POEM 4 THE LAST BARGAIN Read:
The Last Bargain’ by Tagore is a sixteen line poem composed A bargain is an agreement in which both parties promise to do something for each other. Someone is looking for work, waiting to be hired. He strikes a bargain but thinks is worthless. He tries twice again but doesn’t like either. Finally, in the last bargain, when he is hired for nothing whatever, he is happy as never before. What is the bargain, and why is it the best?
“Come and hire me,” I cried, while in the morning
I was walking on the stone-paved road.
Sword in hand the King came in his chariot.
He held my hand and said, “I will hire you with
But his power counted for nought, and he went away in
In the heat of the midday, the houses stood with
I wandered along the crooked lane.
An old man came out with his bag of gold.
He pondered and said, “I will hire you with my money.”
He weighed his coins one by one, but I turned away.
It was evening. The garden hedge was all aflower.
The fair maid came out and said, “I will hire you with
Her smile paled and melted into tears, and she went
back alone into the dark.
The sun glistened on the sand, and the sea waves broke
A child sat playing with shells.
He raised his head and seemed to know me and said,
“I hire you with nothing.”
From thenceforward that bargain struck in child’s play
made me a free man.
Who is the speaker in the poem?
In Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘The Last Bargain’, the speaker is the man who has a quest for a job for himself. He is walking on the stone-paved road and asking out to be hired by someone.
“The king, sword in hand” suggests
c) More power than wealth.
“The king, sword in hand” suggests power.
The old man offered the speaker a lot of money. Why did he turn down the offer?
The old man offered the speaker a lot of money. However, he turned it down because he realised that money cannot give him what he actually desires. He had not till then realised that what he actually desired was happiness.
When the old man was counting the gold coins, the speaker realised that once the money was finished or the work the old man wanted to hire him for was done, he would again be out of work. More than that, he would be bound in this bargain. It did not satisfy him and therefore, he turned it down.
Find in the poem, lines that match the following. Read both one after another.
a) I have nothing to give you except goodwill and cheer.
‘I hire you with nothing.’
b) Her happiness was no more than sorrow in disguise.
‘Her smile paled and melted into tears’
c) The king’s might was not worth much.
But his power counted for nought’.
How did the speaker feel after talking to the child on the beach?
The speaker felt free after talking to the child on the beach. The child was playing with shells and the ‘hired’ the speaker for nothing. This showed that he did not want any work from the speaker. In turn, he offered to give him nothing but happiness and cheer. This bargain brought him what he could not find with the king, old man, or the fair maid.
This was because power, money, and beauty all go away, but happiness is something that stays and does not cost anything either. Happiness is the true asset of any human being. Power, money, and beauty cannot buy everlasting happiness. That is why the speaker was not bound with the child by any terms or conditions. Hence, he felt free after striking that bargain with the child.
Short Stories- Bepin Choudhury’s Lapse of Memory
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