Figure of Speech in Keeping Quiet Class 12 Flamingo In-Depth Analysis | Figures of Language

By | January 23, 2024
Keeping Quiet Poetic Device
Figure of Speech in Keeping Quiet

Keeping Quiet Poetic Devices

 `Count to twelve’ — symbolizes a measure of time. The clock has twelve markings on it, the year has twelve months and the day has twelve hours. `Fishermen in the cold sea…hurt hands’-symbolic image showing how man is ruthlessly destroying nature for his selfish need. The ‘hurt hands’ of the salt gatherer symbolises how he is harming himself by his mindless activities.

 Fisherman and whale stand for the oppressor and oppressed respectively. ‘Cold sea’ — transferred epithet.

 Put on clean clothes’- Alliteration

Introspection will make us comprehend the destructive nature of wars. Man would cleanse his heart purging it of hatred.

`Brothers’ — a symbol of mankind

`In the shade’ — metaphor — just as shade protects us from the harsh sun, we will protect and shelter each other as brothers, thus live in peace and harmony.

`Clean clothes’ symbolize peace and change in one’s perspective.

`Earth can teach us as when everything’ — Personification. Earth is personified as a teacher. When the earth appears to be dead, it is actually dormant and carefully preserving the seeds of life, human beings too need to keep still and quiet to re-awaken the life forces to be productive.

The poet urges people to get into a mode of total inactivity for some seconds. There should only be silence, no movement and a mood of introspection. He condemns the mundane activities. He says that we should not indulge in any mindless activity or speak in any language, nor does he want any gestures of arms that can distract or disturb. He says that we should commit ourselves to complete silence and inactivity

This moment of complete inactivity would be an extraordinary, memorable or cherished moment. There would be no rush of activity, no noise and no disturbance. Man would not have to cope with the fast pace of life. This would be a profound moment of bonding and togetherness. There would be a complete relaxation of mind, body and soul.

The poet talks about a metaphorical concept when he says that fishermen would not harm marine life. ‘Cold sea’ denotes the coldness of fishermen who do not bother about protection of sea life and in moments of inactivity, they would not be able to disturb the sea animals. The salt gatherers would also stop to look at their calloused hands that hurt due to this activity. They too would pause to think about their mindless activities and their effects.

 The poet feels that the whole speculation of wars and their destructive qualities would be negated during those moments of silence. ‘Green wars’ refers to environmental degradation caused by human activities, ‘wars’ with gases and fires refers to wars fought with nuclear and bioweapons. A man may get the satisfaction of being victorious but ironically, wars leave behind no survivors.

Those human beings who wage wars would be cleansed of all the murk and dirt from their minds. They would then walk about with other individuals and exhibit amity, brotherhood and harmony. They would do nothing to harm mankind or nature.

The poet does not wish to advocate total inactivity or silence, which may be misunderstood, and confused with death. Life continues to remain what we make of it. If we were not so concerned about keeping our lives active, i.e., doing things mindlessly and waging wars. We perhaps would not lose sight of our goals. Our desire to achieve goals makes us single-minded and desperate. It is then that we lose all perspective. The poet feels that silence for a while might alleviate sadness from our lives. Quiet productivity in place of all activities is desirable. The end of all activities does not mean death but just a break from the monotony of a stressful life.

The poet, in the last lines, feels that we can learn a lesson from earth. It can teach us how silence is productive. The earth appears calm and quiet but is actually nurturing life. Things may die but are reborn and the cycle goes on because the earth brings forth new life. The poet appeals to all human beings to make an effort to keep inactive/ quiet. He has initiated the state of inactivity and now it is the human beings who can carry on with this idea while he makes a quiet exit.

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Keeping Quiet Poem Chapter Nutshell


  1. The urgent need for mankind to introspect, buy time to start afresh.
  2. To put an end to all destructive activities, be at peace, in universal brotherhood.
  3. The need to live in peaceful co-existence with nature, to stop harming animals and avoid annihilation of the human race.


  1. The poet counts up to 12, as a countdown to stop all activity (12 indicating the twelve markings on the clock/12 months signifying the passage of time) people all over the world stop working, bound in an `exotic’ moment as it has never happened before.
  2. Fishermen don’t kill whales and the man stops extracting salt hurting his hands in the process. Men indulging in wars, chemical or otherwise, harming the environment, stop their destructive activities, don’t clean clothes and are at peace with each other, `in the shade’ as against the fiery wars where there would be no survivors.
  3. The poet wants productive inactivity, not inactivity per se which would be a death-like a state. He thinks men are single-minded in the following a routine, without introspecting and gauging to see where they are going with their lives, there is a vacuum in their lives, a deep sadness as they have no time to ponder over what they want from life.
  4. The Earth, he thinks can teach us the need to take a break (as it seems to hibernate in winter, seems dead but comes back to life in full force in spring) to resurrect our life and start afresh. After conveying his message, the poet feels he can pass on the mantle of responsibility to mankind who can follow his path shown by him.


  1. Use of repetition with a difference in the first and last lines of the poem.
  2. ‘put on clean clothes’ metaphorical—cleanse one’s soul, remove traces of bloodshed.
  3. Image of the earth-nurturer and life-giver.