SSLC English Unit 3 Chapter 2 - The Ballad of Father Gilligan - Elegant Module - By Ashraf VVN

Anas Nadubail

Mr. Ashraf VVN, HST, DGHSS, Tanur, Malappuram gladly shares with us Detailed Textual activities and relevant discourses, in a comprehensive way based on all the lessons " The Ballad of Father Gilligan" in the Xth English textbook. It is extremely beneficial for teachers and student folk. EduKsd Blog Team is delighted to express our overwhelming pleasure and immense gratitude for his remarkable work.

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Glossary of the Poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan

  • Doze off- to go to sleep
  • Flock- people in the Parish
  • Grieve - worry
  • Grumble – to murmur
  • Mavrone- an expression of sadness
  • Nod- to move ones head up and down to show agreement
  • Obligation- duty
  • Peep- to look something quickly and secretly
  • Sod- surface of the soil
  • Sway- to move from side to side
  • Vocation – profession
  • Weary – tired

1. Profile of WB Yeats

1. Prepare a short profile of W.B.Yeats using the hints given below

Name: W.B.Yeats
Birth: June 13, 1865, Ireland
Famous as: Irish poet
Awards: Nobel Prize for literature in 1923. The Tower, The winding stair, and Other Poems
Died: January 28, 1939


The famous poet W.B.Yeats was born on June 13, 1865, in Ireland. He was an Irish poet. He got award the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. His notable works are The Tower, The Winning stair, and other poems. He passed away on January 28,1939.

Appreciation of the poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan

The poem ‘The Ballad of Father Gilligan’ was written by is a ballad. It tells the story of a hard-working priest and about his parishioners. The poem illustrates how God intervenes in the life of an earnest priest at a time of immense need. Father Gilligan was tired out of his priestly obligations during an epidemic in his parish. One evening Father Gilligan was sitting in a chair, he happened to
know that God, the divine had sent an angel to perform the last communion of the dying man.

His parishioners were bedridden or dead or buried. He was worried about his parishioners. He complained that he had no rest, nor joy, nor peace. Realizing his fault, he sought forgiveness from God. He justifies that himself that his mind was willing but his mind was weak. He was eager to reach the house of the sick man.. Realizing his mistake the priest rode recklessly to the house of the sick man. He thought that he died without receiving the last sacrament. But his wife told him that the man died happily after the departure of the priest.

The poem is rich with beautiful images and poetic devices. The time references ‘moth-hour’, ‘sparrow chirp’ is notable. The use of images and similes show the commendable use of poetic craftsmanship of W.B.Yeats in the poem.

Textual questions from the poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan

1. Why was Father Gilligan weary night and day?
Peter Gilligan was an old priest. He rendered selfless service and worked hard day and night for the poor and needy. His parish was in the grip of an epidemic and half of the people were affected by the disease and they were dying one after another.
2. What is the significance of the work “flock”?
“Flock “refers to the people who were under the charge of the priest. the priest is considered to be a shepherd and the people are sheep.
3. Why were his flock either in bed or lying under green sod?
They were either affected with fatal epidemic or they had already become victims of the deadly disease.
4. Why did another man send for Father Gilligan? Why is the man referred to as ‘poor’?
He was sent for the priest to receive the last sacrament and thereby he could go to heaven.
5. Why did Father Gilligan seek forgiveness from God? What justification does he give to God for his errant words?
It was his God-given duty to look after the parishioners. So his desperate outburst was a sin and challenge to God. It was his exhausted body and not his spirit that complained of the state of his life.
6. Why is the Time called ‘moth-hour’?
The poor illiterate villagers never possessed a clock or watch. They always told time by the changes which took place from time in nature. It is the evening hour. 
7. What is meant by ‘upon the time of sparrow –chirp’?
It refers to the early morning.
8. What does the line ‘And rode with little care’ indicate?
He was anxious and concerned about the sick. He rode recklessly to their house without bothering his own safety.
9. Why is the sick man’s wife surprised to see Father Gilligan?
Her husband had received the last sacrament from the priest and died happily. But she was surprised to see the priest again.
10. Why was the priest overcome with grief at the words of the widow?
The priest was heartbroken for failing to provide his religious duty to the dying man.
11.’He knelt him at that word. Why?
The widow’s words made Father Gilligan realize that God had extended his helping hand to him. The priest was humbled and knelt.
12. How did God save Father Gilligan from damnation?
God sent one of his messengers to perform the last sacrament of the stickman.
13. ‘He Who hath made the night of stars/For souls who tire and bleed,’ What do these lines mean?
God brings ease to the laboring mankind by spreading over the earth. God had made the night for the troubled humanity.
14. What do you understand about the character of Father Gilligan from his words ‘Had pity on the least of things?
Father Gilligan had firm faith in the power of God. He expressed his gratitude when knew that God had sent one of his angels to perform the last sacrament to the dying man. Father Gilligan had been doing his duty as a priest perfectly in his parish. He was performing the last rites to the dying men day and night. It shows his deep religious belief and nobility in his duty.

Additional questions from the poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan

1. What do you mean by “under green sods”?
“Under green sods” means the people who are dead and are buried in the graves which were covered with grass.
2. What do you think might be the reason for widespread disease and death in Father Gilligan’s parish?
Some fatal epidemic diseases might be the reason for the widespread disease and death of a large number of people in Father Gilligan’s parish.
3. What impression do you form of father Gilligan?
Father Gilligan is a simple, kind, and a noble priest. He is an embodiment of selfless and dedicated service. He is a God-fearing and pious man who does his duty as a devoted priest. He helps the poor and needy who were suffering from an epidemic and stood day and night at the bedside of the dying man to perform his last rites. He does not care for his own health and safety.
4. Why did the old priest complain? What was his complaint?
When a message came from a poor man who has been dying and needed his earnest service and then the old priest began to complain because of his tiredness due to his hard work day and night and he had no time to take rest.
5. What did he realize thereafter?
He realized soon after that he had made a mistake in uttering unholy words being a priest he should not have made such complaints. He felt guilty and asked forgiveness from God. He said that was his body that spoke not his spirit.
6. Do you think Father Gilligan’s complaint was genuine?
Yes, his complaint was genuine. He became tired and overworked though he was willing to do his duty but he could stretch his strength beyond the limit. It was his physical weakness that made him to speak such unholy words.

Pick out instances of visual and auditory images from the poem The Ballad of Father Gilligan

  • Green sods 
  • Stars 
  • Moth 
  • Rocky lane, Fen 
  • Sparrow-chirp
  • Pray
  • Leaves shake in the wind
  • Opening the door

How does Yeats describe the Character of Father Gilligan in the poem?

Prepared by Ashraf VVN
DGHSS Tanur Malappuram

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