‘Animals’ is a beautiful; free-verse poem prescribed for class 10 CBSE. Here are given notes on the poem ‘Animals’ published in the class 10 NCERT English book ‘First flight’. The notes include the central Idea, theme and paraphrasing of the poem ‘Animals’. Poetic devices of the poem ‘Animals’ are also given in the end.
Central Idea of the Poem ‘Animals’
The poet admires animals and wishes to be one of them because he feels that humans have become complicated and emotionless. A human life is full of contradictions and confusions. They spend their time in mindlessly collecting material things and have forgotten the human virtues of kindness love honesty empathy loyalty etc he feels that people commit sins and then they complain about their condition.
He feels that animals lead a simpler life than the complicated life of humans. neither any superiority consideration nor any submission thereof is seen among animals. Animals do not oppress others for material gains and are not after material pursuits. They do not suffer from guilt of sins and never worship Gods for relief from the sense of guilt. They display emotions that were earlier believed to be human emotions. Animals are calm, self-contained and contented.
The poet says that humans have lost those tokens of love (virtues) and understanding that our ancestors shared. Those virtues are carried forward by the animals. The poet thus proves animals to be better than humans and wants to swap his place or live with them and among them.
Theme of the Poem ‘Animals’
Loss of known human virtues is the major theme of the humans. The theme of the poem is not to praise how good animals are, but to compare humans with them in order to highlight the flaws of their nature. The poet believes that probably a very long time ago, humans possessed all the qualities, but they have lost them now.
Message of the Poem ‘Animals’
In the poem ‘Animals’, Walt Whitman wishes to convey that human have become complicated and false. They have forgotten their true nature. They want to earn more and more, so that they can own more luxuries. They commit sins in order to earn and they end up repenting. Their sins have made them restless.
On the other hand, animals are free from all types of trivial anxieties, so they are still living their life naturally. According to him, animals are complacent and self-contained unlike humans. The purpose of the poet is to make humans aware of the lost ‘tokens of love’ of their ancestors and learn lesson from animals as they have the virtues that humans have forgotten in the blind race of material pursuits.
- Humans have now forgotten their admirable qualities which they once possessed. They have become
- uncivilized beasts.
- Animals have successfully retained the great traits abandoned by humans.
- Humans should retain their moral virtues and values and get rid of their mania of possessing materialistic
Explanation & Analysis of the Poem ‘Animals’
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are
so placid and self-contain’d
I stand and look at them long and long.
In this stanza the poet desires to turn animals and live with them because they are calm and self-contained. They are peace with themselves living in their natural habitats and never complain about their conditions. Due to these qualities of the animals the poet likes to stand and look at them for long periods of time. By stating ‘long and long’ the poet expresses his deep longing to look at them because of their qualities. Indirectly the poet wants men to have these qualities. The poet seems to feel sorry and lament that humans do not display these quality virtues as reflected among animals.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
they do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
The poet goes further to admire their life and qualities. He is quite happy with the fact that animals do not make complaints and cry about their conditions like humans. They eat and sleep peacefully as they have nothing to worry about, while humans, because of their wrong actions are unable to do so and thus cannot sleep without worrying about them. Humans, even after committing sins, talk about God and rightness, while animals are simple creatures and they do not need to worry about praying to God. The poet here means that since animals are so pure, they do not pray to God for forgiveness or ask God to fulfil their desires like humans.
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with
the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that
lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
All animals are satisfied with their lot. No one is dissatisfied. No animal has the mania of collecting things. Animals don’t get mad in the race of owning things like humans. They don’t kneel down to show respect to others or to those who were born thousands of years ago. No animal considers himself more respectable than others (like human beings). Nor can you find any animal on this whole earth who is unhappy over his lot
So they show their relations to me and I accept them,
They bring me tokens of myself, they evince
them plainly in their possession
I wonder where they get those tokens,
Did I pass that way huge times ago and
negligently drop them?
The poet feels that animals represent human beings in some way. This means that animals seem to have what humans once had, i.e. virtues like kindness, self-containment and innocence. They symbolise the lost values of the human race. He believed that civilisation has corrupted human beings and instead of teaching values to them, it has taught them greed. He believes in this poem that humans dropped these virtues a long time ago and have forgotten them.
Poetic Devices Used in the Poem
Rhyme Scheme: There is no rhyme as the poem is written in free verse.
Anaphora — Use of repeated words at the beginning of two or more consecutive lines
- ‘They do not’ – Second Stanza
- ‘Not one’ – Third Stanza
Personification: The poem has uniform personification
Repetition: Repetition of words/phrases in the same line
- I stand and look at them long and long
Alliteration: Repetition of initial consonant sounds in the same line.
- They do not make me sick
- I wonder where they get those tokens
- I stand and look at them long and long.
Assonance — Use of vowel sound ‘I’ (I think I… live with animals)
- ‘Sweat and whine’ – refer to the cries and complaints of human beings.
- ‘tokens’ – The inner qualities of humans are referred to as ‘tokens’