A Nation’s Strength
Central Idea: The poem “A Nation’s Strength” speaks about the values which are necessary for making a nation strong and prosperous. He reveals the secret of a nation’s strength. The poet takes into consideration the various elements and analyses (that) which of those elements are useful for forming the strong foundation of a nation. Finally, he concludes that the success of a nation lies with its manpower and not with gold, arms and ammunition.
The poem “A Nation’s Strength” has been written by an American poet, “Ralph Waldo Emerson”. The poem begins with the poet wondering what makes a strong and prosperous nation. The poet has used metaphor to compare a nation to a
building. He says it is not the wealth that makes a nation great. He says the kingdoms that rely on wealth collapse because its foundations are laid on sinking sand which does not provide solid support like a rock. Next, he takes the power into consideration. He says history bears a witness to the destruction of the nations that depended on weapons for their success. He says such nations only cause the blood of their people to go waste and ultimately such a nation goes to dogs.
Next, he speaks of pride and nullifies this element with resentment. He says the nations that thought highly of themselves (that) were full of the arrogance of their glory were reduced to mere dust and ashes when God’s wrath struck them.
In the concluding two stanzas, the poet says that it’s the people of a nation and not its wealth, gold, jewels etc that make it strong. He says the courageous people who dare to suffer for the sake of their nation stand firm. He says while sluggish people sleep, those brave men work and face the odds while the cowards run away. Such are the men who lay a deep and strong foundation on which a great nation can stand.
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Qno1: In the first stanza, the poet wonders about certain things. What are they?
Ans: The poet wonders about the things that make a nation’s pillars high, its foundation strong. He wonders what makes a nation powerful enough to fight its enemies.
Qno2: What are the foundations of a strong kingdom built on?
Ans: The foundations of a strong kingdom are built on its brave and hardworking citizens, who stand fast for the truth and honour of their nation and face all the hurdles to make their nation great.
Qno3: What happens to a nation which depends on an army to keep it strong?
Ans: The nation that depends on an army to keep it strong is reduced to rust and decay. The bloodshed of its people takes away all the glory of such a nation.
Qno4: When a nation becomes proud, what does God do?
Ans: When a nation becomes proud, God crashes down all its prosperity and glory and reduces it to mere ashes.
Qno5: Do you think that wealth can make a nation great and strong? Why?
Ans: No, wealth does not have the power to make a nation great and strong because wealth is a temporal thing, it cannot last forever. It only makes a nation boastful and arrogant, thereby causing its downfall.
Qno6: What can the brave do?
Ans: The brave and courageous can suffer great amount of hardships still remain steadfast and dare to risk their pleasure and their happiness for the sake of their country. The have an unwavering passion to work for the betterment of their nation.
Qno7: Explain the following lines:
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky
Ans: The poet in these lines is referring to the brave and courageous men who by their unwavering determination and steady toil lay foundations of a strong nation. Such are the people who can make their nation achieve great heights and provide strength to the nation at its core.