NCERT Class 11 English The Tale of the Melon City

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The Tale of Melon City

In the city of which I sing

There was a just and placid King.

The King proclaimed an arch should be

Constructed, that triumphally

                                                             Would span the major thoroughfare

                                                             To edify spectators there.

                                                             The workmen went and built the thing.

                                                             They did so since he was the King.

The King rode down the thoroughfare

To edify spectators there.

Under the arch he lost his crown.

The arch was built too low. A frown

                                                              Appeared upon his placid face.

                                                              The King said, ‘This is a disgrace.

                                                              The chief of builders will be hanged.’

                                                              The rope and gallows were arranged.

The chief of builders was led out.

He passed the King. He gave a shout,

‘O King, it was the workmen’s fault’

‘Oh!’ said the King, and called a halt 

                                                              To the proceedings. Being just

                                                              (And placider now) he said, ‘I must

                                                              Have all the workmen hanged instead.’

                                                             The workmen looked surprised, and said,

‘O King, you do not realise

The bricks were made of the wrong size.’

‘Summon the masons!’ said the King.

The masons stood there quivering.

                                                                 ‘It was the architect...’, they said,

                                                                  The architect was summoned.

                                                                  ‘Well, architect,’ said His Majesty.   

                                                                   ‘I do ordain that you shall be

Hanged.’ Said the architect, ‘O King,

You have forgotten one small thing.

You made certain amendments to

The plans when I showed them to you.’

                                                              The King heard this. The King saw red.

                                                               In fact he nearly lost his head;

                                                               But being a just and placid King

                                                               He said, ‘This is a tricky thing.

I need some counsel. Bring to me

The wisest man in this country.’

The wisest man was found and brought,

Nay, carried, to the Royal Court.


1. Narrate ‘The Tale of Melon City’ in your own words.

2. What impression would you form of a state where the King was ‘just and placid’?

3. How, according to you, can peace and liberty be maintained in a state?

4. Suggest a few instances in the poem which highlight humour and irony.

5. ‘The Tale of Melon City’ has been narrated in a verse form. This is a unique style which lends extra charm to an ancient tale. Find similar examples in your language. Share them in the class.

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