A Legend of the Northland – English Summary:
This poem narrates the legend of an old lady who angered Saint Peter because of her greed.
NCERT Class 9 English Poetry Northern Legend teaches us a strong character that should not be selfish and considerate of others. This poem teaches us to be generous and to help the needy if we can do that.
Away, away in the Northland,
Where the hours of the day are few,
And the nights are so long in winter
That they cannot sleep them through;
Where they harness the swift reindeer
To the sledges, when it snows;
And the children look like bear’s cubs
In their funny, furry clothes:
They tell them a curious story
I don’t believe ’tis true;
And yet you may learn a lesson
If I tell the tale to you.
Once, when the good Saint Peter
Lived in the world below,
And walked about it, preaching,
Just as he did, you know,
He came to the door of a cottage,
In travelling around the earth,
Where a little woman was making cakes,
And baking them on the hearth;
And being faint with fasting,
For the day was almost done,
He asked her, from her store of cakes,
To give him a single one.
So she made a very little cake,
But as it baking lay,
She looked at it and thought it seemed
Too large to give away.
Therefore she kneaded another,
And still a smaller one;
But it looked, when she turned it over,
As large as the first had done.
Then she took a tiny scrap of dough,
And rolled and rolled it flat;
And baked it thin as a wafer
But she couldn’t part with that.
For she said, “My cakes that seem too small
When I eat of them myself
Are yet too large to give away.”
So she put them on the shelf.
Then good Saint Peter grew angry,
For he was hungry and faint;
And surely such a woman
Was enough to provoke a saint.
And he said, “You are far too selfish
To dwell in a human form,
To have both food and shelter,
And fire to keep you warm.
Now, you shall build as the birds do,
And shall get your scanty food
By boring, and boring, and boring,
All-day in the hard, dry wood.”
Then up she went through the chimney,
Never speaking a word,
And out of the top flew a woodpecker,
For she was changed to a bird.
She had a scarlet cap on her head,
And that was left the same;
But all the rest of her clothes were burned
Black as a coal in the flame.
And every country schoolboy
Has seen her in the wood,
Where she lives in the trees till this very day,
Boring and boring for food.
A Legend of the Northland Summary by Questions and Answers:
I. 1) Which country or countries do you think “the Northland” refers to?
Ans: It is a country in the north where days are short and nights are long.
2) It is a country in the north where days are short and nights are long.
Ans: Saint Peter asked the old lady for a piece of cake. The lady behaved miserly and kept decreasing the size of the cake. At last, she did not give him anything to eat.
3) How did he punish her?
Ans: He cursed her and made her a woodpecker.
4) How does the woodpecker get her food?
Ans: The woodpecker bores the hard and dry wood to get its food.
5) Do you think that the old lady would have been so ungenerous if she had known who Saint Peter really was? What would she have done then?
Ans: No, she would not have done this. On the contrary, she would have given him a large piece of cake to make him happy with the greed to get a handsome return.
6) Is this a true story? Which part of this poem do you feel is the most important?
Ans: No, it is an imaginative story. It is a legend. The third stanza of the poem is very important.
7) What is a legend? Why is this poem called a legend?
Ans: A legend is a story from ancient times about people and events. The title of the poem tells that it is a legend. The poet himself says that ‘I don’t believe it is true.
8) Write the story of ‘A Legend of the Northland’ in about ten sentences.
Ans: She is asked by Saint Peter for alms who has become weak because of fasting and travelling. But her greed forces her not to give him anything. He becomes angry and makes her a woodpecker who bores hard, dry wood to get food. Her clothes are burnt to ashes and she is left with a cap on her head. She continues boring into hardwood for her little food.
II. 1) Let’s look at words at the end of the second and fourth lines, viz., ‘snows’ and ‘clothes’, ‘true’ and ‘you’, ‘below’ and ‘know’. We find that ‘snows’ rhymes with ‘clothes’, ‘true’ rhymes with ‘you’ and ‘below’ rhymes with ‘know’.
A Legend of the Northland More such rhyming words.
Ans: Earth-hearth, done-one, lay-away, another-over, flat-that, faint-saint, form- worm, food-wood, same-flame.
2) Go to the local library or talk to older persons in your locality and find legends in your own language. Tell the class these legends.
Ans: Do it yourself.
3) Why was Saint Peter tired and hungry?
Ans: He used to preach to people. For his preaching, he often made long journeys. During the course of his journey, sometimes, he did not take food and water. Besides, he had to observe fasts also. Fasts and journeys were an essential part of his life. Hence, he was tired and hungry.
4) What happened to the cake every time when the old lady tried to bake it?
Ans: Old lady was a greedy woman. She had no desire to share her things with others. Once Saint Peter was tired and hungry. He arrived at her cottage to get something. The old lady tried, again and again, to bake a too small cake for Saint Peter. But the size of the cake always appeared to her bigger and the lady was even unable to give this cake to the saint.
5) What happened to the old lady when Saint Peter cursed her?
Ans: Saint Peter became angry at her greed because she did not give a piece of cake to Saint Peter to satiate his hunger. When he cursed the lady, she turned into a bird. She flew through the chimney. Finally, she became a woodpecker. She wore a red cap and her body was black. Besides, she was bound to live in the forest with scanty food.
6) Describe the landscape of the Northland as described in the poem.
Ans: In this land of snow and ice, the days are very short. The nights are too long. When it snows, they harness swift reindeer to the sledges. Children are packed with so many layers of clothes to protect them from the cold. In their funny and furry clothes, they look like cubs of bears.
7) Why does the poet tell a story which he does not believe to be true?
Ans: It is the story of St. Peter and a greedy little woman. The poet himself doesn’t believe in the truth of the story. But still, he is compelled to tell this story simply for one reason. The story gives a moral lesson. Greed is an evil trait in man. It is punished in the end. The greedy little woman who didn’t want to give a small piece of cake to hungry St. Peter was cursed to be a woodpecker. She had to live with little food. We should show human qualities in our behaviour
A Legend of the Northland People also ask Questions:
Poem a legend of the Northland a true story?
Ans: No, this is not a true story. It’s a myth. I think the most important part of this poem is when Santa Peter turns an old woman into a wooden stick to teach her a lesson
What is a legend why is this poem called a legend of the Northland?
Ans: It usually contains a message or character and is narrated to children. The poet himself says that he does not believe that the story is true. This poem is called ‘myth’ because it preaches giving to people.
What is a legend English class 9?
Ans: A myth is a story from ancient times about people and events. The title of the poem tells us that it is a myth. The poet himself says ‘I do not believe it to be true. Write the story of the ‘Northern Myth’ in about ten sentences.
Why is it called a legend?
Ans: Legend is a loanword from Old French that entered English usage circa 1340. The Old French noun legende derives from the Medieval Latin Legenda. In its early English-language usage, the word indicated a narrative of an event.