Short Questions (2 Marks)
Question 1 : Why can’t people in the Northland sleep through the nights during winter?
Answer : The people in the Northland are not able to sleep through the nights during winter because the nights are very cold and long. Due to excessive cold and long duration, people often get up in the middle of nights.
Question 2 : ‘For she was changes to a bird’. Who was she and why she changed to a bird?
Answer : ‘She’ was a little woman living in the Northland, who, in her selfishness, did not give anything to eat to Saint Peter when he visited her house. She was punished by being changed into a woodpecker bird, so that she would always have to look for her food.
Question 3 : What is a ballad? Is this poem a ballad?
Answer : A ballad is a song narrating a story in short stanzas which is passed on orally from one generation to the next.
This poem is also a ballad, as it recounts the story of a little woman who is punished by Saint Peter for her selfishness.
Question 4 : The what have the children in the Northland been compared?(Why?)
Answer : The children in the Northland have been compared to bear cubs because the place is very cold and they have to wear fur clothes, to protest themselves so they look like bear cubs.
Question 5 : The poet says, ‘I don’t believe ’tis true; and yet you may learn a lesson.’ What does the poet believe? Why does she want to tell the tale?
Answer : The poet believes that the story may not be true. She still wants to tell the story because it contains an important lesson for all, but particularly for children, that one should not be selfish or greedy but help the needy.
Question 6 : The poet says, ‘It seemed too large to give away.’ What does ‘it’ mean here? What does this sentences show about the little woman?
Answer : ‘It’ refers to the cake the woman had baked. However, even though it was a small cake, she felt in her selfishness that it was too large to give away. This shows her selfishness and mean nature.
Question 7 : ‘And surely such a woman was enough to provoke a saint.’ Who was the woman and how did she provoke the saint?
Answer : The woman was selfish and greedy, refusing to give him even a small cake to eat, although she was baking cakes at that time on her hearth. He was tired at the end of the day and his refusal provoked him.
Question 8 : “You are far too selfish to dwell in a human form.” Who said this to whom? Why did he say so?
Answer : Saint Peter said this to a little woman who refused to give him a cake to eat because of her selfishness. Saint Peter became angry at her due to this and said this, cursing her to change into a woodpecker.
Question 9 : Who was Saint Peter? How did he reach the little woman’s cottage?
Answer : Saint Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ. He travelled from place to place while preaching. He reached the little woman’s cottage at the end of a tiring day during his travels.
Question 10 : What did the woman feel about her cakes?
Answer : The woman felt that the cakes she had baked were too large to be given away, but appeared too small when she wanted to eat them. So she kept them on the shelf. Her feelings show her greedy nature.
Question 11 : Why was the woman punished by Saint Peter?
Answer : The woman was punished by Saint Peter to teach her a lesson not be be selfish or greedy. So he changed her into a woodpecker so that she would have to haunt for food and build her own shelter.
Question 12 : List some examples of repetition in the poem.
Answer : The examples are:
Stanza 9 : And rolled and rolled it flat;
Stanza 13 : By boring, and boring, and boring.
Stanza 16 : Boring and boring for food.
Long Questions (8 Marks)
Question 1 : Do you agree that this poem has become part of the folklore of the Northland? Support your answer with reasons from the poem.
Answer : Yet, this poem will have come part of the folklore of the Northland. This is because, in the last stanza of the poem, the poet says, ‘And every country schoolboy has seen her in the wood’, showing that the story has been paused down from one generation to the next, as the schoolboys know about it.
Also, in the second and third stanzas, the children are told this curious story, reinforcing the fact that it has become part of the folklore.
Question 2 : What is the theme of the poem, ‘A Legend of the Northland’?
Answer : The poem, ‘A Legend of the Northland’ carries the moral that we should not be selfish or greedy; instead we should help the needy. It is the story of a little woman who is baking cakes on her hearth when Saint Peter comes to her door. He asked her for one cake, but she felt that the cakes were too big to give away, despite trying to make smaller and smaller cakes. Ultimately she does not give him any, which makes him angry. He changes her into a woodpecker, which will always need to bore into hard dry wood with her beak to find food, thus giving the moral of the story. A saint maintains his cool most of the time but his tolerance gave away and St. Peter cursed the woman for being so ungenerous as not to part with even a small cake and give it to a hungry and tired traveller.