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Keeping Quiet Summary

Flamingo - Poem 3 Keeping Quiet - Pablo Neruda The poem, Glossary, Summary, Questions, and Answers - Poem- Now we will count to twelve and w...

Flamingo - Poem 3

Keeping Quiet - Pablo Neruda

The poem, Glossary, Summary, Questions, and Answers -


Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the Earth

let's not speak in any language,

let's stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment

without rush, without engines,

we would all be together

in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea

would not harm whales

and the man gathering salt

would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars with gas, wars with fire,

victory with no survivors.

would put on clean clothes 

and walk about with their 


in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be 


with total inactivity.

Life is what it is about;

I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded

about keeping our lives moving,

and for once could do nothing,

perhaps a huge silence

might interrupt this sadness

of never understanding ourselves

and threatening ourselves with


Perhaps the Earth can teach us

as when everything seems dead

and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve

and you keep quiet and I will go.


1. exotic - unusual

2. strangeness - peculiar, unique

3. hurt - harm

4. inactivity - idleness

5. introspection - self-analysis

Summary -

The poem, " Keeping Quiet" is written by the poet, Pablo Neruda, but his original name is, " Neftali Richard Reyes Basoalto" and he writes under the pen name Pablo Neruda. His poems include simple language and easily understood images and won the Nobel prize for literature in the year 1971. In this poem, Neruda talks about the necessity of quiet introspection and creating a feeling of mutual understanding among human beings.

In this poem, the poet suggests to us the importance of silence and self-examining our actions and how we can make this world a better place. He appeals that we are continuously indulged in activities without examination and that is the only reason behind our sadness, wars, fear of death, and destruction of nature. If we practice silence for a while, we can eradicate all the evil forces of life, but it does not mean that he is an advocate of total inactivity, only a little stillness is required to understand each other in a better way.

He also says that man is always active and can not remain inactive for a longer time, but little stillness is enough and man can take inspiration from mother earth, as she is the best teacher and how it balances her activities. Many times, we see natural entities such as the Earth, and the Sea very calm, quiet, and still but it does not mean that they are not active, but their stillness is only for a while, and later they become active, in the same manner, if we remain still and silent for a while in every 24 hours, we can manifest our lives in a better and peaceful way, that is the massage given by the poet in the above poem.

Think it out -

1. What will counting up to twelve and keeping still help us achieve?

Ans - By counting up to twelve and keeping still will help us to achieve peace, harmony, and brotherhood. When we are indulged in continuous activities, we do not know what would be its consequences, because neither we think about ourselves or about others. But if we remain silent for a while and do nothing, then we can understand each other in a better way, feel nature and understand the goal of our life.

2. Do you think the poet advocates total inactivity and death?

Ans - No, the poet does not advocate total inactivity and death. He just wants to say that all our activities are self-centered and we do not think of others, if we self-examine our activities by performing silence for a while, then we can avoid many destructions, wars, and even death, and understand nature and bring peace. The poet advocates silence and stillness and believes that the quality of silence can remove all the negativity and evil forces from the earth, and protect our environment and nature.

3. What is the "sadness" that the poet refers to in the poem?

Ans -The reason behind the "sadness" of the human being is that we are continuously rushing in our activities without thinking, about where these activities would lead us, and what would be the outcome. So here the poet suggests if we take a brief silence during our activities, we can understand ourselves in a better manner. The second reason for our sadness is fear of death. Silence will definitely bring a new perspective to our goal and we can choose the right path in life.

4. What symbol of nature does the poet invoke to say that there can be life under apparent stillness?

Ans - In this poem, the poet invokes that nature or the Earth is the best teacher of mankind, but many times we just overlook it, because till today whatever progress man has achieved is only by taking inspiration and information from nature. As the earth is always active even in its stillness and tries to bring balance, in the same manner, we should try to balance our activities, but it is only possible when we remain silent for a while and examine our activities. 

The theme of the poem can be cleared from a simple example, we have seen that the sea becomes more active and shows us the scene of death, meaning it becomes very destructive and after a while, it becomes so loving, calm, and peaceful that we get fascinated towards its stillness.

If we too want the same in our life, we should learn to remain silent for some time, then only we can bring peace and coolness in our life and can protect ourselves, others, and the environment, and then we will no longer have the fear of death. So continuous activities bring destruction and silence brings peace.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.                                                                                                                                                                - LAO TZU

My Perspective About the Poem - We live in the age of science and technology, and to fulfill our needs, and responsibilities, we are continuously running behind something or we are in a hurry to get something, and at that pace, we don't find some time to hold or remain still, and that is the only cause of our fear or sadness, if we take some time in a day to meditate or to witness the power of silence, we can really mend our lives in a prosperous way. It can be observed in the early morning, we feel very energetic and inspired in the morning because, at this time, there is no kind of noise on the Earth, and this massage of Keeping quiet is very well portrayed by the poet, Pablo Neruda, and regular practice of Keeping Quite will change the world.



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