“Asleep in the Valley” By Arthur Rimbaud (L.A.Q) Long Questions and Answers, Class XII, WBCHSE
Asleep in the Valley Long Questions and Answers
Asleep in the Valley LAQ
(1) Justify the title of the poem “Asleep in the Valley.”  [H.S. 2015]
In his poem “Asleep in the Valley,” Arthur Rimbaud skillfully captured the brutality of war. Here the poet refers to a soldier who has died and is lying in a peaceful valley surrounded by nature. Here we see a very young soldier lying on a green valley. His smile is like that of an infant. Mother nature takes good care of him so that his sleep doesn’t get disturbed. As the poem progresses, it is revealed that the soldier is actually dead. There are two red holes on the side of his body. He is actually in an eternal sleep. In this sense, the title of the poem is ironic. The title also suggests that death is not the end, but rather a peaceful sleep in a place of beauty and serenity. Overall, the title “Asleep in the Valley” is appropriate thematically as well as ironically.
(2) “His smiles / Is like an infant’s…” – Whose ‘smile’ is referred to here? Why is his smile compared to the smile of an infant? How does nature take care of him? [1+3+2] [H.S. 2019, 2022]
Ans. In Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Asleep in the Valley,” the smile of the young dead soldier is referred to here.
The smile of the soldier is compared to the smile of an infant because the smile was innocent, pure, gentle, and without guile like a child. The soldier was very young. He has no knowledge of the brutality of battle. He is a victim of war. And he is as innocent as an infant. His pure smile demonstrates the futility of war.
The young soldier receives much care from nature. He sleeps peacefully on the green, sun-soaked bed. Nature provides him comfort with the pillow made of fern under his head. The sunrays from mountain tops keep him warm so that he doesn’t catch cold.
(3) “The humming insects don’t disturb his rest” – Who rests and where? Why is his rest not disturbed by the insects? [1+2+3] [H.S. 2020]
Ans. In Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Asleep in the valley” a young soldier rests in a small green valley.
He rests peacefully in a small green valley with a pillow made of fern beneath his head. He lies on the heavy undergrowth with his feet among the flowers.
The rest of the soldier is not disturbed by the humming of insects because he is dead. Initially, it seems that the soldier is asleep. But the two red holes suggest that he is actually dead. He is in his eternal rest. War took away his life. So, the humming insects cannot disturb his eternal rest.
(4) “In his side, there are two red holes” – Who is the person referred to here? What do the ‘two red holes’ signify? What attitude of the poet about war is referred to here? [1+2+3] [H.S. 2017, 2022]
Ans. A young dead soldier is referred to in the poem “Asleep in the Valley.”
‘The two red holes’ signifies the two bullet wounds which is the cause of his death. He is a victim of war.
The attitude of the poet about war that is referred to here is one of horror and disgust. The image of the soldier with “two red holes” in his side depicts the brutality of war. War brinds no good to human being. It only brings death and destruction. The poem tells us about the futility of war. The death of the soldier in the green valley suggests that war destroys not only human life but also the beauty of the natural world. The is clearly against such war.
(5) “A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed,” – Who is the soldier referred to here? Narrate in your own words how the soldier lies in the valley? [2+4] [H.S. 2016]
Ans. A young soldier lying dead in a green valley is referred to in Arthur Rimbaud’s “Asleep in the Valley.”
The young soldier lies open mouthed in the green vally. There are two bullet wounds on the side of his body which is the reason of his death. His head is on a pillow made of fern. He is sleeping on the heavy undergrowth. His feet are among the flowers. He has a innocent childlike smile on his face. The sunrays keep him warm and comfortable. He sleeps peacefully in sunlight with one hand on his breast.
(6) How does the poet express the futility of war through the poem ‘Asleep in the Valley’? What message does he want to convey? [4+2] [H.S. 2018]
Ans. Arthur Rimbaud’s poem “Asleep in the Valley” expresses the futility and tragedy of war. In the poem, Rimbaud describes a young soldier who has fallen asleep in a peaceful valley, surrounded by nature’s beauty, while his body is ravaged by two bullet wounds which he received in the war. The soldier is described as having a serene expression on his face, as if he is at peace, even though his life has been cut short by the violence of war. The word ‘asleep’ is used in an ironic way which refers to eternal sleep i.e. death.
Rimbaud’s message is that war is senseless and destructive. War robs young men of their lives and potential. War brings no good to human being. The poem is also a critique of the glorification of war, which was common in Rimbaud’s time. Overall, this is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the horrors of war and the need for peace.
(7) “A soldier, very young, lies open-mouthed” – Describe the place where the soldier lie? Why does he lie open mouthed? Who takes care of him and how? [2+1+3] [H.S. 2023]
Ans. In “Asleep in the Valley” the soldier lies in a green and peaceful valley. There is a small river that flows. The sun streams down and creates a warm and comfortable atmosphere.
The soldier lies open-mouthed because he is dead. He is shot dead in awar.
Mother nature takes care of the young soldier. He sleeps peacefully on the green, sun-soaked bed. Nature provides him comfort with the pillow made of fern under his head. The sunrays from mountain tops keep him warm so that he doesn’t catch cold.
(8) The poem “Asleep in the Valley” rests on two contrasting pictures – discuss the use of two contrasting pictures in the poem. 
Ans. The poem “Asleep in the Valley” by Arthur Rimbaud employs two contrasting pictures between the beauty of nature and the horror of war. The first picture portrays a serene, peaceful valley, lush with vegetation and a flowing river. While the second picture depicts a dead soldier lying alone in the same valley. This contrast emphasizes the tragedy of war and the loss of innocent life, as well as the irony of soldiers dying in peaceful natural surroundings. The sensory imagery used in the first picture further shows the harsh reality of war, and the stark contrast between the two pictures serves to underscore the futility of war and the need for peace. The use of two contrasting pictures creates a powerful emotional impact on the reader, making the poem a poignant commentary on war and its devastating effects.
 Write a note on the images used by Arthur Rimbaud in the poem “Asleep in the Valley”. 
Ans. In “Asleep in the Valley,” Arthur Rimbaud employs vivid and striking sensory imagery to create contrasting images of peace and violence. The first image is of a picturesque valley, with greenery, flowers, birds, and a river. The speaker uses sensory details to transport the reader into this idyllic scene, evoking the beauty and tranquility of nature. However, this image is then sharply contrasted with the image of a dead soldier, lying alone and forgotten in this same valley. This image is stark and horrid, highlighting the brutality of war and the senseless loss of life. Through these contrasting images, Rimbaud conveys the tragedy of war, the contrast between beauty and violence, and the idea that even the most peaceful of surroundings can be touched by war’s devastation. The sensory imagery used in the poem effectively draws the reader in and makes the emotions of the piece all the more impactful.
Written by Koushik Kumar Kundu
Koushik Kumar Kundu was among the toppers when he completed his Masters from Vidyasagar University after completing his Bachelors degree with Honours in English Literature from The University of Burdwan. He also completed B.Ed from the University of Burdwan.
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