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Seth (born 20 June 1952) is
an Indian novelist and poet. He has
written several novel and poetry
books. He has also received
several awards including Padma
Shri, Pravasi Bharatiya
Samman, WH Smith Literary
Award and Crossword Book
upon a time a frog
Croaked away in Bingle Bog
Every night from dusk to dawn
He croaked awn and awn and awn
Other creatures loathed his voice,
But, alas, they had no choice,
And the crass cacophony
Blared out from the sumac tree
At whose foot the frog each night
Minstrelled on till morning night
Neither stones nor prayers nor sticks.
Insults or complaints or bricks
Stilled the frogs determination
To display his heart's elation.
But one night a nightingale
In the moonlight cold and pale
Perched upon the sumac tree
Casting forth her melody
Dumbstruck sat the gaping frog
And the whole admiring bog
Stared towards the sumac, rapt,
when she had ended, clapped,
Ducks had swum and herons waded
To her as she serenaded
And a solitary loon
Wept, beneath the summer moon.
Toads and teals and tiddlers, captured
By her voice, cheered on, enraptured:
"Bravo! " "Too divine! " "Encore! "
So the nightingale once more,
Quite unused to such applause,
Sang till dawn without a pause.
Next night when the Nightingale
Shook her head and twitched her tail,
Closed an eye and fluffed a wing
And had cleared her throat to sing
She was startled by a croak.
"Sorry - was that you who spoke? "
She enquired when the frog
Hopped towards her from the bog.
"Yes," the frog replied. "You see,
I'm the frog who owns this tree
In this bog I've long been known
For my splendid baritone
And, of course, I wield my pen
For Bog Trumpet now and then"
you… did you like my song? "
"Not too bad - but far too long.
The technique was fine of course,
But it lacked a certain force".
"Oh! " the nightingale confessed.
Greatly flattered and impressed
That a critic of such note
Had discussed her art and throat:
"I don't think the song's divine.
But - oh, well - at least it's mine
"That's not much to boast about".
Said the heartless frog. "Without
Proper training such as I
- And few others can supply.
You'll remain a mere beginner.
But with me you'll be a winner"
"Dearest frog", the nightingale
Breathed: "This is a fairy tale And you are Mozart in disguise
Come to earth before my eyes".
I charge a modest fee."
"Oh! " "But it won't hurt, you'll see"
Now the nightingale inspired,
Flushed with confidence, and fired
With both art and adoration,
Sang - and was a huge sensation.
Animals for miles around
Flocked towards the magic sound,
And the frog with great precision
Counted heads and charged
Though next morning it was raining,
He began her vocal training.
"But I can't sing in this weather"
"Come my dear - we'll sing together.
Just put on your scarf and sash,
Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
So the frog and nightingale
Journeyed up and down the scale
For six hours, till she was shivering
and her voice was hoarse and
subdued and sleep deprived,
In the night her throat revived,
And the sumac tree was bowed,
With a breathless, titled crowd:
Owl of Sandwich, Duck of Kent,
Mallard and Milady Trent,
Martin Cardinal Mephisto,
And the Coot of Monte Cristo,
Ladies with tiaras glittering
In the interval sat twittering And the frog observed them glitter
With a joy both sweet and bitter.
day the frog who'd sold her
Songs for silver tried to scold her:
"You must practice even longer
Till your voice, like mine grows stronger.
In the second song last night
You got nervous in mid-flight.
And, my dear, lay on more trills:
Audiences enjoy such frills.
You must make your public happier:
Give them something sharper snappier.
We must aim for better billings.
You still owe me sixty shillings."
Day by day the nightingale
Grew more sorrowful and pale.
Night on night her tired song
Zipped and trilled and bounced along,
Till the birds and beasts grew tired
At a voice so uninspired
And the ticket office gross
Crashed, and she grew more morose For her ears were now addicted
To applause quite unrestricted,
And to sing into the night
All alone gave no delight.
Now the frog puffed up with rage.
"Brainless bird - you're on the stage
Use your wits and follow fashion.
Puff your lungs out with your
Trembling, terrified to fail,
Blind with tears, the nightingale
Heard him out in silence, tried,
Puffed up, burst a vein, and died.
Said the frog: "I tried to teach her,
But she was a stupid creature Far too nervous, far too tense.
Far too prone to influence.
Well, poor bird - she should have
That your song must be your own.
That's why I sing with panache:
"Koo-oh-ah! ko-ash! ko-ash! "
And the foghorn of the frog
Blared unrivalled through the bog.
is very wet and
• Bog- an area of land that
Cacophony- a very loud and unpleasant noise
Elation- great pride & joy
Rapt- totally interesting
Serenaded- sang beautifully
Loon- a large water bird
Teal- a small duck
Enraptured- filled with fascination
Encore- sing some more
male singing voice, fairly
Flushed- very excited & pleased
Sash- a long piece of cloth that you
wear round the waist or over the
shoulder, usually as a badge of honor
Scale- a sequence of musical notes
that go up and down, one after the
Hoarse- rough and unclear
Quivering- shaking, trembling
Subdued- quiet, with
Tiara- a semicircular metal band
decorated with jewels and worn by
wealthy women on formal social
singing two musical notes one
after the other repeatedly and very
Billings- publicity for a concert, show
Zipped- sang quickly
Morose- miserable, bad-tempered
Panache- a very confident, elegant style
Foghorn- a very loud unpleasant noise
upon a time a frog croaked in Bingle Bog all
the night beginning from dusk to dawn. All the
creatures hated his loud and unpleasant voice but
still they did not have any other option. The voice
came out from the sumac tree where every night the
frog sang till morning. He was so determined and
also shameless that neither stones, prayers or
sticks nor the insults or complaints could divert him
night, a nightingale started casting her
melody in the moonlight to which both the frog
and the other creatures were left dumbstruck.
The whole bog remained, rapt and admired her
voice and applauded her when she ended. The
frog was obviously jealous of his rival and had
finally decided to eliminate her.
So, the next night when the
nightingale was again
preparing to sing, the frog‟s
croak disturbed her. On being
asked about himself by the
nightingale he answered that
he owned the sumac tree and
he had been known for his
splendid voice. Also he said
that he had written a number
of songs for the Bog Trumpet.
• The nightingale asked him whether he liked
her song or not. The frog said that the song
wasn‟t bad but too long and it lacked some
force. The nightingale was greatly impressed
that such a critic had discussed her song. She
said that she was happy that the song was her
own creation. To this the frog said that she
needed a proper training to obtain a strong
voice otherwise she would remain a beginner
only. He also said that he would train her but
would charge some fee.
Now, the nightingale was flushed with
confidence and was a huge sensation,
attracting animals from miles away and the
frog with a great accuracy charged all of
them admission fee. The frog began her vocal
training despite of the bad and rainy weather
where even the nightingale had first refused
to sing. But the frog forced her to sing for six
hours continuously till she was shivering
and her voice had become rough and
But, somehow her neck got clear the next day
and she was able to sing again collecting a
breathless crowd including rich ladies kings
queens etc. To all this, the frog had both sweet
and bitter feelings. Sweet because he was
earning lots of money and bitter because of
jealously as his rival was earning name and
fame. Everyday, the frog scolded her to
practice even longer finding out her little
mistakes like nervousness not laying more
trills and frills etc. He reminded her that she
still owed him sixty shillings and that„s why
the crowd should increase.
the condition of nightingale was getting
worsened. Her tired and uninspired song could
no longer attract the crowd. She could not
resist this as she had become used to applause
and thus had become miserable too. The
heartless frog scolded her even then calling
her a brainless bird. She trembled, puffed up,
burst a vein and died. The frog said that he had
tried to teach her but she was foolish, nervous
and tensed and moreover much prone to
influence. Then, once again the frog‟s fog horn
started blearing unrivalled in the bog.
moral of the poem is that being
inspired and influenced by someone
much unknown and strange is
indeed a foolish work. The
nightingale could have very well
judged that how could the frog with
such a harsh voice be music
maestro and she had to suffer for
her misjudgment. Many people in
the human society also try to take
advantage of the innocence or
ignorance of the people.
Frog Territorial and boastful – I‟m
the frog who owns the tree /Technique
was fine, But it lacked certain force
Patronizing – Without proper training
…You‟ll remain a beginner.
Possessive, greedy – “We must aim for
Arrogant and condescending – “I tried
to teach her… a stupid creature”
soft, timorous. – “sorry
was that you who spoke”
Nervous and shy- “Did you, did
you like my song”
Timid and polite – “This is a fairy
tale. And you are Mozart in
1-(1): The frog's aim was to
(a) make the nightingale a sensation
(b) make the nightingale as good a singer as him
(c) maintain his supremacy in the bog
(d) make a lot of money
Ans- (c) maintain his supremacy in the bog
Question 1-(2):The animals reacted
to the nightingale's song with
(d) suggestions for improvement
Ans- (b) admiration
1-(3): The nightingale accepted the
frog's tutelage as she
(a) was not confident of herself
(b) wanted to become as good a singer as the
(c) wanted to become a professional singer
(d) was not a resident of Bingle Bog
Ans- (c) wanted to become a professional
a) How did the creatures of Bingle bog
react to the nightingale's singing?
Ans- the creatures of bingle bog were
Impressed by the nightingale. Creatures
from distance places came to listen her.
b) Which are the different ways in which
the frog asserts his importance?
Ans- The frog asserts his importance in
the form of a musician as well as that of
a critic of art. He flaunts his reign, and
thus, power and supremacy in Bingle
Bog. He also asserts himself as a
trainer and asks the nightingale to take
training from him.
c) Why is the frog's joy both sweet and bitter?
Ans- The frog‟s joy is sweet because he gets to earn
a lot of money through the nightingale‟s singing.
Secondly, he is also happy that he succeeds in
torturing the bird and pushing her towards death.
His joy is bitter because with passage of time, the
nightingale‟s voice has deteriorated and thus, is
bringing lesser money day-by-day.
d) Why was the frog angry?
Ans- The frog was angry because the nightingale didn‟t
sing sweetly to enable him to earn more. Secondly, her
voice was becoming „uninspired‟ as her song now
zipped, trilled and bounced along.
e) How did the frog become the unrivalled king of the
Ans- The frog became the unrivalled king of Bingle Bog,
after the death of the nightingale. Now no bird or animal
would compete with the frog in singing. Secondly, all of
them over there were greatly scared of him.