The Golden Lyre

the golden lyre

The Golden Lyre is a wonderful collection of poems for the ICSE English Literature Syllabus. 15 of these poems are included in the 2011 - 2012 ICSE English Literature Syllabus. This is a varied collection including poems on various themes such as faith (Ballad of Father Gilligan), love (Our Casuarina Tree, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Night of the Scorpion), jealousy (The Frog and the Nightingale), admiration (Shakespeare), freedom (The Slave's dream), life (If, Laugh and be Merry), death (Because I Could not Stop for Death), war (No Men are Foreign), patriotism (To India my Native Land), contemporary social situations (A River) and philosophical reflections (The Road Not Taken, The Indian who died in Africa). Again, authors have been selected from all over the world so that ICSE students get a flavour of various styles of writing and poetic diction.

Target ICSE brings to you the The Golden Lyre Complete online guidebook. It has been designed specifically for ICSE Students. Every poem is treated separately, with detailed summary, annotations, notes on title & theme, critical appreciation, ICSE pattern workbook with solved questions and assignments. The students are not only sure to benefit in their ICSE preparation and get good marks, they will surely see poetry in a new light and learn to love and appreciate it.

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  • If - Rudyard Kipling



    Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is a rather well known and very inspiring didactic (instructional) poem. The poem was written by Kipling in 1909 while he was living in Great Britain.

    It was originally written as a companion piece to the children’s story “Brother Square Toes,” a story that portrays George Washington’s as a great and exemplary leader. It deals with Washington's presidency during the French Revolution.

    “If” was placed immediately after this story in order to distill the lessons of the story; the poem also offers a lesson in the characteristics and virtues of a model public figure or leader. “If” is a didactic poem - a work meant to give instruction. It states a number of practical characteristics that a man should or should not possess in order to be an ideal leader.

    The poem is found in many modern anthologoies. The message is inspiring, though sometimes the qualities enlisted appear  to be too ideal to be achievable. In spite of that, the poem has acquired a cult status and is a modern classic.


  • A River - A. K. Ramanujan

    A river


    A.K. Ramanujan’s poem “A River” is a marvelous piece of sarcastic criticism intended at the poets who only look at the beautiful things of life and mindlessly imitate the same lines quoted by other poets. But these poets ignore the harsh realities, the unpleasant aspects of life. The poem on the one hand is a evocation of the river and on the other a means for exposing the insensitive approach of not only the old poets but also the new poets as well.

  • The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost

    The Road not Taken

    The Road Not Taken is a four stanza poem, one of the most popular and also controversial pieces of beauty and musicality.The poem expresses the dilemma of everyman in matter of making a choice when faced with options.

    Robert Frost said about his poem:

    “One stanza of The Road Not Taken was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: Was found three or four years later, and I couldn’t bear not to finish it. I wasn’t thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way.”

  • Because I Could not Stop for Death - Emily Dickinson

    Because I Could not Stop for Death - Emily Dickinson

    In the poem Because I could not stop for Death, Emily Dickinson expresses her views on life, death and immortality. Death is personified as a polite lover who very gently stops his chariot for the poet. The poet seems to be in love with death for whose civility she puts away both her “labor” and “leisure.”
    The poem is well appreciated for its original approach towards death. Death in this poem bears no terror rather it is welcomed by the poet. She refers to Death as her friend and suitor who has called upon her to travel with him through the ways to eternity.

  • Night of the Scorpion - Nissim Ezekiel

    Night of the Scorpion - Nissim Ezekiel

    Nissim Ezekiel's 'Night of the Scorpion' is the poet's personal account of his memory of his mother being stung by a scorpion when he was a child. It is one of the finest poems of Ezekiel. Night of the Scorpion was published in “The Exact Name” in 1965.

    “Night of the Scorpion” is a poignant poem about maternal love. With the help of imagery, relating to the senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing, the poet depicts the selfless love of a mother who was stung by a scorpion in a rainy night. She was about to die and yet was thankful that the scorpion had bitten her and spent her children.

  • No Men are Foreign - James Kirkup

    No Men are Foreign - James Kirkup

    James Kirkup was born and brought up in a world where war was raging large. These were the massively destructive world wars that changed the face of the earth forever.Like many young men of his day James Kirkup was horrified by the ugly face of war and in many of his poems he sought to send across a message of universal brotherhood. The fact that he lived in many countries and amongst people of diverse cultures, only deepened his belief in the essential oneness of all humanity. In this poem also his message is that - no men are foreign, all human beings are same.

    The poem No Men are Foreign is an appeal for universal brotherhood. The idea of the poem is that all men are equal though are separated by boundaries. There lies no real difference between men of different nations; the difference is in the way of perception and can be done away with. The differences are superficial and pertain only to skin-colour, dress and food habits. Beneath the skin, all men are the same.

  • To the Indian who died in Africa - T. S. Eliot

    To the Indian who died in Africa - T. S. Eliot

    The poem To the Indian who died in Africa portrays the idea stated in the Bhagwad Gita that one should carry on with his work regardless of reward. Action is important regardless of its usefulness. It is possible to know of the value of the work done after death when God will deliver judgement on our actions - whether our action was right or wrong.

    The poem was written at the request of Miss Cornelia Sorabji to be included in the commemorative volume, titled Queen Mary's Book for India. The poem appealed Bonamy Dobree greatly and was dedicated to her.

    The occasion of the poem was World War II with its attendant horrors. The book Queen Mary's Book for India was dedicated to those Indians who laid down their lives in the interest of the British Empire. It was intended to carry the a message of sympathy from the Queen to the Indians- especially the families of the soldiers.

  • Shakespeare - Matthew Arnold

    Shakespeare - Matthew Arnold

    Shakespeare” by Matthew Arnold is one great poet's tribute to another. It s a sonnet that celebrates the genius of Shakespeare; the in-approachability of Shakespeare’s genius to other people. Arnold states that Shakespeare dwells among the stars (divine imagination) and sunbeams (divine knowledge). He remains beyond human understanding or critique. The poem is written in the neatly structured form of the Petrarchan sonnet.

  • To India - My Native Land - HLV Derozio

    To India - My Native Land - HLV Derozio

    To India my Native Land is a patriotic poem by HLV Derozio. This poem was written in the 1820s when India was suffering from the injustices of the British Rule. The poet seeks to revive India's lost glory by reminiscing the past and re-constructing India’s greatness.

  • Our Casuarina Tree - Toru Dutt

    Casuarina Tree

    Our Casuarina Tree’ is a deeply evocative poem - an attempt by the poet to recapture her past and immortalize it. The tree is presented both as a symbol and as an object of nature and in it, the poet projects both time and eternity.

    The major part of the poem is filled with memories of the past and happy childhood days. She remembers her companions, how much she loved them and was loved in return. The sensitivity of the poet made her pay attention to every detail. The vivid description reveals her sharp power of observation. For example, the giant creeper is compared with a huge Python. Water-lilies are compared with enmassed snow.

  • La Belle Dame Sans Merci - John Keats

    La Belle Dame Sans Merci - John Keats

    La Belle Dame sans Merci (French: "The Beautiful Lady Without Pity") is a ballad written by the English poet John Keats in the year 1819. Keats was a Romantic Poet for whom the Medieval world was a source of inspiration. Many of his poems have medieval themes, characters and sources. In this poem, Keats uses the title of a Medieval (15th century) poem by Alain Chartier. But only the title is same. The two poems are otherwise very different.

    The poem La Belle Dame sans Merci is considered an English classic and is fairly representative of Keats. The poem is full of mysterious elements, and has enchanted readers for hundreds of years.

    The poem describes the condition of an unnamed knight after his encounter with a mysterious woman. She is called "a faery's child." As the poem opens we see the "haggard" and "palely loitering" knight. The rest of the poem is about how the knight came to be in such a condition and situation.

  • The Ballad of Father Gilligan - W.B. Yeats

    The Ballad of Father Gilligan - W.B. Yeats

  • Laugh and be Merry - John Masefield

    Laugh and be Merry

    Laugh and be Merry is a rather simple poem with a simple message and theme: to be cheerful always, in all situations and spend one's life in a happy manner. Life is short and that is what the poet emphasizes by comparing it at various times to a thread, or a inn or a game. It will all come to an end soon and it is better to spend the while in a fun and cheerful manner.

  • The Slave's Dream - H.W. Longfellow

    The Slave's Dream

    The poem The Slave's Dream is an ode to Liberty marked by the wonderful imagery that brings it alive. The poet recreates the gorgeous landscape of Africa, with the "lordly" Niger, the palm trees, the tinkling caravans, the dark eyed queen, the bright flamingos, the caffre huts and the river horse.. The poet brings out the inner glory of the slave's spirit as it breaks free from the human fetters and escapes to the freedom that death brings with it.

  • The Frog and the Nightingale - Vikram Seth

    The Frog and the NightingaleThe Frog and the Nightingale
    The poem The Frog and the Nightingale is a fable by the renowned Indian novelist and poet Vikram Seth. The poem, as all fables, uses animal characters to satirize human characters and society. It tells the tragic story of the very talented but foolish nightingale which met its death by falling into the trap set by the malicious and jealous frog. The poem not only condemns the cunning frog, but also suggests that it is no good being talented unless one is aware of one's talents and is prudent enough to be able use discretion as regards whose advice should be followed and whose advice not followed.