In this poem, Tagore has beautifully captured the emotions of a child who lost his mother in infancy and has only a faith recollection of her now. He cannot remember what his mother looked like or any other specific details about her but there are certain things, which he associates with her, which remind him of her. The first thing he remembers about her is the tune of a song she used to hum while rocking his cradle. He is reminded of it when he sees his playthings. Similarly, the scent of the shiuli flowers bring his mother to his mind. Probably his mother may have worn them in her hair or plucked them to offer in the temple. The smell of the incense sticks that comes from the temple also reminds him of his mother who probably burnt them while praying. He, however, feels closest it his mother when he looks up at the sky and feels as if his mother was gazing down from the heavens, keeping a loving watch on him. All this makes the poem very moving and emotional.
Read the extracts given below and answer the question that follow each:
I cannot remember my mother
Only sometimes in the midst of my play
A tune seems of hover over my playthings,
The tune of some song that she used to
Hum while rocking my cradle.
(a) Why do you think that the poet does not remember his mother?
(b) Where does the poet sense the tune?
(c) What is ‘tune’ all about?
(d) Explain: ‘seems to hover my plaything’.
Ans. (a) The poet probably lost his mother when he was rather young. So he cannot recollect her face.
(b) The poet sense the tune hovering over his toys or plaything when he plays with them.
(c) This ‘tune’ is actually about his mother. It is of the song she used to hum while rocking the cradle.
(d) The poet doesn’t remember his mother, as probably he was just an infant when she died. How-ever, a tune haunts him when he plays with his toys, etc. which was probably a song sung by his mother while rocking his cradle.
But when in the early autumn morning
The smell of shiuli flowers floats in the air
The scent of the morning service in the temple
Comes to me as the scent of my mother.
(a) When does the poet remember his mother? How is he reminded?
(b) What do you think the poet’s mother did with the shiuli flowers?
(c) Explain:’ the scent of the morning services in the temple’.
Ans.(a)The poet remembers his mothering the early autumn. Shiuli flowers grow in autumn. Their fragrance reminds the poet of his mother.
(b) She offered them in prayer in the morning service in the temple or wore them in her hair.
(c) The fragrance of the shiuli flowers and of the incense burnt in the temple.
I cannot remember my mother
Only when from my bedroom window I send
My eyes into the blue of the distant sky,
I feel that the stillness of my mother’s gaze on my face
Has spread all over the sky.
- Where does the poet look from the window /
- Why does the poet compare the mother’s gaze to the clear sky ?
- How does the poet recollect his mother while looking into the distant sky ?
Ans.(a) The poet looks into the distant blue sky from his bedroom window.
(b) On a clear day when the sky is peaceful and serene, the poet feels the presence of his mother and imagines that she is gazing down lovingly at him. He sees the same quality of stillness and peace in the clear sky.
(c) The poet recollects his mother through her silent gaze over his face and then spreading over the distant blue sky.
Where, when and how does the poet feel the presence of his mother?
Ans. The poet feels the presence of his mother almost in whatever he does. When he plays with his toys he feels a tune hover over them. This tune is of a song that his mother used to sing while she cradled him. When it is the early autumn morning, the smell of shiuli flowers in the air. The scent of the morning service in the temple comes to him. This ‘scent’ is of his mother. When he looks outside through his bedroom window, he feels the silent gaze of his mother on his face. He feels this has spread all over the sky.
What impression of the poet’s mother do you from? How?
Ans. The poet can’t remember exactly what his mother was like. However, he feels her in almost everything that he does. From this we can infer that the poet’s mother used to love the poet greatly. She used to cradle him to sleep when he was an infant. Secondly, she was a religious lady. She used to offer her prayers in the temple with shiuli flowers. His mother used to be a loving, understanding and kind-hearted woman. The poet feels that she is not dead. But she live in almost everything that belongs to the poet. She is always with him. She hovers over his plaything and toys everytime.