Poem ‘The Ghost’ – Stanza Wise Explanation

Poem ‘The Ghost’ by Keki N Daruwalla – stanza wise explanation is given here. The whole poem text, Word Meanings, an overview, a summary and a short explanation for school students is also given. Click here for question and answers of the textbook for class 6 Wind Chimes .

Poem: The Ghost

The good thing about good people
is that they are transparent.
The bad thing about ghosts is
they are transparent.
In fact the way you see through them
you don’t see them at all!
And when you can see a ghost
it isn’t quite a ball!
In fact you are up against
a transparent vapour wall.
A few things it were best
to know about ghosts—
they are bad hosts
for they are never in station;
and worse guests:
they barge in—invitation
or no invitation.
Ghosts are not bad omens—
they don’t bring doom.
They don’t come in through chimneys
They don’t ride a broom.
But ghost stories can be true.
I could tell you a few.
Old hotels where stairs creak
and where door hinges squeak
are full of stories that eerily speak
of ghosts and chudails.
I’ve heard it tell
a lady ghost bathing
in a Mussoorie hotel.
Every night you heard
water running and the clink
of bangles on her unseen hand.
But going to the bathroom
you’d see the floor quite dry
and silence draped
on the towel stand.
Once a forest guard saw
one fifth of his face—
the ghost’s face;
he only saw eyebrows and goatee.
Another saw no legs, but sailing by
he saw a dhoti.
And in a village
birds would suddenly stop
their morning bicker
and their morning twitter.
They had sensed a ghost there
rummaging in the litter.
But let’s end these stories
for ghosts give me the jitters!

Keki N Daruwalla

Word Meanings

  • Transparent: Allowing light to pass through so that objects on the other side can be seen clearly.
  • Eerily: In a strange, mysterious, or unsettling manner.
  • Vapour: A visible suspension of particles in the air, such as mist or fog.
  • Station: A place where someone or something usually stays or is located.
  • Barge in: To enter a place abruptly or rudely without being invited.
  • Invitation: A request or welcoming to come to a place or event.
  • Omens: Signs or events that are believed to predict or foreshadow something, often considered to be bad.
  • Chimneys: Vertical structures on rooftops through which smoke and gases from a fire or furnace escape into the air.
  • Broom: A traditional tool used for sweeping, often associated with witches in folklore.
  • Creak: A sharp, high-pitched sound often produced by a door, floorboard, or other object when it moves.
  • Squeak: A high-pitched sound, similar to a creak, produced by friction between surfaces.
  • Chudails: A term used in Indian folklore for female demons or evil spirits.
  • Mussoorie: A popular hill station and tourist destination in India.
  • Dhoti: A traditional Indian garment, similar to a long loincloth, often worn by men.
  • Ethereal: Delicate, light, and otherworldly in nature; often used to describe something that seems heavenly or ghostly.
  • Fragmented: Broken into smaller pieces or parts.
  • Mystique: A sense of mystery, intrigue, or fascination that surrounds a person, place, or concept.
  • Paradoxical: Something that seems contradictory or goes against common understanding.
  • Enigmatic: Mysterious and difficult to understand
  • Litter: In this context, “litter” refers to scattered or untidy objects, like trash or debris, that are lying around in a disorderly manner.
  • Jitters: “Jitters” is a colloquial term that refers to feelings of nervousness, unease, or anxiety. It’s often used to describe a sense of apprehension before a particular event or situation.

An Overview of the Poem ‘The Ghost’

This poem, titled “Ghosts” by Keki N. Daruwalla, explores the characteristics and nature of ghosts while conveying a sense of eerie fascination. The poem consists of various short verses that provide insights into the traits and behaviours associated with ghosts, drawing comparisons between good people and ghosts. Let’s break down the poem and its meaning:

  1. Transparency of Good People and Ghosts:
    The poem begins by contrasting good people and ghosts in terms of their transparency. Good people are transparent in the sense that their intentions and actions are clear and genuine. On the other hand, ghosts are also transparent but in a literal sense; they can be seen through. This juxtaposition sets the tone for the rest of the poem.
  2. Invisibility of Ghosts:
    The speaker points out that ghosts can be so transparent that they become invisible. The transparency is so extreme that when you “see through them,” you actually don’t see them at all. This highlights the idea that ghosts can be elusive and difficult to perceive.
  3. Ghostly Appearance:
    When you do manage to see a ghost, it’s not a complete and solid figure. Instead, it’s compared to a “transparent vapour wall.” This emphasizes the ethereal and intangible nature of ghosts, like a misty presence.
  4. Unpredictable Behaviour:
    The poem highlights the unpredictable behaviour of ghosts. They are portrayed as bad hosts, never staying in one place, and worse guests, as they enter without any regard for invitation. This adds to the sense of uncertainty and unpredictability surrounding ghosts.
  5. Absence of Doom and Omens:
    The poem debunks the idea that ghosts are bad omens or bring doom. They are not portrayed as malevolent entities in this context. This challenges common perceptions of ghosts as harbingers of bad fortune.
  6. Ghost Stories:
    The speaker acknowledges that while ghosts themselves might not be associated with doom, stories about them can be chilling and intriguing. The poem takes a turn to describe real-life ghost stories, particularly those associated with old hotels and eerie occurrences like the sound of water running or bangles jingling without a visible source.
  7. Details of Ghostly Appearances:
    The poem recounts instances where individuals have seen partial glimpses of ghosts, such as a forest guard seeing only a portion of a ghost’s face or noticing specific clothing items. These descriptions contribute to the mystique and fragmented nature of ghostly encounters.
  8. Birds’ Reactions to Ghosts:
    The poem briefly touches on how birds react to the presence of ghosts. Their sudden silence in the presence of a ghost is portrayed as an eerie sign of the supernatural.
  9. Conclusion and Emotion:
    The poem concludes with the speaker expressing discomfort and fear in dealing with ghosts. The line “But let’s end these stories / for ghosts give me the jitters!” captures the underlying unease and fascination the speaker has with the subject of ghosts.

In summary, “Ghosts” by Keki N. Daruwalla is a poem that explores the paradoxical nature of ghosts – their transparency making them invisible, their unpredictable behaviour, and their enigmatic appearances. The poem also touches on the allure of ghost stories and the mixed emotions they evoke.

Short Easy Explanations

Stanza 1:

The good thing about good people
is that they are transparent.
The bad thing about ghosts is
they are transparent.

There’s something nice about good people – they are like clear glass, easy to understand. But ghosts, on the other hand, are also clear like glass, but in a spooky way.

Stanza 2:

Imagine looking through a ghost – it’s almost like they’re not even there! And when you can actually see a ghost, it’s not like seeing a round ball. It’s more like seeing a strange shape.

Stanza 3:

It’s like there’s an invisible wall made of mist when you try to approach a ghost. You can’t really touch or feel them like you would with a solid wall.

Stanza 4:

Here, the poet wants to tell us a few things about ghosts. They’re not very good hosts because they’re never in one place for long. And when they show up somewhere, they’re not very good guests either. They just show up without being invited. Ghosts showing up doesn’t mean something bad will happen. They’re not like signs of bad luck or doom.

Stanza 5:

Ghosts don’t enter houses through chimneys like we might have seen in stories. They don’t ride on broomsticks like witches. But, the poet tells us that stories about ghosts can actually be true.

Stanza 6:

The poet wants to share some stories about ghosts. Imagine old hotels where the stairs make creaking sounds and doors make squeaky noises.

Stanza 7:

These hotels have stories that talk about ghosts and other supernatural creatures. The poet has even heard a story about a lady ghost who was seen taking a bath in a hotel in a place called Mussoorie. People heard water running and the sound of bangles on her wrist, but when they went to see, there was no water on the floor and no one was there.

Stanza 8:

Once, a person who worked in the forest saw a ghost, but he could only see a small part of its face – the eyebrows and a bit of beard. Another person saw only the lower part of the ghost’s clothes.

Stanza 9:

There’s a village where birds suddenly stopped making their usual morning noises. It’s like they sensed something strange – maybe a ghost – in the area, looking around in the trash.

Stanza 10:

But, let’s not talk about these ghost stories anymore because they make the poet feel scared, and ghosts give the poet the creeps!

So, the poem is all about ghosts, how they’re transparent and strange, and some spooky stories about them. It’s not meant to make you too scared, just to tell you interesting things about ghosts!

Stanza Wise Full Explanation

Stanza 1:

The speaker starts by contrasting the qualities of good people and ghosts. Good people are transparent in the sense that their intentions and character are clear and honest. However, ghosts are also transparent, and this transparency creates a sense of ambiguity and unreality. When you look through a ghost, you don’t really see it. This stanza sets up the idea of ghosts being elusive and hard to comprehend.

Stanza 2:

Here, the speaker continues to describe the transparent nature of ghosts. They are so transparent that they can hardly be seen. The speaker compares seeing a ghost to trying to see a ball made of transparent vapor. This simile reinforces the intangible and elusive quality of ghosts.

Stanza 3:

The speaker emphasizes that when you do manage to see a ghost, it’s not a comforting or pleasant experience. Instead, you’re faced with a “transparent vapour wall,” which suggests a barrier between the world of the living and the world of the supernatural.

Stanza 4:

In this stanza, the speaker provides some characteristics of ghosts. They are described as bad hosts and worse guests, as they intrude upon spaces whether invited or not. This highlights their disruptive and unpredictable nature.

Stanza 5:

The speaker clarifies that ghosts themselves are not necessarily harbingers of doom or bad omens. They do not conform to popular depictions of flying on brooms or entering through chimneys like in traditional folklore.

Stanzas 6-7:

Here, the speaker introduces the idea that while ghosts themselves might not be omens, ghost stories can hold a certain truth or eeriness to them. The speaker hints at experiences involving ghosts in old hotels, where the sounds of water running and bangles clinking could be heard, even though the physical evidence didn’t support those sounds.

Stanzas 8-9:

The poem provides a couple of examples of encounters with ghosts. A forest guard saw a portion of a ghost’s face and facial hair, and another saw only a floating dhoti (a traditional Indian garment). These descriptions continue to emphasize the elusive and incomplete nature of these ghostly apparitions.

Stanza 10:

The poem concludes by mentioning an incident in a village where birds suddenly fell silent, sensing a ghost’s presence. The speaker expresses discomfort with these stories, confessing that ghosts give them the “jitters.” This final line underscores the eerie and unsettling nature of ghostly encounters.

Overall, the poem uses vivid and sometimes playful language to explore the enigmatic and unsettling qualities of ghosts. It challenges traditional ghostly imagery and delves into the more psychological aspects of encountering the supernatural. The poem’s structure, short stanzas, and shifts in focus create a sense of fragmented narrative, mirroring the elusive and intangible nature of the ghosts themselves.

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