Thinking about the Poem
I. 1.Which country or countries do you think “the Northland” refers to?
The Northland may refer to the countries located in the polar in the north, like Greenland, Norway, or northern parts of Russia, Canada etc.
2. What did Saint Peter ask the old lady for? What was the lady’s reaction?
Since the lady was baking cakes and Saint Peter was very hungry, he asked her to give him one her store of cakes.The lady made a small cake for him. As it was baking, she noticed that it seemed too big to give away, so she kneaded a smaller one.
She found that this one is as big as the first one and so she took a really tiny piece of dough and rolled it thin as a wafer. Again, she couldn’t part with it and so she put it on the shelf instead of giving it to Saint Peter.
3. How did he punish her?
Saint Peter was very hungry and was angered by the woman’s behaviour. He told her that she was far too selfish to live in a human form and have luxuries such as food, shelter and fire to keep her warm.
He punished her by changing her into a wood pecker that would have to build nests to live in and bore for food all day in the hard dry wood.
4. How does the woodpecker get her food?
The woodpecker gets its food by boring into the wood of trees.
5. Do you think that the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was? What would she have done then?
Had the old lady known that the man asking her for food was Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, she would have been far more generous. She may have welcomed him into her house and baked him not one but several large cakes to eat and probably given him something to drink as well.
6. Is this a true story? Which part of this poem do you feel is the most important?
No, this is not a true story but a legend and it is told in the form of a ballad. The most important part of the poem is Saint Peter’s reaction to the lady’s attitude.
He told her she was far too selfish to dwell in as a human and to have food and shelter and fire to keep her warm, and turned her into a woodpecker that would have to struggle outside in extreme conditions to find a dwelling and some food.
This part makes us understand that we should be extremely grateful to be born humans and get all the comforts of food, clothing and shelter so easily unlike animals. We should appreciate what we have and not be selfish. Instead, we should be generousand helpful to others.
7. What is a legend? Why is this poem called a legend?
A ‘legend’ is a popular story from the past which is believed by many but one cannot prove whether it is true or not. It usually contains a message or a moral and is narrated to children.
The poet himself says that he doesn’t believe this tale to be true. This poem is called a ‘legend’ because it preaches generosity towards fellow beings.
8. Write the story of ‘A Legend of the Northland’ in about ten sentences.
A long time ago when Saint Peter moved around preaching, he came to a cottage of a little woman who was busy baking cakes. Since he was weak with fasting, he asked her for a cake from her store of cakes.
The selfish lady tried to bake small cakes but each time they seemed too big for her to give away. Finally, she baked one that was as thin as a wafer. Unable to part with it too, she put it on a shelf and did not give any cake to the Saint.
Saint Peter was very angry with her behaviour and said she was too selfish to live as a human and have food, shelter and a fire to keep her warm. He punished her by changing her into a woodpecker that would have to build a nest to live in, bore for food in the trunks of trees.
Her clothes were burned and she was left with her scarlet cap on her head as she flew out through the chimney.
1. Let’s look at the words at the end of the second and fourth lines, viz., ‘snows’ and ‘clothes’, ‘true’ and ‘you’, ‘below’ and ‘know.’ We find that ‘snows’ rhymes with ‘clothes’, ‘true’ rhymes with ‘you’ and ‘below’ rhymes with ‘know’. Find more such rhyming words.
The rhyming words are:
- ‘Few’ and ‘through’
- ‘Earth’ and ‘hearth’
- ‘Done’ and ‘one’
- ‘Lay’ and ‘away’
- ‘One’ and ‘done’
- ‘Flat’ and ‘that’
- Myself and ‘shelf’
- ‘Faint’ and ‘saint’
- ‘Form’ and ‘warm’
- ‘Food’ and ‘wood’
- ‘Word’ and ‘bird’
- ‘Same’ and ‘flame’
- ‘Wood’ and ‘food’
2. Go to the local library or talk to older persons in your locality and find legends in your own language. Tell the class these legends.
This is a model answer just for reference. Students are recommended to answer this question based on their research.