2. NIGHT MAIL (W.H. Auden)
CONTEXT: In this poem, the poet describes the journey of a night-mail that travels all night and brings mail for the people who live in various parts of the country. There are so many obstacles in its way but it always reaches on time. Nothing can disturb it. Even, the sheep dogs can not disturb it. However, when it passes through the fields, a jug lying in bed room shakes gently.
EXPLANATION: LINES 1 TO 4: The poet says that it is night mail. It crosses the borders to reach its destination. It brings postal orders, letters and cheque. It brings letters for the rich and the poor and the shopkeeper. It brings ordinary letters, business letters and love letters for the girl living at the next door. These letters are very important for every person. It is source of comfort and satisfaction for all types of people.
EXPLANATION: LINES 5 TO 8: In these lines, the poet says that the night mail starts its journey and stops at Beattock. It is a steady climb. It is the point where its speed becomes slower than its usual speed. It emits white smoke over it. There are also so many hurdles in its way. It passes by grassy fields of cotton and boulder in the countryside of rough grass but it does not get late and always reaches its destination on time.
EXPLANATION: LINES 9 TO 12: In these lines, the poet personifies the night mail and says that the night mail looks snorting as if it were angry. It passes by grassy fields. Sometimes, it covers many miles silently. When it comes, the birds sitting in the nests stare at its empty, inactive and lifeless coaches because they are without passengers but it has no effect of anything, continues its journey and reaches its destination on time.
EXPLANATION: LINES 13 TO 16: In these lines, the poet says that sheep dogs which are trained to take care of the sheep do not bark at the night mail when it comes. They have not the courage to change its course. They remain sleeping with their paws across. When it passes through the field, no one wakes and remains sleeping. However, a jug lying on a table shows some movement by its noisy movement.
Q.No.1: Who has written the poem, “The Night Mail?”
Answer: This poem has been written by W.H. Auden. He occupies an important place among the English writers. He is lively and provocative, skilled and ingenious.
Q.No.2: What kind of train has been depicted in the poem? OR What is a “Night Mail?” What is its function? OR Write a note on “Night Mail.”OR Explain the various duties that night main performs? OR What qualities of the Night Mail have been discussed in the poem? (FSD-09, GW-11, MN, LHR-11, SAR-10, 12, DGK-12, MUL-12)
Answer: In this poem, the poet has depicted the Night Mail. It is a postal train. It brings letters, cheques, and postal orders for the people. It meets many hurdles, but it always reaches on time.
Q.No.3: How do the birds and dogs react at the approach of the Night Mail? (LHR-09, BWP-08, 10, SAR, BWP, FSD-12, LR-06)
Answer: When the Night Mail approaches, the birds turn their heads and stare at its empty compartments. However, the sheep dogs keep on sleeping and do not bark at it.
Q.No.4: What happens when a train passes by a farm? (GW-10, BWP-11)
Answer: When the Night Mail passes by a farm, the people remain sleeping. However, a jug in the bed room shows some movement.
Q.No.5: What does the poet mean by “Blank-faced?” (SG-08, AJK-08)
Answer: Blank-faced means without any spirit or passion. So, blank-faced coaches mean that the coaches of the Night Mail have no passengers.