The Ball Poem
The Ball Poem
The Ball Poem Summary
The Ball Poem Introduction
About the Poet
- John Berryman was bom on October 25, 1914 in McAlester, Oklahoma in America. He was a renowned scholar and famous American poet.
- He was concerned with the literary movement, viz., Confessional Poetry.
- The Dream Songs’ is one of his notable works. It is an intensely personal sequence of 385 poems.
- He was bestowed with Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Bollingen Prize, etc.
- He died on January 7, 1972.
Central Idea of the Poem
In this poem, the poet has described the grief of a boy over the loss of his ball. This is the world of materialism. In this materialistic world, the things which you love will not always remain with you. In this life, you will be forced to do things that you do not want to do and you will have to give up the things which you love the most. All these may happen due to circumstances. In spite of all the circumstances, you must have to stand in good stead. It does not matter how much does it hurt. It teaches us to leam to accept and do not cling onto something that you can never have.
The Ball Poem Summary
In ‘ The Ball Poem ’, the poet has narrated the desperation and disappointment of a boy who has lost his ball. It was more lovable to him. For a common man, the loss of a ball is of minor significance. But to a little boy, this is not so. Money is external; it cannot buy back our love. It can also not replace the things that we love. The loss of the ball will teach the boy a lesson. This way he will leam how to accept the loss with tolerance and pleasure. Everyone has to lose something or the other in this world if he has to survive and fulfil his obligations. It is the part and parcel of life. But if you lose something you will have to stand up to be strong and get on with your life.
Poem at a Glance
- This poem is about a boy who lost his ball while playing.
- He saw the ball bouncing down the street.
- But ultimately it fell down into the river and lost for good.
- All the incidents occur before the boy but he is unable to do anything.
- He only repents at the loss of a ball.
- Although the loss of a ball is considered to be an ordinary incident but the poet has given a deep thought to it.
- According to the poet, the loss of the ball is the loss of childhood and his dreams.
- If it is lost once, it never comes back again.
- The child is sad that the ball he has lost cannot be brought back.
- At last, change comes in the life of a boy.
- He draws this conclusion that loss is a part of human life.
- One should not grieve over one’s loss.
- The loss cannot break one’s spirits.
- One should face such losses with courage and determination.
English The Ball Poem Important Questions and Answers
I. Short Answer Type Questions (20-30 words & 2 marks each)
How was the ball valuable for the boy?
The ball was valuable for the boy is obvious from his reaction after losing it. He was much disappointed, dejected, shocked, fixed and stared at the place constantly where the ball had fallen.
What responsibility is the poet referring to?
The poet is referring to the responsibility of the boy, who lost his ball and then stands up and bears the loss through self-understanding.
Write the sum and substance of the poem ‘The Ball Poem’.
The poet, John Berryman tells us how quickly our childhood can go, like the pace at which the ball is lost in the poem and how at times we must face the hardships like loss unsuspectingly in our life.
What is the boy’s state of mind at the loss of his ball?
The boy is very disturbed at the loss of his ball. He keeps staring at the ball with his desperate eyes.
II. Short Answer Type Questions (40-50 words & 3 marks each)
“And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.” What does these lines denote?
These lines denote that no one can buy something that is lost for good. Here, the poet has compared money with an external thing. Nobody can buy the boy that very ball which he has lost. Money is a medium of possessing things. Even money cannot buy a ball back to the boy. The poet wants to make the boy aware of the loss.
What message does the poet want to convey through ‘The Ball Poem’?
The poet has given a very positive message through the poem. He has tried to convey that gain and loss are the part and parcel of life. But one must be aware about the knowledge of loss. We may repent over the losses we have suffered from. But one must try to face even the adverse circumstances with good stead.
How did the boy react to the loss of the ball or was he fearful of something? Explain on the basis of the poem.
When the ball of the boy lost, he was very upset. He was not fearful of anyone. He was really shocked, grief-stricken and disappointed. The ball might be a little thing and easily available, but the loss of the ball taught a lesson to the boy. Money can give only external happiness and satisfaction. It can not give us emotional satisfaction.
Write the theme of the poem, ‘The Ball Poem’.
Each individual has fascination for something. But if we lose something that we love, we
should not feel disappointed, desperate and dejected. We should just try to bear the loss through our understanding. This is what the poem is all about.
Why does the poet say, “Balls will be lost always”?
Here, balls symbolise man’s possession. These are dearer to us than the others. But nothing is permanent in this world. Everything is transitory. When we lose something, we suffer from a sense of loss. It happens in everyone’s life. That is why the poet says the ball will always be lost.
Why did the poet not console the boy?
There are two reasons behind it. Firstly, the boy was too shocked and grief-stricken to know about the loss of the ball. Secondly, the boy was trying to bear the loss on his own through self-understanding which is much more lasting. Due to these reasons, the poet did not console the boy.
III. Long Answer Type Questions (100-120 words & 5 marks each)
What is the epistemology of loss in this world of possessions? How far has the child learned to stand up in life? Substantiate it on the basis of the poem.
The poet has tried to show that gain or loss are the part and parcel of life. These are the two facets of the same coin. At the loss of his ball, the boy is very depressed and dejected. It is not only the matter of an ordinary ball but the boy’s association and memories with the ball. The ball once lost will be lost for ever. But what is the ultimate solution to this problem? In this materialistic world, it is the notion of people that money can buy everything. But this notion is totally wrong. Money has its own limitations. It can compensate the financial losses to certain extent but it can not compensate the losses that a person suffers emotionally or internally. No money can buy back that ball that has been lost for good. It cannot buy even the lost childhood. But even in the adverse circumstances, the boy will have to stand in good stead. He must not repent over the losses. On the contrary, he should have to go ahead in his life.
Elaborate the idea that “one should learn to accept and let go and not stick to something that we can not have.”
It is important for everyone to experience to accept the loss and be bold and get on with life. Staying strong is the only way to survive. One should understand that the past is gone and will never come back. Sometimes loss helps us to grow up and we are able to face hardships like loss. We also leam to accept and let go and not to stick to something which we can not have.
Why is it important for everyone to experience loss and to stand up after it?
It is important for everyone to experience loss and to stand up after it in order to be strong and to get on with life. One must be strong irrespective of how much it hurts inside. Staying strong is the only way to survive. Moreover, one needs to leam to accept and let go and not cling to something that they can never have. One should understand that the past is gone and it will never come back. Sometimes loss helps us to grow up and face hardships. So, we must look at it with positive perspective.
I would not intrude on him,
A time, another ball, is worthless. Now
He senses first responsibility
In a world of possession.
On the basis of the given passage, what message does the poet want to convey through this?
Through this, the poet has tried to convey that this world is materialistic. The boy who has lost his ball must understand the profoundness or intensity of loss. Although the ball is a small thing and it does not matter if it gets lost, he must understand to take the responsibility from the very beginning of his life. Another ball is worthless for the boy. Because he has lost something dear to him. He suffers from a sense of loss. He senses responsibility when his possessed ball is lost. The main thing that the poet wants to convey to us is that money cannot compensate for the loss of boy. Through this the poet also realises what is his first responsibility in such a world. The boy must inculcate the value of loss or gain from his childhood because then only he can become a sensible and rational man in the latter part of his life.
English The Ball Poem Textbook Questions and Answers
Thinking about the Poem
1. Why does the poet say, “I would not intrude on him”? Why doesn’t he offer him money to buy another ball?
The poet says so because the boy has lost his ball. He is quite unhappy. He wants the boy to learn the meaning of loss on his own. He does not offer him money to buy another ball because according to him, money or another ball is worthless. The boy was trying to understand his responsibility because he had lost something, which could not be brought back.
2. staring down/All his young days into the harbour where/His ball went…”
Do you think the boy has had the ball for a long time? Is it linked to the memories of days when he played with it?
Yes, it seems like the boy has had the ball for a long time. He had more affection with the ball. When it bounced into the water, all his memories of the childhood days flashed in his mind. This led to a realisation that those moments would not come back, just like the ball. He can buy new balls but the moments which had gone would never come again.
3. What does “in the world of possessions” mean?
“In the world of possessions” means the materialistic world. Here everything and every action is made to possess something, whether it is the possession of land, property, money, or anything else. This would make the boy realise that this is the world of possessions where one can possess more things by buying them. One cannot buy what has been lost.
4. Do you think the boy has lost anything earlier? Pick out the words that suggest the answer.
No, it seems that the boy has not lost anything earlier. The words that suggest so are ‘He senses first responsibility, in the world of possessions’.
5. What does the poet say the boy is learning from the loss of the ball? Try to explain this in your own words.
The poet suggests that from the loss of the ball, the boy is just learning about the loss and how it hurts. The boy gets upset with this loss. The boy is learning what it means to lose something. Every man has to stand up after such losses. The boy too will learn how to stand up and leave the losses behind as he would have understood the true meaning and nature of loss.
6. Have you ever lost something you liked very much? Write a paragraph describing how you felt then, and saying whether — and how — you got over your loss.
Yes, I have lost numerous things, but the loss of a dictionary really shocked me. The price of money does not matter here but the dictionary of Dr. Kamil Bulke – from English to Hindi really was an indispensable book to me, because I had leamt a lot of words and their uses from it. It not only enriched my vocabulary but also helped me learn idioms and phrases. I had bought it by saving my pocket money, that is why I really liked it much. Finally my loss was compensated. One of my friends suggested me to go to the store where I got an old piece of dictionary. I got really happy and purchased it. This way I overcome the loss.