A Psalm of Life : ICSE Class 10 Questions and Answers

Question 1 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act-act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!”

i) Why should be not trust the future?

Answer : We should not trust the future even tough it may seem pleasant because future is never fixed. We never know what we might face in our future. So, the poet says that it’s better to live in the present because the present is in our hands.

ii) How should we treat our past? Why?

Answer : We should bury our past completely, like we bury dead people who cannot return to our present and future. This is necessary because if we bear our past along with us, we will never be able to progress in the present and future. The past is dead and useless.

iii) How does the poet as us about the ‘Present’?

Answer : The poet asks us to act courageously in the present and never lose faith in God. He says that people should bury their pasts and move on in life with new vigour and freshness. Our present is a beautiful gift and we should not ruin it by thinking about the past.

iv) What is the secret to success?

Answer : The secret of success is that we should let go of our past, live and act in the present and never trust our future however pleasant it might be. We should place our faith completely in God and continue to strive effortlessly. A wise man makes his present strong and bright by working day and night without rest and having firm faith in the justice of God.

v) What role does God play in a person’s life? What should man do?

Answer : God plays the most important role in a person’s life. He makes one work towards success even if there are obstacles in one’s path. Man should place his faith whole heartedly in God. Only then will he be able to confidently work and achieve great heights.

Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each tomorrow 

Find us farther than today.”

i) Explain the line, “Is our destined end or way”.

Answer : In this line, the poet says enjoyment or sorrow are not the destined end or way of living. Our lives should not be based just on enjoyment or mourning. Instead, our aim in life should be to act wisely each day so that we can create a better future.

ii) What is important to us when we are born in this world?

Answer : When we are born in this world, it is important to us that we should complete the task assigned to us by our creator and instead of shirking work, we should continue working in a way that we might make steady progress.

iii) How is enjoyment and sorrow not our destined ‘end’ or ‘way’?

Answer : Enjoyment and sorrow are not our destined end or way because our lives are not just based on how we enjoy things or how much sad we are. Instead, the more purposeful thing in life is to act wise and create a good future. The real aim of life is to advance, to go higher in every field of life and to make glorious events.

iv) Name the poem and the poet. What should a person do according to the poet?

Answer : The name of the poem is ‘A Psalm of Life’. The name of the poet is ‘Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’. A person should not let his life be dictated by how much joy or sorrow he feels, but instead he must strive towards perfection and make his future better. The real value of life lies in the labour that we put in everyday for a better future.

v) How should our future be? What can we do to brighten it?

Answer : Our future should be wise and bright without the governance of enjoyment and sorrow. In order to brighten it, we should continue to achieve great heights and strive towards perfection. We should act wisely so that our tomorrow is better than our today. We should engage ourselves in thoughts and actions of high seriousness. We must try to make improvements and achievements to justify our existence as human beings.

Question 3 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.”

i) What message does the poet want to convey here?

Answer : The message which the poet wants to give is that one should not sorrowfully say that life is an empty, meaningless dream. He believes that a soul that wastes its time sleeping is inactive and does not contribute to the welfare of society, is not better than a dead person.

ii) Explain the line, “Life is but an empty dream!”

Answer : This line means that some people often complain that life is meaningless and empty. The poet rebukes them and says that life is not an empty dream and it is their soul which is sleeping. They should wake up and live life fruitfully otherwise they will be nothing more than dead people.

iii) What happens to the person who whiles away his life?

Answer : A person who whiles away his time in unnecessary things never achieves great heights and is good as a dead person. He never engages in fruitful activities and calls life meaningless.

iv) What are ‘mournful numbers’?

Answer : ‘Mournful numbers’ are the sorrowful ways in which people complain that life has no meaning. Mournful numbers here refers to the verses with a sad tone and content. Life is worthless and purposeless for one who is inactive and dull. They should not take life lightly; instead they should always strive towards perfection and try to create a better future.

v) Do you think the poet is right in saying this? Give your opinion.

Answer : Yes, the poet is right in saying that life is what we make it. If we keep procrastinating then we won’t be able to enjoy the little moments of happiness that life has to offer us. We should not be sorrowful and keep complaining about life being meaningless and empty. Life seems meaningful and hopeless depending on what we make it.

Question 4 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Life is real! life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust thou returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.”

i) Explain the line, “Life is real! Life is earnest!”

Answer : In this line, the poet wants to say that life is real and serious. It should not be treated lightly. Death is not life’s goal and life does not end with death. With death, only our body ends and not our soul. So, we should always engage in work that creates our memory in the world.

ii) What are poet’s views on ‘life’?

Answer : The poet believes that life is serious and real gift nature has bestowed on us. We should not spend it in procrastination. We should not wait for death to overcome us. Instead, we should do things which make our lives memorable.

iii) Do you agree with the poet that the grave is not the goal of life? Why?

Answer : Yes, Death is not the ultimate goal of life. Our aim in life should be to make it most beautiful before death arrives. We should do things in life which make our future better and create a happy environment for everyone.

iv) How should one lead his life?

Answer : One should lead one’s life with seriousness and not take it lightly. Death is not the ultimate goal of life. Our aim in life should be to make it most beautiful before death arrives. We should do things in life which make our future better and create a happy environment for everyone.

v) Do you agree with what the poet says? Why?

Answer : Yes, the poet is right in saying that life is a very precious gift and we must make the most out of it. The poet says that life is not made to embrace death ultimately. Instead, it is made to fulfil one’s aspirations, tasks and responsibilities on our way to death. It is the body which dies, not the soul. We should consider life as a journey of achievement and find fulfillment in action.

Question 5 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.

“Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.”

i) What is the key message in the above lines?

Answer : The key message in the above lines is that we should begin at once, with courage, without thinking about the consequences of the actions. We should continue to pursue and achieve goals, learn to work hard and to wait for the rewards.

ii) Explain the line, “With a heart for any fate.”

Answer : The line means that one should begin at once, with courage, and with a heart to face any kind of fate, whether good or bad. We should just keep our faith in God and continue on our ways. We should equally behave in success or failure. Neither we should be overwhelmed with joy and proud at our success nor should we feel disheartened at our failure.

iii) Why is the poet asking to ‘wait’? Do you think one should wait? Why?

Answer : The poet is asking us to wait for our rewards patiently because only then we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our hard labour. Yes, one should patiently for results because only then we can know the worth of things.

iv) What does hard work result in?

Answer : Hard work results in fruitful rewards. When we work hard ,we get attached to our work and can wait patiently for the right reward. We should learn to labour and wait, according to the poet.

v) What does the poet say about the lives of great men? Why should we follow them?

Answer : The poet says that great men remind us that we can make our lives noble and elevated. When we die, we can leave behind our noble deeds as examples for other people to follow. But for this, we need to learn ourselves fro the examples of great men. The noble deeds should be such that even an unhappy man might become confident and happy, following our example.