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Chapter 12 A Roadside Stand Class 12 Flamingo NCERT Notes
About the Chapter
The poet brings attention to the struggle of the villagers who are desperate for money in order to improve their lives. He also conveys their disapproval of the city dwellers’ lack of compassion towards these villagers. By describing how the villagers sell their locally made products, yet are ignored and disregarded by those passing through, the poet criticizes the lack of empathy demonstrated by those from urban areas.
About the Poet
Robert Frost, a renowned American poet, was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874. His father passed away from tuberculosis at the young age of eleven. Later in life, Frost moved to England with his wife and four children. It was there that he made the decision to publish a collection of his earlier poems within just six months of arriving. Throughout his poetic career, Frost received numerous accolades including membership in the prestigious American Academy and even a Pulitzer Prize. Sadly, Robert Frost passed away in January 1963.
A Roadside Stand Class 12 Flamingo English NCERT Summary
The little old house was out with a little new shed
In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped,
A roadside stand that too pathetically pled,
It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread,
But for some of the money, the cash, whose flow supports
The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint.
The little shed, which had been recently added to the old house, was positioned in the front and at the edge of the road. Vehicles were constantly passing on the busy road, making it an ideal location for a roadside stand. Though it was new, the shed had a pathetic appearance. It was not constructed out of desperation or for charity. Instead, it was built with the intention of earning some cash. The poet humorously highlights the importance of spending money at a simple roadside stand. By engaging in such transactions, individuals contribute to the flow of money within the economy, ultimately aiding in its growth and stability.
The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead,
Or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts
At having the landscape marred with the artless paint
Of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned wrong
Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts,
Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts,
Or beauty rest in a beautiful mountain scene,
You have the money, but if you want to be mean,
Why keep your money (this crossly) and go along.
The roadside stand is adorned with signs that have been painted without any artistic finesse, causing annoyance to those who happen to glance at them while driving by in their elegant-looking vehicles. These individuals believe that the signs detract from the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. However, these signs serve a purpose as they are intended to capture the attention of passersby and inform them about the various offerings available at the stand. The shack, which was selling wild berries in a wooden quart, stood out among the local produce due to its unappealing appearance described as “crook-necked” and “squash with silver warts”. Despite the lack of quality in the products, the place also provided a tranquil retreat for those who could afford it. However, the poet expresses frustration towards the indifferent behavior of the so-called ‘polished traffic’ and urges them to continue their journey without paying attention to the roadside stand.
The hurt to the scenery wouldn’t be my complaint
So much as the trusting sorrow of what is unsaid:
Here far from the city we make our roadside stand
And ask for some city money to feel in hand
To try if it will not make our being expand,
And give us the life of the moving-pictures’ promise
That the party in power is said to be keeping from us.
According to the poet, the complaint he has is not about the artless paint that has damaged the landscape. Instead, his complaint lies in the sorrow of the betrayed trust that the poor farmers have not openly expressed. Deep down, these farmers admit that they have set up a roadside stand far away from the city with hopes of earning some money. Their aim is to improve their lives with the money they earn from this endeavor. They hope it will make their lives like the ones they see in movies. But people in the opposition say that this can’t happen because the party in power won’t let it. Things will stay the same when the opposition takes power, though. After that, the other person will say the same thing. People in power will be blamed, and the blame game will continue. The poor farmers will not be thought of at all.
It is in the news that all these pitiful kin
Are to be bought out and mercifully gathered in
To live in villages, next to the theatre and the store,
Where they won’t have to think for themselves anymore,
While greedy good-doers, beneficent beasts of prey,
Swarm over their lives enforcing benefits
That are calculated to soothe them out of their wits,
And by teaching them how to sleep they sleep all day,
Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way.
The poet expresses their outrage towards the negligent attitude of the civic authorities, government, and social service agencies. They criticize these institutions for making tall promises and relocating poor villagers to the vicinity of theaters and shops, under the guise of taking good care of them. The poet addresses these individuals as “greedy good-doers,” who may appear to be benefactors but are actually “beasts of prey.” They accuse them of exploiting the innocent village folk by providing them with a false sense of security, ultimately causing harm instead of helping them. The poet described the exploitative nature of developers and civic authorities who deceive villagers into giving up their land. By promising a better life and peaceful sleep, these individuals manipulate and silence the villagers ultimately causing them to lose both their land and their ability to sleep peacefully. This reversal of the traditional day-time work and night-time rest further increases the villagers’ anxiety and prevents them from finding any respite from their troubles.
Sometimes I feel myself I can hardly bear
The thought of so much childish longing in vain,
The sadness that lurks near the open window there,
That waits all day in almost open prayer
For the squeal of brakes, the sound of a stopping car,
Of all the thousand selfish cars that pass,
Just one to inquire what a farmer’s prices are.
And one did stop, but only to plow up grass
In using the yard to back and turn around;
And another to ask the way to where it was bound;
And another to ask could they sell it a gallon of gas
They couldn’t (this crossly); they had none, didn’t it see?
The poet describes how the poor farmers wait all day at their stand, hoping that someone will stop and inquire about their prices. However, their hopes are often crushed as hardly anyone stops at their stand. The farmers sit by the open window with sad expressions on their faces, enduring the pain of waiting. They pray for the sound of brakes and a car stopping, but thousands of selfish cars pass by without stopping. The farmers long for just one car to show interest in their produce and ask about their prices. Eventually, one car does stop, but only to turn back without showing any interest in their products. One car uses the yard in front of the stand as a turnaround spot, causing damage to the grass. Another car stops to ask for directions. Yet another car stops to see if they can purchase petrol, but become irritated when they discover that the farmer does not have any. The poet criticizes the drivers for their lack of foresight, suggesting that they should have known that a small roadside stand would not likely have petrol available. The poet views their frustration as a reflection of their own foolishness.
No, in country money, the country scale of gain,
The requisite lift of spirit has never been found,
Or so the voice of the country seems to complain,
I can’t help owning the great relief it would be
To put these people at one stroke out of their pain.
And then next day as I come back into the sane,
I wonder how I should like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.
The poet says that the plight of the farmers has never been taken into account in the country’s economic policies or its statistics. This is a common complaint among those living in rural areas. He desires for them to be in a position where they can offer the poet assistance if they ever find him in need. This means the poet desires a reversal of roles where the farmers are no longer seeking help but instead are able to provide aid and alleviate the suffering of others.