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Keeping Quiet – Important Questions



If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death

1.         Whom does ‘we’ refer to in the above lines?
2.         Why does the poet want us to ‘do nothing’ for once?
3.         What is the‘sadness’that the poet refers to in the poem?
4.         How can a huge silence do good to us?


Perhaps the Earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive
Now I’ll count upto twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

1.         What does the Earth teach us?
2.         What does the poet mean to achieve by counting upto twelve?
3.         What is the significance of ’keeping quiet’?
4.         What is always alive, even when everything seems to be dead?
5.         What does the Earth teach us?
6.         Why does the poet countupto twelve?
7.         What will keeping quiet help us achieve?
8.         How does the Earth teach us that there is activity even in apparent stillness?


It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

1.          What will happen if there is no rush or running of engines?
2.          Why would it be called an exotic moment?
3.          How would we feel at that moment?
4.          Name the poem and the poet.


Now we will count to twelve,
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the Earth,
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

1.         How long does the poet want to stay still?
2.         What does he hope to achieve by keeping quiet?
3.         What does the poet mean by “not move our arms so much”?
4.         Why does the poet suggest us not to speak in any language?
5.         Why does the poet want us to keep quiet?
6.         What does he want us to do for one second?
7.         What does he mean by “not move our arms”?
8.         How can this moment of stillness help us?


Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

1.         What does the poet expect of the fishermen and why?
2.         While gathering salt, what will the man do?
3.         What do the hurt hands imply?
4.         How would man and nature benefit in this moment of silence?




1.         Which is the exotic moment that the poet refers to in ‘Keeping Quiet’?
2.         What is the sadness that the poet refers to in the poem ‘Keeping Quiet’?
3.         Which images in the poem ‘Keeping Quiet’ show that the poet condemns violence?
4.         What symbol from nature does the poet use to prove that keeping quiet is not total
inactivity?
5.         How, according to Neruda, can keeping quiet change our attitude to life?
6.         What are the different kinds of wars mentioned in the poem? What is Neruda’s attitude towards these wars?
7.         How can suspension of activities help?
8.         Do you think the poet advocates total inactivity and death?
9.         According to the poet, what is it that human beings can learn from nature?
10.       What will ‘counting upto twelve’ and ‘keeping quiet’ help us to achieve?
11.       What does the title of the poem suggests to you? What do you think the poem is about?
12.       The poet longs for a dream world. What kind of a world does he visualise?








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