Starting – A few hundred feet from the ground

When the jet sprang into the sky,
it was clear why the city
had developed the way it had,
seeing it scaled six inches to the mile.
There seemed an inevitability
about what on ground had looked haphazard,
unplanned and without style
When the jet sprang into the sky.

Questions & Answers

  1. How had the city developed? (1 mark)
    The city had developed without any proper planning or order. It has no uniformity or any logic for its random shape.
  2. Which line suggests that the city is not in order? (1 mark)
  3. From what height is the poet looking at the city? How do you know? (2 marks)
    The poet is looking at the city from a low height. The jet has just taken off and it is above the city. The map measurement from this height is six inches to a mile.
  4. What is the effect of the refrain (repetition of two lines) in the stanza? (1 mark)
    By repeating the first line at the end of the stanza, the poet creates an effect. When we read the same lines at the starting and at the ending, we are reminded of the height of the jet. The most striking theme is the height at which the earth is looked at. Thus, by repeating the height of the jet, we are able to imagine the movement of the jet and the size of the earth at various levels.
  5. What inevitability does the poet figure out about the haphazardness of the city’s development? Why is it inevitable? (2 mark)
    The poet figures out the inevitability of the way the city developed. Urbanization forced men to build more and more buildings during which the plan and design of the city got lost. It is inevitable because of the forces such as over population, man’s greed, shortage of space, etc.
  6. What do we see when we look at the earth from a low height? (2 marks)
    From a low height, we can see the cities and the disorder of the development of cities and towns. It is only from this height we are able to see the disorder that human beings have caused to this beautiful earth.

10,000 feet above the earth

When the jet reached ten thousand feet,
it was clear why the country
had cities where the rivers ran
and why the valleys were populated.
The logic of geography —
that land and water attracted man —
was clearly delineated
When the jet reached ten thousand feet.


  • Ten thousand feet – When we look at the earth from ten thousand feet, we see only rivers and large territories.
  • Valleys – River valleys
  • Populated – Over populated
  • Delineated – Explained

Questions & Answers

  1. What was understood at a height of 10,000 feet?
  2. What is the logic of geography?
    The logic of geography is that human beings settle in valleys where land and water are available for their survival.

Six miles from the earth

When the jet rose six miles high,
it was clear the earth was round
and that it had more sea than land.
But it was difficult to understand
that the men on the earth found
causes to hate each other, to build
walls across cities and to kill.
From that height, it was not clear why.


  • It had more sea than land.

Questions & Answers

  1. What two things did the narrator learn from a height of six miles?
  2. What was difficult to understand from a height of six miles?
  3. Why do men on the earth build walls?
  4. What other title can you suggest for this poem?

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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