Summary of Vocation

A vocation is a specific form of profession that requires a high level of commitment: a calling or destined career that provides the individual with exceptional satisfaction and fulfilment. Tagore’s free verse poem Vocation is narrated in the first person. The narrator is a young man who spends his day observing various people at work.

In the morning, the child was walking to school. In his lane, he noticed a hawker selling bangles. The hawker was not in a rush and moved about at his leisure. The hawker is free to take any route and return home whenever he pleases. He was not constrained in any way. To be free and joyful, the child desired to be a hawker.

In the afternoon, the child returned from school. Outside the home, he noticed a gardener. With his spade, he was digging the dirt. His clothing were soiled with soil, and he was working in the direct sunlight. Nobody attempted to stop him, and he continued to work independently. The child desired to be like him in order to avoid being punished for digging the earth. He desired payment in soil.

When it becomes dark in the evening, the mother places the child to bed. She tells him to go to sleep. Through his window, the boy observed a watchman. He was ascending and descending. The route was dark and lonely, yet the watchman was not halted. The watchman walked alongside his shadow, holding his lantern. He remained awake. The child desired to be a watchman, freely roaming the streets at night.


1. Gong – an  object made of metal which gives sound when struck 
2. Hawker – Person  who travels and shouts to sell goods 
3. Crystal – a jewel which looks clear and transparent just  like ice 
4. Vendor – a street salesman 
5. Digging – break up the soil or earth with hands or tools. 
6. Spade – a  sharp edged tool used for digging and cutting 
7. Baked in the sun – heated  because of excessive sunlight, excessive Sun exposure 
8. Digging away – to  devote serious and consistent effort 
9. Walking up and down – to  move back and forth, from one side to the other 
10. Giant – an  imaginary superhuman 
11. Swings – to  move from one side to another 
12. Chasing – pursue, run after 

Questions and Answers

1. Your partner and you may now be able to answer these questions.

(i) Who is the speaker in the poem? Who are the people the speaker meets?
What are they doing? 
Ans. The speaker in this poem is a school-going child. The speaker met a hawker, selling bangles on a road.  He saw a gardener, digging the ground outside his house. He saw a watchman, moving with his lantern in streets.

(ii) What wishes does the child in the poem make? Why does the child want to be a hawker, a gardener, or a watchman? Pick out the lines in each stanza, which tell us this. 
Ans. The child wanted to be a hawker or a gardener or a watchman in the poem because he was fed up with all the restrictions put on him. He wanted to enjoy freedom like them. 
The child says 
(a) I wish I were a hawker, spending my day in the road.  (b) I wish I were a gardener digging away at the garden. 
(c) I wish I were a watchman walking the street all night.


1. What did the child mention about the hawker? 
Ans. The poet said that the hawker was not in a hurry. There was no specific road which he must take. There was no fixed time for him to return his home. 

2. Describe the activity of the watchman. 
Ans. The watchman was walking on the dark and lonely lane with his lantern. He was following his shadow at one side. He never went to bed in his life, according to the child.  

3. What kind of life is led by the hawker, watchman and gardener? 
Ans. The hawker, watchman and gardener are performing vocational tasks. They are leading their life the way they wants to. There is no restriction on them.  


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