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The Stolen Boat

Self -Assessment

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The stolen boat min


About the poem:

  • This poem is an autobiographical and philosophical poem which is taken from William Wordsworth’s The Prelude.

  • It describes an incident of William Wordsworth when he took a boat without anyone’s permission as a boy.

  • It depicts the theme of Nature ,Man and Society.

  • It is written in free verse which follows iambic pentameter .

  • It enriches the readers with a message that Nature is always there to play its role as teacher , philosopher and guide to teach humans if they commit anything wrong.


On a summer evening, the young poet found a little boat tethered to a willow tree within a rocky cave .He stole the boat and took it on a joy ride across the lake. Everything seemed to be still, but his ride of the boat was accompanied by the echoes of the mountain. He felt guilty for having taken the boat in a stealthy manner. The poet steadily kept moving away from the shore and the reflection of the stars and moon left a trail of light on the surface of the water. The boat sailed smoothly like a swan. The boy wanted to take the boat to a craggy rock.
As he went near it, there seemed to rise behind the craggy rock a huge peak, black and menacing. As the boy grew closer to it, it seemed to grow bigger and bigger. Being scared of this huge, black shape, the poet hurried back towards the cave he had stolen the boat from and returned home with a grave heart and a heavy conscience. But many days after he had seen that striking sight, and his mind was haunted by a vague and strange feeling. The poet in the last stanza made an invocation to ‘Wisdom and Spirit of the universe’ and realized that it purified his soul and disciplined his mind through the sacred quality of pain and fear.

Long Type Questions

1.Where did the poet find the boat? How did he steal the boat? How did he enjoy the beauty of nature after stealing the boat?

Ans : On a summer evening, the young poet found a little boat tethered to a willow tree within a rocky cave where it was usually tied.
The poet immediately untied the chain of the boat and pushed it away from the shore. It was an act of stealth.
After stealing the boat the poet’s pleasure was intermixed with anxiety. When the boat moved on, there came echoing sounds from the mountains. The boat left small circles of water gleaming idly under the light of the moon till all of them were mixed up and dissolved giving way to one single track of glittering light. But then, like a person who rows with a sense of pride in his skill to reach straight to a selected spot without any deviation, he fixed up his gaze on the peak of an uneven mountain range which formed the farthest boundary on the distant horizon. Above the poet there were nothing but the great sky and the stars that beautified the poet’s journey and his lovely boat seemed to have a fairy like appearance.

2.Why did the poet become frightened to move on with his boat? What did he do after being frightened?

Ans: As the poet went near a craggy rock, there seemed to rise behind it a huge peak, black and menacing. As the boy grew closer to it, it seemed to grow bigger and bigger. The more he rowed the boat, the bigger the peak seemed to become in front of him, and very soon it appeared to proceed with a measured step like a human being towards the poet. The form of this huge shape frightened the poet and stirred his conscience.
Being afraid of the huge peak, he changed his course and moved on silently over the calm surface of the lake to be back to the shelter of the willow tree, and left the boat at the place where it was earlier tied.

3. How was the poet’s mind haunted by a strange spectacle?

Ans: After returning the stolen boat at its place the poet went back to his home in a serious and thoughtful mood through the grassy fields. But many days after he had seen a striking sight in which his mind was haunted by a vague and strange feeling. He realized that in nature there were mysterious forms of life beyond the knowledge of man.
His mind was clouded by a deep darkness and all previous knowledge was wiped out. He was without any impression of all previously known objects and pleasing sights like that of trees, sea, sky or of colours of green fields. Only huge powerful forms and shapes whose mode of life is absolutely different from that of man, haunted his mind during the day and also troubled the poet in his dreams at night.

4.What does the poet address wisdom and spirit in the poem “The Stolen Boat”?

Ans: In the poem “The Stolen Boat” the poet addresses ‘Wisdom and Spirit of the universe’. He calls it as eternal as human thought and says that it provides life and everlasting movement to all objects and forms.
It was not in vain that from his earliest days of infancy by day as well as by starlit night it took upon itself the task of shaping an intimate relationship between the human passions in his soul and high and everlasting things of nature and not the temporary and vulgar creations of man. Thus, by this mode of interlinking it refined elements of the poet’s feelings and thoughts.
The poet realizes that it purifies our soul and disciplines our mind through the sacred quality of pain and fear that finally led us to recognize the grandeur and loftiness in the human heart beats.

5.Why did the poet call the boat ‘elfin pinnace’? Why was Wordsworth’s pleasure troubled? What were troubling his dreams?

Ans: As the boat was so light and it seemed to be like a fairy , the poet called the boat ‘elfin pinnace’.

As Wordsworth did a stealthy act by taking a shepherd’s boat without permission , he felt guilt which was intermixed with fear and joy .So Wordsworth’s  pleasure of  getting the boat  was  troubled.

Wordsworth’s heavy conscience and feelings of guilt which made a spectacle of huge and mighty forms were troubling his dreams.



1. Answer each of the following questions in one or two complete sentences :
(a) What stealthy act did Wordsworth commit?
(b)What made the poet turn back in the poem?

(c)Where was the boat moored?
(d) ‘With trembling oars, I turned’ — Mention the figure of speech used in the given line.
(e) How does Wordsworth describe the lake?

(f)What role does Nature play in the poem ‘The Stolen Boat’?

(g)Where from did the poet start his journey with the stolen boat?

(h)Why did the poet turn his boat with trembling hands in the poem ‘The Stolen Boat’?

(i)Why does Wordsworth compare the boat to a swan?

(j)Whom does the poet address in the last stanza of the poem?

2. Answer any two of the following questions in about 150 – 200 words :
(a) What spectacle unnerved Wordsworth? Comment on the effect that the spectacle had on
the poet’s mind.
(b) Justify the title of the poem.
(c) Wordsworth defined poetry as emotion recollected in tranquility. Justify this statement with close reference to the poem.
(d) How did Wordsworth describe the beauty of Nature as he rowed the stolen boat?
3. Rewrite the following sentences without
changing their meanings :
(a) Through the silent water, I ______ my way. (Fill in the blank with Present Perfect Tense of ‘steal’)
(b) The Cliff rose up ______ me and the stars. (Fill in the blank with a preposition)
(c) After I had seen that spectacle, for many days, my brain worked with a dim and undetermined sense. (Split into simple sentences)
(d) It was an act of stealth and troubled pleasure(Use participle)
(e) I fixed a steady view upon the top of that same craggy ridge. (Change into a complex sentence)


♦Skiff-a small boat, ♦Shepherd-a person who takes care of sheep, ♦Willow tree-a tree grows near the water , and it has narrow leaves ♦Patterdale- a small village in the eastern part of the English Lake district, ♦rambled-walking enjoyably, ♦thither-there, ♦tether-tied by rope, ♦embark’d-started, ♦Shore-bank of the sea, ♦hoary-grey, ♦stately-majestic or impressive, ♦cadence-rhythmic pattern of sound, ♦troubled pleasure-joy was disturbed by guilty conscience, ♦either-each of the side, ♦horizon-skyline, ♦elfin-small, ♦Pinnace-a light boat, lustily-full of energy ,♦Cavern-cave, ♦suited one-skilled one, ♦uprose-rise to a higher position, ♦ridge-a range of mountains, ♦dipp’d-let something down,  ♦craggy-steep with a lot of rough rocks,♦ heaving -moving in large movements up and down ♦Cliff-stiff surface of rock, ♦strode-walked, ♦voluntary-done willingly without getting paid ,♦struck-hit, ♦stature-height, ♦stole-roam, ♦mooring place-anchoring place, ♦Bark-masted ship, ♦spectacle-sight, ♦dim-not cleared or dull, ♦undetermin’d-undetected, ♦solitude-loneliness, ♦desertion-abandonment, ♦mighty-fearsome, ♦thou-you, ♦Spirit-non-physical part of the universe, ♦eternity-unending,♦ intertwine-twist together, ♦passions-strong emotions, ♦vulgar-mean,♦ enduring-lasting, ♦sanctifying-purifying,♦ grandeur-splendour and impressive