Six humans trapped by happenstance in a dark and bitter cold.
Each possessed a stick of wood, Or so the story’s told.
1. Explain the ‘expression, In bleak and bitter cold’
The above lines are from the poem ‘The cold within” penned by the poet James Patrick Kinney. The poem talks about the lack of true human feelings that are being fast eroding. Six humans are gripped under an extreme cold happenstance.
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2. What is happenstance?
Happenstance is a coincidence. The six of those humans mentioned in the poem The Cold Within, were assembled at a place by the mere force of coincidence.
3.’Each possessed a stick of wood. ‘Why is the stick referred to as a possession?
It is said that each of them possessed a stick. The stick, their sole possession at that particular moment could save them if they were ready to part with it and use it for the common good. It refers to one’s strengths, positives, qualities, skills, and true feelings… These lines are an extract from the poem Cold Within.
4. What do you think the fire symbolizes?
These lines are from the short verse written by James Patrick Kinney. Fire symbolizes common good. It lights up the world, warms up the living without ever thinking of its dying self. Every moment, the fire dies out for the sake of others.
5. How is the poet different from the six humans? Find a line from the poem to support your answer.
The poem is no longer similar to the six of those humans mentioned in the poem the Cold Within. The poet was actually outraged at the discriminatory mindset of people and his poem is a means of protesting. Hence, he talks as if he yells a tale. The line is ‘Or so the story’s told’.
6. What does the dying fire need?
The fire is about to die out. It needs more wood to make others warmer. The six of the humans have logs in their hands. They could have saved the fire by thrusting the log into it and save themselves. They could have stood united at a crucial time and lend a hand without bothering about caste, color, creed or other divisive factors.
7. How did the first human react?
The first human was a white lady. She was racist. The lady wasn’t ready to sacrifice her log into the extinguishing fire as she noticed that one among her fellow beings was black. She was too stubborn and adamant enough not to save the life of a black.
The second human too declined his stick into the fire because as he was looking across, he found one among his group doesn’t practice the faith he does. So, it was difficult for him to save a man who doesn’t belong to his church.
9 . The third one sat in tattered clothes He gave his coat a hitch. Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat back and thought of wealth he had in store, and keeping all that he had earned from the lazy, shiftless poor.
10.What do tattered clothes tell about the man?
A man in tattered clothes refers to a poor man.
11. How did he react?
The poor man hated rich and their idle nature. He was not willing to spend his hard-earned possession to save the life of a rich man who never thinks about the poor.
12. How was the rich man in helping others?
The rich man was thinking about his wealth and how to save it from the lazy, poor people. He, therefore, doesn’t want to help the fire.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge because he has been a victim of racism by the white. He wanted to show his protest for the age-long exploitation as well. He needed to avenge the whites. Hence, he was not ready to use his stick to save a white. Instead, he used it as a sign of protest .
14. And the last man of this forlorn group Did naught except for gain.
The last man was cunningly calculative. He always looked for profit. He would only give someone help if it is given back to him. Here he saw no such prospects. He, therefore couldn’t offer his stick to the fire.
15. “Their sticks held tight in death’s stilled hands “Explain.
The above line is taken from the poem The Cold Within which tells the human sin of not staying closer or helping each other. Six of the humans were not ready to help each other’s at a critical time and they stuck on to different trivia.
The six humans with the least tinge of humaneness in them succumbed before death. It was the death of their true selves. They died not because of the severe winter but the winter they created in their minds.
They define the cold outside. It was too extreme. It could also hint a troubled nation facing severe setbacks. This can also be because of its split ideals. It refers to a hopeless, sad and frustrating situation.
The poetic technique used is oxymoron. It is a pair of contradictory terms. Six humans are together in a group and still, they were alone.