Q. What does the young man mean by “great honey coloured/ Ramparts at your ear? Why does he say the young men are thrown into despair” by them?
Ans. ‘By the honey-coloured ramparts’, the young man means the golden coloured hair of the beloved hanging down over her ears. The locks of her hair are making a kind of defensive wall for her red lips, starry eyes and rosy cheeks. The young men are thrown into despair because they fall in love with the woman attracted by the beauty of her yellow hair. They think that the young woman might not respond to their love. Hence, the despair.
Q. What colour is the woman’s hair? What does she say she can change it to? Why would she want to do so?
Ans. The colour of the woman’s hair is yellow. She says that she can change it to brown, or black, or carrot. She wanted to do so to prove that a young lover loves the woman not for her yellow hair but for herself alone, i.e. as she is. Even if she changes the colour of her hair, he would still love her.
Q. Objects have qualities which make them desirable to others. Can you think of some objects (a car, a phone, a dress …..) and say what qualities make one object more desirable than other? Imagine you were trying to sell an object: what qualities would you emphasise?
Ans. Physical appearance, no doubt, has its own importance in this world. But the quality of a thing also matters very much. While selling an object, I would emphasise that the thing is beautiful and also has quality. Both appearance and quality are very important but appearances are often deceptive. So we should go by appearances alone. 4
Q. What about people? Do we love others because we like their qualities, whether physical or mental? Or is it possible to love someone “for themselves alone”? Are some people ‘more lovable’ than others? Discuss this question in pairs or in groups, considering points like the following:
- a parent or caregiver’s love for a newborn baby, for a mentally or physically challenged child, for a clever child or a prodigy?
- the public’s love for a film star, a sports person, a politician, or a social worker.
- your love for a friend, or brother or sister.
- your love for a pet, and the pet’s love for you.
We certainly love others because we like their qualities, whether these qualities are physical or mental? It is rarely possible to love someone for themselves alone’. In this category we can place a newborn baby, a brother, or a sister or a mentally and physically challanged child. But generally we love people for the qualities they possess. But there is no doubt that physical appearance also counts as, for example, in the case of film stars.
Q. You have perhaps concluded that people are not objects to be valued for their qualities or riches rather than for themselves. But elsewhere Yeats asks the question: How can we separate ‘the person himself or herself from how the person looks, sounds, walks and so on? Think of how you or a friend or member of your family has changed over the years. Has your relationship also changed? In what way?
Ans. W.B. Yeats has asked the question in the concluding part of his poem “Among School Children”. ‘How can we know a dancer, from the dance?’ That is to say a dancer, while he is dancing, can not be separated from his dance. Similarly, we cannot separate a person himself or herself from how the person looks, sounds, walks, and so on. We look at the personality of a person as a whole. It cannot be compartmentalised. Our relationship with a friend or member or our family will naturally change if the person has changed.