To The Cuckoo Summary Notes

To The Cuckoo Author

“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…. recollected in tranquility…”, always reminds us of Wordsworth, a prominent Romantic poet in English Literature. He was born on 7th April 1770 at Cockermouth in Cumberland. He lost his mother, Anne, at the age of eight and his father, John Wordsworth at the age of fourteen. Then he grew up with his maternal family. He studied in a grammar school in a village called Hawkshead. The science he was a lover of Nature, he wrote a number of poems on nature. Thus, he was known as ‘the priest of Nature.’ He is famous for ‘An Autobiographical Memoranda’ his best-known collections of poems are ‘LyricalBallads’, ‘The Prelude’ and ‘Descriptive Sketches. His much-read poem all over the world is ‘Tintem Abbey’, a mirror to his views on Nature. The present poem, ‘To the Cuckoo’, is a faithful record of the poet’s state of mind at the time of hearing the bird’s song.”

To The Cuckoo Summary

The poem ‘To the Cuckoo ’ is a short lyrical ballad written by the English poet William Wordsworth in 1802 and extracted from his “Poems in Two volumes”

The poet William Wordsworth was lying on the grassy meadow, enjoying the natural surroundings, of the place. Suddenly he hears the two-fold call of a cuckoo reverberating somewhere nearby. He tries to get a glimpse of the wondrous bird, but it is elusive. He recalls the carefree days of his childhood when he had first heard its voice. He had tried to trace the bird through its sweet voice singing, over the woods and valleys, but he had never found the bird.

The poem has been written in admiration and glorification of the cuckoo. The cuckoo becomes a symbol of beauty, innocence, and childhood for the poet.
Later in his life when the poet, again hears the voice of the cuckoo, he is inspired to write a poem on it.
“O Blithe New Comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice
O Cuckoo shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering voice?”
In the first stanza of the poem, the poet addresses the cuckoo as a ‘blithe newcomer!’ According to him, the bird leads a happy and carefree life unlike him. He has heard the bird’s voice before and it still haunts his memory and he feels happy after hearing it sing. He wonders if he should consider it as a bird or just a ‘wandering voice’ which gives the bird the ability to be free and wander about in the woods, without any restrictions. He is sad that human beings lead a restricted life.
“While I am lying on the grass
Thy twofold shout I hear;
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off and near”
At present when the poet is lying on the grass immersed in nature, he again hears its ‘twofold call’. The bird never gets tired of singing. It seems to Wordsworth that the bird’s cry is echoing all around the hills, surrounding the meadows. The cuckoo wanders from hill to hill and they seem to reverberate with its voice. The poet feels that the whole place is submerged in its song.
“Though babbling only to the vale
Of sunshine and of flowers
Thou bringest unto me a tale
Of visionary hours”
In the stanza, the poet again addresses the bird. According to him, the cuckoo is not a mere ‘babbler’. Its songs have a special meaning attached to them than one would perceive. He feels that the cuckoo does not merely sing meaningless songs. Its voice carries tales about ‘sunshine and of flowers. Hence the poet feels that the cuckoo tells stories of ‘visionary hours’ (Memories) or times from the past. The cuckoo’s song has an attachment to Wordsworth’s past.
“Thrice welcome, the darling of the spring!”
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing
A voice, a mystery”
In this stanza, the poet writes that he is eager and more than happy to welcome the bird (darling of the spring). The poet had not yet been able to have a glimpse of the bird, but he can only hear its sweet voice. As it is the cuckoo is heard more in springtime and the poet had heard the bird sing only ‘thrice’ in his life.

The poet had actually never seen the cuckoo in his life. To him, the bird is yet a mysterious voice. It is still invisible to him, but its voice can still provoke strange emotions and memories in him.
“The same whom in my schoolboy days
I listened to; that cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky”
In these lines, the poet takes us back to his childhood days. The poet recalls from his vivid memory that the cuckoo’s voice is the same he had heard in his childhood days. As a boy, when he had heard the cuckoo- sing, he was so enchanted by its voice, that he had pursued the voice and looked for the source of the voice in a thousand places, in the bushes, trees, and in the sky. But the bird was elusive to him
“To seek thee did I often rove ’
Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen”
Again the poet writes that he did not give up his search for the cuckoo. He was so inspired by its enchanting voice, he would often ‘rove’-wander-over the hills and meadows in search for it. The poet was deeply attached to the cuckoo’s voice, it was more than just a sweet and beautiful voice.

The poet recalls that the bird was- ‘wert’, elusive to him even in his childhood and was still elusive to him now, but he truly wanted to find it and still cherished a hope to have a glimpse of it.
The poet reveals that this search for the elusive cuckoo, is still, ‘a love’ of his life and yearns to have a glimpse of it.
“And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again”
In the present, the poet can still, only hear the Cuckoo singing while he lay on the grass in the meadow. He can lie on the grass hearing its sweet voice until he is able to ‘beget’- produce the memories of what he considers his ‘golden time’ yet again. The poet considers his carefree childhood days as ‘golden time’ and to be the best of his life. The Cuckoo’s sweet enduring voice is able to draw out his memories and the emotions attached to them.
O blessed Bird! The earth we pace
Again appears to be”
An unsubstantial; faery place,
That is, fit home for thee!”
In these lines, the poet addresses the cuckoo as a blessed bird. The poet feels that this earth on which human beings ‘pace’- tread, again appears to be an unreal- ‘unsubstantial’, ‘faery place’ – fairyland. But he thinks that this earth is an ideal home for the cuckoo to dwell.

Maybe the poet feels that the presence of the cuckoo, which sings in a sweet voice, makes this earth an ideal place for us to dwell This dynamic and versatile earth is the perfect dwelling for the cuckoo as he is also unpredictable like the earth. This cuckoo evokes the poet’s childhood memories once again, but the bird itself is invisible to him.

To The Cuckoo Glossary

Blithe          : happy, cheerful
Rejoice       : be cheerful, merry
Thee           : you
Babbling    : the action or fact of talking rapidly and continuously in a foolish or exciting way
Vale           : valley
Thou          : you
Art             : are
Mystery     : secret
Rove          : roam, wander about
Faery         : fanciful

To The Cuckoo Questions & Answers

Comprehension

Question 1.
Why did the poet rejoice?
Answer:
The poet rejoiced because he heard the sweet voice of a Cuckoo echoing somewhere nearby.

Question 2.
In what different ways does the poet want to address the Cuckoo?
Answer:
The poet Wordsworth addresses the cuckoo as ‘Blithe new comer’, ‘O cuckoo, a wandering voice’, ‘O blessed Bird’, ‘Darling of the spring’, ‘an invisible thing’, ‘a voice’, ‘a mystery’.

Question 3.
What sort of sounds does the poet hear?
Answer:
The poet hears the Cuckoo’s voice echoing in the hills. He hears the Cuckoo singing somewhere near and again somewhere far away he hears the cuckoo babbling only to the vale.

Question 4.
The cuckoo brings ________ to the poet.
Answer:
‘a tale of visionary hours’ (Memories of his childhood days).

Question 5.
Where does the poet look for the bird ‘a thousand ways’?
Answer:
The poet looks for the cuckoo ‘a thousand ways’ in the bush, trees, and the sky.

Question 6.
Which is the fit home for the Cuckoo?
Answer:
The poet feels that this earth on which human – beings ‘pace’ – tread, which appears unsubstantial (unreal), ‘faery place’ – fairyland as a fit home for the Cuckoo.

Question 7.
How does the bird’s song bring out the ‘visionary hours’ of the poet’s boyhood?
Answer:
According to the poet, the Cuckoo is not a mere ‘babbler’. Its songs have a special meaning attached to them that one would perceive. He feels that the cuckoo does not merely sing meaningless songs. Its voice carries tales about ‘sunshine and of flower’. Hence the poet feels that the Cuckoo tells stories of visionary hours’ (Memories) or times from the past the cuckoo’s song has Wordsworth’s past. He recalls the carefree days of his childhood when he had first heard its voice. He had tried to trace the bird, through its sweet voice all over the woods and valleys but he had never found the bird. He had heard the Cuckoo singing in his childhood and now when he heard its sing again in his adulthood he feels happy to hear it sing and reminiscences his childhood days.

Question 8.
Comment on ‘a wandering voice’, ‘a tale of visionary hours’ and ‘a mystery’.
Answer:
A Wandering Voice. In the poem ‘To the Cuckoo’ the poet addresses the Cuckoo as ‘a wandering voice’ because he has only heard the cuckoo sing but actually not seen the bird at all. He hears the cuckoo sing somewhere nearby and sometimes far away in the woods or the hills. He had tried to trace the bird by following its voice but he had found it to be elusive. He could only hear it but could not see it and hence he calls it a ‘wandering voice’.

‘A tale of visionary hours’ The poet again hears the cuckoo sing during his adulthood. Though the cuckoo seems to sing to vales (valleys) on which the sun shines and the flowers bloom. Its sweet voice brings back the sweet memories of the poet’s childhood, it’s voice brings the vision of the poet’s childhood back to him.

‘A Mystery’- The poet had only heard the Cuckoo’s voice and had never actually seen the bird. He knows the bird only through its voice but physically the bird is elusive to him so he calls the bird ‘a mystery’.

Question 9.
How are the following expressions significant in the poem?
Answer:
a. O blessed bird!
‘O blessed Bird. The phrase ‘O Blessed Bird’ demonstrates the poet’s admiration for the cuckoo, for its sweet voice, and for the freedom it has to wander carefree all over the hills and vales.

b. Faery place

The poet feels that this earth on which we human beings tread (pace), again appears to be an unreal – unsubstantiated ‘faery place’, a fairyland, because of its natural beauty and birds which sing in a beautiful voice. Hence he thinks that this earth is a haven for birds such as the cuckoo. Maybe the poet feels that the presence of the cuckoo which sings in a sweet voice makes this earth an ideal place for us to dwell.

c. Fit home for thee!
The poet feels that this earth is an ideal place for a divine bord such as a cuckoo to dwell. This dynamic and Versatile earth is the perfect dwelling for the cuckoo as he is also unpredictable like the earth. This cuckoo evokes the poet’s childhood memories once again but the bird itself is invisible to him.

Question 10.
Describe ‘To the Cuckoo’ in your own words.
Answer:
The poem ‘To the Cuckoo’ is a short lyrical ballad written by the English poet William Wordsworth in 1802 and extracted from his “Poems in Two volumes”

The poet Wiliam Wordsworth was lying on the grassy meadow, enjoying the natural surroundings of the place. Suddenly he hears the two-fold call of a cuckoo reverberating somewhere nearby. He tries to get a glimpse of the wonderous bird, but it is elusive. He recalls the carefree days of his childhood when he had first heard its voice. He had tried to trace the bird through its sweet voice singing, over the woods and valleys, but he had never found the bird.

The poem has been written in admiration and glorification of the cuckoo. The cuckoo becomes a symbol of beauty, innocence, and childhood for the poet. Later in his life when the poet, again hears the voice of the cuckoo, he is inspired to write a poem on it.

The poet addresses the cuckoo as a ‘blithe newcomer!’ According to him, the bird leads a happy and carefree life unlike him. He has heard the bird’s voice before and it still haunts his memory and he feels happy after hearing it sing. He wonders if he should consider it as a bird or just a ‘wandering voice’ which gives the bird the ability to be free and wander about in the woods, without any restrictions. He is sad that human beings lead a restricted life.

At present when the poet is lying on the grass immersed in nature, he again hears its ‘twofold call’. The bird never gets tired of singing. It seems to Wordsworth that the bird’s cry is echoing all around the hills, surrounding the meadows. The cuckoo wanders from hill to hill and they seem to reverberate with its voice. The poet feels that the whole place is submerged in its song.

The poet again addresses the bird. According to him, the cuckoo is not a mere ‘babbler’. Its songs have a special meaning attached to them than one would perceive. He feels that the cuckoo does not merely sing meaningless songs. Its voice carries tales about ‘sunshine and of flowers. Hence the poet feels that the cuckoo tells stories of ‘visionary hours’ (Memories) or times from the past. The cuckoo’s song has an attachment to Wordsworth’s past.

The poet writes that he is eager and more than happy to welcome the bird (darling of the spring). The poet had not yet been able to have a glimpse of the bird, but he can only hear its sweet voice. As it is the cuckoo is heard more in springtime and the poet had heard the bird sing only thrice in his life.

The poet had actually never seen the cuckoo in his life. To him, the bird is yet a mysterious voice. It is still invisible to him, but its voice can still provoke strange emotions and memories in him The poet takes us back to his childhood days.

The poet recalls from his vivid memory that the cuckoo’s voice is the same he had heard in his childhood days. As a boy, when he had heard the cuckoo sing, he was so enchanted by its voice, that he had pursued the voice and looked for the source of the voice in a thousand places, in the bushes, trees, and in the sky. But the bird was elusive to him. Again the poet writes that he did not give up his search for the cuckoo. He was so inspired by its enchanting voice, he would often ‘rove’-wander-over the hills and meadows in search of it. The poet was deeply attached to the cuckoo’s voice, it was more than just a sweet and beautiful voice.

The poet recalls that the bird was – ‘wert’, elusive to him even in his childhood and was still elusive to him now, but he truly wanted to find it and still cherished a hope to have a glimpse of it.

The poet reveals that this search for the elusive cuckoo, is still, ‘a love’ of his life and yearns to have a glimpse of it.

In the present, the poet can still, only hear the Cuckoo singing while he lay on the grass in the meadow. He can lie on the grass hearing its sweet voice until he is able to ‘beget’- produce the memories of what he considers his ‘golden time’ yet again. The poet considers his carefree childhood days as ‘golden time’ and to be the best of his life. The Cuckoo’s sweet enduring voice is able to draw out his memories and the emotions attached to them.

The poet addresses the cuckoo as a blessed bird. The poet feels that this earth on which human beings ‘pace’- tread, again appears to be an unreal – ‘unsubstantial’, ‘faery place’ – fairyland. But he thinks that this earth is an ideal home for the cuckoo to dwell.

May be the poet feels that the presence of the cuckoo, which sings in a sweet voice, makes this earth an ideal place for us to dwell.
This dynamic and versatile earth is the perfect dwelling for the cuckoo as he is also unpredictable like the earth. This cuckoo evokes the poet’s childhood memories once again, but the bird itself is invisible to him.

Question 12.
Consider ‘To the Cuckoo’ as a ‘Lyrical Ballad’
Answer:
‘Lyrical Ballads’ are traditional verse first ever written by William Wordsworth. These ballads are based on Metre, Rhyme and Rhythem composed in a state of vivid sensation which sees to recreate that sensation in the reader. A ballad is a sentimental romantic song.

The poem ‘To the Cuckoo’ by William Wordsworth is a sentimental poem directly addressed to the cuckoo. The Poet’s tone throughout the poem is reverential and nostalgic. The poet happily welcomes the cuckoo, calling it a ‘Blithe new – comer’ which give the image of a carefree bird unlike we human beings who are ever involved in the drudgery of life. The Cuckoo revels in his freedom. The poet is delighted to hear the bird. He calls it a ‘wandering voice’ since he has never seen it physically. The poet is lying on the grass on a meadow when he hears the distinctive sweet – voice of the cuckoo, which reverbrates on the hills and vales. The poet feels that the bird is singing about the sunshine and colourful beautiful flowers.

This sweet song of the cuckoo invokes the memories of the poet’s childhood days. The poet confesses that he had only heard the birds voice but the bird itself is still elusive to him. So the bird is just a mysterious voice to him He recalls that in his school – days he had listened to its voice. Which made him look for it in a thousand places, in the bushes, the trees and in the sky above. So the poet often wandered here and there in the woods and medows hoping to discover the object of his love. He stills longs to catch a glimpse of the bird but it is still elusive to him So he lies on the green meadow and listens to the cuckoo’s voice until he recalls that ‘golden time’ again, when he had first heard the cuckoo sing and was enchanted by its vote.

These memories of the past are still precious to him. The poet says that the cuckoo is a ‘blessed bird’ because it leads a carefree life on this beautiful earth, but as a human – being, the poet has none of the liberties ofthe cuckoo. The careworn days of the poet has restricted his liberty to enjoy the bounties of nature, unlike the cuckoo. Yet he believes that this earth with all its natural beauty makes it a fairy place which seems unreal to the poet, but he believes that the earth is an ideal place for the cuckoo to dwell.

Wordsworth’s talent as a lyrical romantic poet is demonstrated in the poem ‘To the Cuckoo ’.

Question 13.
Explain ‘To the Cuckoo’ as a lyric ‘recollected in tranquillity’
Answer:
According to Wordsworth, ‘Poetry has its origin in emotions recollected in tranquility ‘To the Cuckoo’ is a poem that demonstrates that it is indeed emotions recollected in tranquility as in the lines.

“The same whom in my school-boy days I listened to, that cry which made me look a thousand ways In bush and tree and sky”
One day, Wordsworth was lying on the grass in a meadow enjoying nature. He suddenly hears the call of the cuckoo, which he had heard during his schoolboy days. He recalls that the same ‘cry’ of the cuckoo had made him look a thousand ways around him to find the source of the sweet – voice. He had looked for it in the bush, trees and in the sky, but the source of the sweet voice was elusive to him and is still elusive in his adulthood. The cuckoo’s song makes the poet nostalgic.

He calls the bird ‘O Blithe’ newcomer, who welcomes the spring. Unlike the poet the bird is carefree to wander about over the hill and vales. The poet is overwhelmed with feelings of happiness and comfort when he hears the cuckoo’s voice. The sweet voice of the cuckoo reconnects him with his past. Though the cuckoo sings to the hills and vales, full of sunshine and colourful flowers, it brings the happy memories of the poets school-boy days. So the poet welcomes the bird again and again (thrice welcome) He wants to listen to its sweet voice again and again, even though the poet has not seen it physically.

It is invisible to him He Knows the bird only through its mysterious voice, which he had heard in his school boy days. He recalls that he wandered here and there in the woods and medows in search of bird. But it remained elusive. He has not lost hope and longest to see the bird, that he had never seen. It had become an obession for him, to have a glimpse of the bird. Though he can’t see the cuckoo, he can hear it sing as he lies on the medow. He listens to the sweet voice of the cuckoo until he can recall from his memory the day he had first heard it sing during his schoolboy days. He yearns for those ‘golden time’ (school-boy days) again.

The poet is now in adulthood. He is wracked by the trials and triabulations for adulthood. He is not as free as the Cuckoo, which can wander about in the hills and vales, singing happily. So he calls the cuckoo is a ‘blessed bird’, because it has got the freedom to wander about and sing happily, without a worry in its heart.

The poet was feeling dejected and feels that the earth was a dreary place to live due to the monotony of the daily drudgery of life. But after he hears the cuckoo sing, again, in his adulthood, he is able to recall the carefree days of his school-boy days. So the poet feels that the earth on which humanbeing tread, again appears to be a unreal, fairyland, due to the presence of the cuckoo and the music of its sweet voice, So the poet feels that this earth is an ideal place for the cuckoo to dwell, because its sweet voice gives happiness to the poet who was sad due to the monotony of life.

Question 14.
‘To the Cuckoo’ is a poem of reveries of Wordsworth’s childhood. Comment.
Answer:
The poem ‘To the Cuckoo’ is a poem of reveries of Words worth’s childhood. It is a faithful record of the poets state of mind at the time of hearing the bird’s song.
One day, the poet was lying on the grass on a meadow when he suddenly hears the sweet voice of a Cuckoo. He is delighted to hear the cuckoo’s cry again. The cuckoo’s call brings back the memories ofhis school-boy days. It bring’s ‘Tale of visionary hours’. The poet recalls that the cuckoo’s sweet voice was similar to the one he had heard during his school – boy days. When the poet had heard the cuckoo’s cry for the first time in his school-boy days, he had looked for the source of the voice at a thousand places, in the bush, the tree and the sky.

He recalls that he would often wander through the woods and meadows in search of the bird, but he could only hear its voice and it was physically elusive to him. The bird is still elusive to him,, but he has not lost hope, he still yearns to have a glimpse of it. Yet he can lie upon the grass and listen to it. Until he can recall the carefree days of his childhood when he was able to happily roam in the woods and hills without a care in the world. The poet considers the cuckoo as ‘blessed’ since he is carefree and can roam about singing happily in the natural bounty of the earth.

The presence of the Cuckoo and its sweet voice makes the poet think that the earth is once again a beautiful place to dwell, in spite of the dull drudgery of daily life. So the poet believes that this earth is an ideal place for the cuckoo to dwell, as its presence and its sweet voice makes the earth a ‘fairyland’ which helps human beings forget their worries for a few moments, after hearing the cuckoo’s sweet – voice in nature.

English Summary

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