The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner
1 Write/Give a summary of the poem.
“The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner” presents the reminiscences of the poet’s young age and contrasts them with his present pathetic condition in his old age. He has become very old and is living a retired life on pension. Now he has only a broken tree as a shelter whenever he is caught in rain. He is deprived of a reliable shelter, when he needs it most. But when he was young, he had a cozy and comfortable room where he used to sit near fire, warming himself. And it used to be lively with the company of his friends. They talked about a variety of subjects like love and politics.
Today, ‘Time’ has taken away these moments as well as his friends, leaving him old, isolated and not so good-looking. He sees boys making weapons, possibly to fight against the tyranny. He could have done similar himself when he was young. Now he is too old and sad to be involved in all this. He keeps thinking about how time has cruelly transfigured him. The poet laments that time has completely changed his appearance. He is ugly like a broken tree. As a result, no woman shows interest in him. He can only remember the beauties that he loved. They are still fresh in his memory. ‘Time’ is responsible for his pathetic condition, so he wants to spit in its face for the change it has brought in him.
2 Why does the poet want to spit into the face of time?
The poet wants to spit into the face of time in disgust for the changes it has brought in him. Time has transfigured him from strong, energetic and high-spirited youth to a helpless, lonely and weak old man. Time has made him ugly like a broken tree. He has completely changed due to the course of ‘Time’. He realizes that everything is finished. ‘Time’ has taken away his shelter, friends, youth, energy, and charm. As ‘Time’ is responsible for his pathetic condition, he wants to spit in its face.
3 What is the speaker lamenting on?
OR, How and why does the old pensioner lament?
OR, Mention the three things the old man laments about?
The speaker is lamenting on being old because of time. He laments the loss of three things: good shelter, power and energy, and good looks. He cannot get them back. He had a comfortable shelter, where He used to talk with friends about politics. Now his shelter is often a broken tree. He could take part in revolutions. Now it is beyond his power. Time has changed him from a handsome young man to an ugly old man. He used to be popular among girls. Now no beautiful lady likes him. thus, he laments the loss of power, friends, happiness, beauties and comforts of life.
4 What is the significance of the Title?
The title of the poem is quite meaningful with the words ‘lamentation,’ ‘pensioner’ and ‘old’, which capture the speaker’s situation. ‘Lamentation’ means expressing great sadness at the loss of something precious. The poet laments, having lost his youthful days. The word ‘pensioner’ is more effective than ‘man’. As a pensioner, the speaker gets financial support for the service he has provided. ‘Time’ has transfigured him into an ugly, old, almost useless man. Therefore, he laments. But he has lots of memories. They help him, like the pension, to live in old age.
5 Explain the significance of the refrain in the poem.
The refrain ‘time that has transfigured me’ is very significant to express the poet’s rage against time which has brought unwanted changes for him. Refrain is the technique of repeating one or more lines at the end of each stanza. In this poem, the poet keeps saying that time has changed his appearance and condition. He repeatedly curses time for snatching his energy, strength, charms and friends and for making him a pathetic, helpless and lonely figure. Time has made his life worse. Thus, the refrain ‘time that has transfigured me’ emphasizes the fact that time brings changes whether we like it or not.
6 What is the tone of the poem: complacency, resignation, rage? Why?
The tone of the poem is full of rage as the poet is angry with time for bringing change in his figure and situation. We cannot find complacency. The poet is not satisfied with his present. There is only consolation that time has not snatched his sweet memories. He is retired from active life but he has not resigned from life. He still wants to do many things, only he is not strong enough. Therefore, his tone is full of rage. He curses time for the changes which have made his condition worse.
7 What does the poem add to our knowledge of the old man (his character, attitude, circumstances)?
The poem adds to our knowledge of the old man about his character, attitude and circumstances. He was active, energetic, strong, brave, rebellious, romantic and intellectual as a young man. But with time, he has become old and weak. Now he has only memories of his past life. His circumstances have changed. He had friends and a comfortable residence. Now he has none of these. He had girlfriends. Now no woman looks at his ugly, wrinkled face. This changed situation makes him angry at time.
8 Describe the shifts in subject matter in the poem. What is the effect of these shifts?
The shifts in subject matter in the poem suggest the poet’s different past experiences. The first stanza is about how he spent time with his friends: discussing about subjects like love and politics. The second stanza talks about young men making weapons. He seems to have done similar in his youth. In the last stanza, he remembers the beauties who were attracted toward him as a youth. In spite of these shifts, the poem is unified by the poet’s angry tone. He curses time for bringing changes in him.
9 Write an essay On “Youth & Age”
Youth and age are two opposite stages of life. Qualities like strength, independence, beauty, activity and happiness are attached with youth. But old age is attached with weakness, ugliness, passivity, dependence and sadness. Youth and age differ in physical, social and other aspects.
Youth is active and energetic. We can earn well and can have comfortable life. We make many friends. But old age makes us weak, powerless and lonely. Earning capacity decreases and we have to be satisfied whether or not we get a good a comfortable life.
Youth is revolutionary. Whenever there is a fight against any misrule and tyranny, it is the youths who are the main participants. They make and use weapons. But old people cannot get involved in such activities. At best, they can suggest ideas from their experience.
Youth is romantic as it is the age of love and romance. Young people like to be near the ones they like and love. There is often a competition to attract the attention of the opposite sex. As we turn old, we lose good looks and no one is attracted toward us. We become lonely.
Thus, youth and age are opposite of each other. But it is inevitable that every young man turns old because of time. The poem “The Lamentation of the Old Pensioner” also conveys this idea as the speaker laments for the loss of comforts, energy and good looks.