Q. What will counting up to twelve and keeping still help us achieve?
Ans. Counting up to twelve takes very short time. Keeping still for this brief interval of time gives us a momentary pause to introspect and review the course of action. It is generally observed that most of the ills and troubles of the world are caused by our rush or hurry. Violence is caused by anger. Keeping quiet and still will give us necessary respite and ensure peace.
Q. Do you think the poet advocates total inactivity and death?
Ans. No, he doesn’t advocate either total inactivity or death. He makes it quite clear that ‘stillness’ should not be confused with ‘total inactivity’ or equated to it. Total inactivity brings death. But Neruda has ‘no truck with death’. His stillness means halting of harmful and hostile human activities.
Q. What is the ‘sadness’ that the poet refers to in the poem?
Ans. Man’s sadness is formed out of his own actions and thinking. It is quite ironical that man who understands so much fails to understand himself and his action. Rash actions prove harmful and disastruous. His rush and hurry causes trouble. Man is the creator of all disasters. He is always threatening himself with death because of his thoughts and actions. This is the tragedy of his life.
Q. What symbol from Nature does the poet invoke to say that there can be life under apparent stillness?
Ans. The poet wants to prove that there can be life under apparent stillness. The poet invokes the earth as a living symbol to prove his point. The earth never attains total inactivity. Nature remains at work even under apparent stillness. It keeps earth alive. This idea is beautifully illustrated by the following lines:
“as when everything seems
dead and later proves to be alive.”