English CBSE Class 11 NCERT Snapshot Chapter 8 The Tale of Melon City – Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words
THE TALE OF MELON CITY
Author – Vikram Seth
In the city of which I sing
There was a just and placid King.
The King proclaimed an arch should be
Constructed, that triumphally
Would span the major thoroughfare
To edify spectators there.
|Just||One who does and likes justice|
|Triumphally||A sign of victory, Majestically|
|Major thoroughfare||Main road|
|Edify||Improve, Make pleasant,|
|In the city of which I sing||Alliteration|
|Would span the major thoroughfare||Alliteration|
I am narrating this poem about a city whose King favoured justice and he remained calm. The King ordered that a big gate or arch be constructed in the city. This will be symbol of his victory. This arch was to be constructed on the main road of the city. The King thought that it will improve beauty of the city for all residents and visitors.
The workmen went and built the thing.
They did so since he was the King.
The King rode down the thoroughfare
To edify spectators there.
Under the arch he lost his crown.
The arch was built too low.
|Rode down||Walked through|
|Built too low||Its height was very less|
|The workmen went and built the thing.||Alliteration|
|The workmen went and built the thing.||Repetition|
|They did so since he was the King.||Alliteration|
The workers obeyed orders of the King. They went to the site and constructed the arch. After it was completed the King went there to inaugurate it. The King walked on the main road and through the arch. Many residents of the city had gathered there to see their King. They were happy to see their King. The crown of the King touched bottom of the arch because its height was less. The crown fell down from the head of the King.
A frown Appeared upon his placid face.
The King said, ‘This is a disgrace.
The chief of builders will be hanged.’
The rope and gallows were arranged.
The chief of builders was led out.
He passed the King. He gave a shout,
‘O King, it was the workmen’s fault’
|Frown||Expression of anger|
|Gallows||Structure for hanging a person|
|Passed the King||Came before the King|
|He passed the King. He gave a shout,||Repetition|
|‘O King, it was the workmen’s fault’||Alliteration|
An expression of anger appeared on the face of the King. The King said that it an insult to him that his crown had fallen down. He ordered that the chief builder should be hanged. Structure for hanging was made and a rope was tied to it. The chief builder was brought before the King. The chief builder said that it was not his fault. The workmen had not constructed it properly.
‘Oh!’ said the King, and called a halt
To the proceedings. Being just
(And placider now) he said, ‘I must
Have all the workmen hanged instead.’
The workmen looked surprised, and said,
‘O King, you do not realise
The bricks were made of the wrong size.’
The King ordered to stop hanging of the chief of builder. He believed in justice. His face had become more calm now. He ordered that instead of the chief builder, all the workmen should be hanged. The workmen were surprised at this new order. The requested the King to listen to their plea. They said the mason had made bricks of wrong size..
‘Summon the masons!’ said the King.
The masons stood there quivering.
‘It was the architect…’, they said,
|Summon||To call, To order to be present|
The King orders to call the masons. The masons came and stood in front of the King. They were trembling because of fear. They said that they did not make any mistake. It is the fault of architect.
The architect was summoned.
‘Well, architect,’ said His Majesty.
‘I do ordain that you shall be
Hanged.’ Said the architect, ‘O King,
You have forgotten one small thing.
You made certain amendments to
The plans when I showed them to you.’
|His Majesty||Words used for the king or someone of high authority|
The King ordered that the architect should be hanged. The architect reminded one small thing to the King. He said that the King had made some changes in the design made by him.
The King heard this. The King saw red.
In fact he nearly lost his head;
But being a just and placid King
He said, ‘This is a tricky thing.
I need some counsel. Bring to me
The wisest man in this country.’
|Saw red||Became very angry suddenly|
|Lost his head||Become upset and lose one’s calm|
|Tricky||Complicated, Not easy to decide|
|The King heard this. The King saw red.||Repetition|
|In fact he nearly lost his head;||Alliteration|
|He said, ‘This is a tricky thing.||Alliteration|
|The wisest man in this country.’||Alliteration|
After listening to the architect the King suddenly became very angry. Actually he became so upset that he almost lost his calm. But he was a justice loving and calm King so he quickly controlled himself. He said that this situation was very complicated. I need to consult a wise person. Please call the wisest person of this country.
The wisest man was found and brought,
Nay, carried, to the Royal Court.
He could not walk and could not see,
So old (and therefore wise) was he —
But in a quavering voice he said,
‘The culprit must be punished.
Truly, the arch it was that banged
The crown off, and it must be hanged’.
|Culprit||Defaulter, Wrong doer|
|He could not walk and could not see,||Repetition|
|Truly, the arch it was that banged||Alliteration|
The wisest man of the country was found and brought before the King in his Royal Court. Actually he was very week. He could neither walk nor see. So he had to be carried to the Royal Court. He was considered wisest person because he was the oldest person. He said in a trembling voice that the culprit must be hanged. Actually the ach had struck against the head of the King, so the arch should be hanged.
To the scaffold the arch was led
When suddenly a Councillor said —
‘How can we hang so shamefully
What touched your head, Your Majesty?’
‘True,’ mused the King. By now the crowd,
Restless, was muttering aloud.
|Scaffold||Platform for hanging someone|
|Mutter||To speak in a low voice|
|When suddenly a Councillor said||Alliteration|
|What touched your head, Your Majesty?’||Repetition|
|Restless, was muttering aloud.||Oxymoron|
A platform for hanging of the arch was made and the arch was brought upto that platform. Suddenly one of the ministers said that we should not hang the arch. It has touched the head of the King. Thus it has blessed the King. The King carefully thought about it. In the meantime the crowd had become impatient. Everyone was talking slowly. But collectively their voice had become loud.
The King perceived their mood and trembled
And said to all who were assembled —
‘Let us postpone consideration
Of finer points like guilt. The nation
Wants a hanging. Hanged must be
Someone, and that immediately.’
|Finer points||Minor aspects|
|The King perceived their mood and trembled||Alliteration|
|And said to all who were assembled||Alliteration|
|Of finer points like guilt. The nation||Oxymoron|
|Wants a hanging. Hanged must be||Alliteration|
The King understood the mood of the crowd that it wanted the culprit to be hanged. The King became excited and equally eager. To all the people who had gathered there, he said that we should postpone the minor aspect of finding out the guilty. The country wants that somebody should be hanged. So we must immediately hang someone.
The noose was set up somewhat high.
Each man was measured by and by.
But only one man was so tall
He fitted. One man. That was all.
He was the King. His Majesty
Was therefore hanged by Royal Decree.
|Noose||The rope for hanging someone|
|By and by||Within short period of time,|
|Royal Decree||Order of the King|
|The noose was set up somewhat high.||Alliteration|
|Each man was measured by and by.||Alliteration|
A rope was put up on the platform. It was set up a bit high. Each person present there came to the noose to measure one’s height. But height of only one person was found to be equal to that of the noose. That person was the King himself. Therefore as per the order of the King of the country, he was hanged.
‘Thank Goodness we found someone,’ said
The Ministers, ‘for if instead
We had not, the unruly town
Might well have turned against the Crown.’
‘Long live the King!’ the Ministers said.
‘Long live the King! The King is dead.’
|Against the Crown||Against the King|
|‘Long live the King!’ the Ministers said.||Alliteration|
|Long live the King! The King is dead.||Irony|
The ministers thanked themselves that they could find a person to hang. Otherwise the agitated people of the town would have revolted against the King. They said that may the King live for long time. They again said that may the King live for long time. And the King is dead.
They pondered the dilemma; then,
Being practical-minded men,
Sent out the heralds to proclaim
(In His [former] Majesty’s name):
‘The next to pass the City Gate
Will choose the ruler of our state,
As is our custom. This will be
Enforced with due ceremony.’
|Dilemma||Difficult situation, Problem|
|They pondered the dilemma; then,||Alliteration|
|They pondered the dilemma; then,||Assonance|
|The next to pass the City Gate||Repetition|
The ministers thought about the difficult situation because of the death of King. They were very practical person. They quickly thought of a solution. They asked messengers to move around the country. By the orders of the former King, they were ordered to make an announcement in the public. The order was that the first person to enter the city will select the King of the city. This was the custom of their city. The order further declared that a new person will be made King in a big ceremony.
A man passed by the City Gate.
An idiot. The guards cried, ‘Wait!
Who is to be the King? Decide!’
‘A melon,’ the idiot replied.
This was his standard answer to
All questions. (He liked melons.)
A man crossed the gate of the city to enter into the city. He was a fool. The guards stopped him. They asked him who should become the King of this city. The man replied ‘a melon’. He liked melons. So to every question this was his answer.
‘You Are now our King,’ the Ministers said,
Crowning a melon. Then they led
(Carried) the Melon to the throne
And reverently set it down.
|Reverently||With lot of respect|
|Crowning a melon. Then they led||Assonance|
The minister told the melon that it was their new King. They put the crown on it. The ministers with lot of respect carried the melon to the throne. They put it on the thrown.
This happened years and years ago.
When now you ask the people, ‘So —
Your King appears to be a melon.
How did this happen?’, they say, ‘Well, on
Account of customary choice.
If His Majesty rejoice
|Years and years ago||Many years ago, Long time ago|
|On account of||Because|
|This happened years and years ago.||Repetition|
|How did this happen?’, they say, ‘Well, on||Alliteration|
|Account of customary choice.||Alliteration|
This event or story had occurred a long time ago. Many outsiders ask people of the town why a melon is their King. How did a melon become your King. They reply that it is because of the custom of the town to choose a king. That customs was decided by our King.
In being a melon, that’s OK
With us, for who are we to say
What he should be as long as he
Leaves us in Peace and Liberty?’
The principles of laissez faire
Seem to be well-established there.
|Laissez faire||Not concerned, Accept whatever is happening|
|With us, for who are we to say||Alliteration|
|What he should be as long as he||Repetition|
|Leaves us in Peace and Liberty?’||Alliteration|
The people said they are OK if their King is a melon. We are not bothered who is our king if we are not troubled and our freedom is not disturbed. The principle of accepting whatever has happened was in the mind of the people.