Topic outline

    • The Mountain and the Squirrel 

      About the poem

      A.  Read to understand

      1. Fill in the blanks with words from the poem to complete this summary.

      One day, the mountain and the squirrel have a quarrel. The huge mountain calls the tiny squirrel a little prig. The squirrel, whose name is Bun, replies that while it is not as big as the mountain, the mountain is not even half as energetic as the squirrel. To make up a year and a sphere, all sorts of things and weather must be taken into consideration. The talents of both the mountain and the squirrel differ greatly. If the squirrel cannot carry the forest on its back, then the mountain cannot crack a tiny nut.

      2. Answer these questions.

           a)   How many times does the mountain speak in the poem?

            Ans. The mountain spoke only once in the poem.


           b)   What two things does the squirrel acknowledge the mountain can do?

            Ans. The two things does the squirrel acknowledge are:

      1.   It can carry forest on its back.

      2.   It makes a very pretty squirrel track.


           c)   How does the squirrel defend itself against the big mountain?

            Ans. The squirrel defends itself against the big mountain by saying that although it is small, it is more lively and energetic. If it cannot carry forests on its back, neither the mountain can crack a nut. They both have different talents.



      3. Choose the correct options.

           a)   ‘And I think it no disgrace/To occupy my place.’ These lines tell us that

        i. wisdom always gets the better of strength.

        ii. everything in this world has its own value.

        iii. there is nothing that cannot be achieved without hardwork.

        iv. there is no shame in admitting that we are inferior to someone.


          b)   ‘All is well and wisely put.’ Which one of the four statements best explains this line?

        i. God, in his unlimited wisdom, has made everything as it is for a reason.

        ii. Nothing in this world can compete with God, who has made everything.

        iii. All will be well between the mountain and the squirrel if they appreciate each other’s importance.

        iv. Too much importance must not be given to our abilities as there is always someone better than we are.


           c)   The squirrel makes its case by trying not to offend the mountain. Which of these lines from the poem is an example of this tactful nature of the squirrel?

        i. ‘And I think it no disgrace / To occupy my place.’

        ii. ‘You are not so small as I / And not half so spry.’

        iii. ‘I’ll not deny you make / A very pretty squirrel track;’

        iv. ‘But all sorts of things and weather / Must be taken in together,’




      B.  Discuss

      1. A fable is a short imaginary tale that teaches a moral or a lesson usually by means of animal characters. The story can be in prose or in verse. Would you call this poem a fable? Give reasons for your answer.

      Ans. I would call it fable because this poem teaches us that each person has his or her own individual talents, and everyone/everything has its purpose, no one is superior or inferior in this world.

      The squirrel in the poem show cased its talent and stated that the God has put all the creatures in its proper place and all of them carry different talents. Therefore, we should not under estimate any creature on the basis of their size.


      2. In what ways do you think a small creature like a squirrel is important to a forest? How is a forest helpful to a squirrel?

      Ans. Squirrels help the forest in renewal, by helping in the dispersal of seeds. Squirrels collect nuts and store them in their burrows. Some seed that are left behind grows into new plant. Similarly, forest is helpful to a squirrel by providing it with food, shelter and a pretty squirrel track.



      C.  Read to appreciate

      1. Look at the last words of each line in the poem. Do you find any words that rhyme? Which are these?

      The rhyme scheme is AABCBDDEEFFGHHIJKJK.


      You will notice that this poem does not follow any regular arrangement of rhyming words at the end of the lines.

      In other words, the poem lacks a definite H R E M Y  C S M E H E. (Solve the anagram to find the answer.)



      The theme of a poem or a story is the main idea or lesson that the writer is trying to express.

      2. Tick the statements that you think tell us the theme of this poem.

           a)   Mere size is not everything.

           b)   We all think too much of ourselves.

           c)   None is superior or inferior in this world. 

           d)   Everyone is gifted with different talents. 

           e)   There is a pattern behind all of God’s creation.

           f)    God has simply put things of all sizes on this earth. 

           g)   It is all right to judge merely by appearances.