two lines complete both types of the action?

Ans: The last two lines complete both types of action: mental and physical. As he thinks hard on behalf of the nature lovers, he comes to the conclusions that he right place for the doe is the river. Then he throw the dead body into the river.

5. What is the meaning of the last two lines of the poem? Does the poem moralize?

Ans: The last two lines of the poem try to solve the problem of environment damage. Instead of worrying about the problem, one has to accept the things as they are. Or the poet may be satirising that the so- called nature-lovers are responsible for the environmental damage.

6. Do you think the reference to the alive but never-to-be born from fawn sentimental?

Ans: Yes, I think so. The speaker tries to  make the readers sad by imagining the fate of the unborn fawn.

7. Explain the meaning of the words "swerve" in line 4 and line 17. Does the speaker "swerve"?

Ans: In line 4, the word "swerve" means "to change the direction of the car suddenly to avoid colliding with the deer". In line 17, it means "to change from a idea or purpose". In line 4, he does not swerve because it might make the deer more dead," and in line 17, he swerve because he first he tries to preserve the dead body but later he changes his idea and throws her into river.

8. Stanza 4 is a break in the narrative. How do you explain its significance in the poem?

Ans: In the first three stanza, the speaker describes how he saw a deer. how he dragged her to the side and what he felt when he touched her side. But in the fourth stanza he does not say anything about the deer. He describes the car and her activities. There is a break in the narrative. It is quite significant in the poem because it gives a clear contrast between the animals and the machine. The animals with a life inside a dead, but the car looks life-like. Her fumes are warm whereas the doe is cold and stiffened

9. What is the tone of the poem: ironical, sympathetic, different?

Ans: The tone of the poem is ironical. That is, it says one things and means something different. We show our sympathy towards the unborn fawn but we do not show any love to the doe. We drive carelessly on the narrow road and kill the innocent animal.

10. Write s short essay on "Driving in the Dark"?

Ans: When you drive at night, you will have a great fun. If you are alone in your vehicle, the fun will be greater. You may be driving on the mountainous roads or on  the plains. If you are on the mountain, you will feel safer especially at the bending. You can see the light of the other vehicle coming towards you. If the same things takes place in the daytime, there is a chance that you may collide with it. But at the other vehicle can be seen from a distance. You can also see the twinkling cars or trucks. Very far, if you are on the hill, you can see the city or the village which you have either left or which you are going to.

            If you are driving in the jungle you will see a lot of wild animals. Since there are no people on the road at night, you feel freer and drive at the fastest possible speed. If you see a small animal in front, you will not swerve, because your vehicle might meet with an accident. You'd rather knock it over. At night there are no domestic animals to check your speed. If your eyesight is good enough you can enjoy the fastest driving on the straight road in the plains. The roads are sager especially after ten at night.

11. Are animals-both wild and domestic-a nuisance for the driver? Suggest what would you like to do about them?

Ans: Wild animals are a nuisance for the driver at night and the domestic animals at the daytime. At night you might be passing through the jungle. The headlights of your vehicle perhaps attract the wild animals. If the vehicle is heavy and the animal is small you are no more worried. You don't think it necessary to control your speed, you drive on. You don't change the direction suddenly because your vehicle may turn upside down. But if the animal is big enough, then it might give you a lot o trouble. You will have to think how you will be safe. So either you stop and let the animal go or you ,may turn back if necessary.

      Highways or motorways are constructed for driving at a very high speed. The domestic animals should not be allowed to be driven on the roads. Those who do so should be punished. The roads should not be constructed through the jungle. They should be built at side of the jungle and there should be a strong fence. Which prevents the wild animals from coming into the road. Both the drivers and the animals will be safe then. 

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