Poem ‘The Eagle and the Beetle’ poem summary, meanings, question answers and poetry appreciation.
Summary: The Eagle and The Beetle
The poem ‘The Eagle and the Beetle’ begins with the friendship between a Hare and a Beetle. Both were close friends and spent maximum time together. One day, an Eagle attacked the Hare. Despite repeated pleadings and requests of the Beetle, the Eagle killed the hare. The sad Beetle decided to avenge the murder of her friend. Following the trail of blood drops, the Beetle somehow found the nest of the Eagle. When the Eagle went out to prey, the Beetle pushed the eggs down. After this incident, the Eagle moved her nest but the Beetle tracked the new nest and repeated the act.
Finally, the Eagle went to Zeus for the protection of her eggs. Zeus asked the Eagle to lay her eggs into his lap and promised her protection. When the Beetle comes to know of this, she throws ‘microscopic dung’ on Zeus’ lap. Zeus, in rage, rose cursing and accidently tipped off the eggs. Knowing this, the Eagle died out of grief in some days. People say that, after this, eagles don’t lay their eggs in the months when beetles fly excessively in the sky. Moreover, the moral of the poem is that if you are strong, it does not qualify you to crush others who are weak.
beetle – an insect with four wings; wander – to move, go or walk without any pre-planned destination; feast – a large or special meal especially for a lot of people; overcast – cloudy; alas – unfortunately, sorrowfully; talon – the claw of a bird; spare – leave without harming; sneer – say with contempt and scorn; puny – small and weak in strength; servile – submissive, too much ready to please and obey like slave; cloddish – stupid and dull person; mug – human face – track – find by following the marks, signs etc; tuft – the dense cluster of hair around the tail; plunged – jumped, dived; assume – suppose, take for granted; meddle – to interfere, intervene; appetite – desire for food; pathetic – miserable, weak and useless; least of all – especially not;
A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.
- …before they knew
What cloud had shadowed them, the hare Hung from her talons in mid-air.
a. Who are ‘they’?
b. What had overshadowed them?
c. What happened to the hare?
- ‘How do you dare assume the right To meddle with my appetite?’
a. Who is saying this to whom?
b. What happened just before this?
c. Why is the speaker angry?
- ‘When that small, evil clot of mud Has massacred my flesh and blood?’
a. Who is the speaker speaking to?
b. Who is the ‘evil clot of mud’ here?
c. What is referred to as ‘my flesh and blood’?
- a. The beetle and the hare.
b. An eagle had overshadowed them.
c. The eagle took away the hare as its prey.
- a. Eagle is saying this to the beetle.
b. The beetle had cried and asked the eagle to have mercy on its friend.
c. The eagle was angry because the beetle was interrupting it in enjoying its prey. Also, because
the eagle was very proud of its glory and considered the beetle as a lowly insect.
15 The Eagle and the Beetle
- a. The eagle is the speaker here.
b. The beetle is the ‘evil clot of mud’ here.
c. Eagle’s eggs were destroyed by the beetle. Hence the eagle refers them as ‘my flesh and blood.’
B. Answer these questions.
- How did the beetle and the hare spend their time together?
- Explain the line: But, since their friendship was so pleasant, lived for the most part in the present.
- Describe in your own words the beetle’s reaction to the hare’s death.
- How did the beetle avenge the hare’s death?
- What suggestion did Zeus give to the eagle regarding her eggs?
- How did the beetle manage to trick Zeus?
- What does the beetle’s way of dealing with Zeus reflect about its character?
- Describe how the beetle, with a loyal devotion to its friend, is able to accomplish the self-imposed mission and emerge a victor.
- Who do you think is strong—the eagle or the beetle? How?
- What is the superstition associated with eagles?
- What according to you, is the moral of this poem?
- Explain the line: And, the strong who crush the weak may not be shown the other cheek.
1. They wandered together everywhere, went to fairs and feasts, took walks in any kind of weather, talked of the past and the future but lived for the present.
2. Living in the present moment is the best way to live. When friends do that, they enjoy the present moment instead of worrying about the past and the future.
3. She was miserable and very angry with the eagle
4. She knocked off the eagle’s eggs from her nest each time she laid them.
5. Zeus suggested that the eagle should lay her eggs in his lap.
6. The beetle flung some dung at Zeus, who out of fright, rose and shook the dirt off his lap and in the bargain also shook off the eggs that were in his lap.
7. It shows that the beetle was very clever and intelligent and she was not willing to give up.
8. The beetle followed the eagle everywhere and destroyed every time the eagle laid them. It caused panic. The fear of his eggs would be destroyed haunted him at the sight of hare and the droning of the beetle. Ultimately the eagle pined away and the beetle’s mission of revenge was over.
9. The eagle is much powerful by physical strength and size but the will and the continuous struggle combined with the application of mind of beetle belittled the strength of the eagle. The beetle did not fight bodily but made the eagle pay by losing his broods regularly.
10. That they do not lay eggs during the months when beetles fly the most.
11. The moral of the poem is that the strong who crush the weak will not be spared. They will often pay for what they have done.
12. It means that the strong who crush the weak should be made to pay for their sins. They must not be spared.
A. From the poem, pick out all the expressions that the poet uses to show the strength, pride and arrogance of the eagle, and the humble and determined beetle.
B. Comment about the rhyme scheme of the poem.
|1. ‘Please spare my friend’|
2. ‘She swore that till her dying death; she would make the eagle pay
3. Slowly tracked
4. Beetle’s scrutiny followed her flight
5. With much fatigue but little sound
|1. Snared with pride|
2. How do you dare
3. I’m the great God 4. Zeus’s bird!
4. Nothing can harm me
Rhyming Scheme: aa, bb, cc, dd